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A golf course is an excellent setting for a movie. Whether the film is a timeless comedy or a period piece, a PGA event or country club adds an extra character, verdant scenery and inherent drama. Every moviegoer sits with anticipation and the stroke count in the mind as the movie’s hero takes that final putt, just the same as the spectators watching a playoff in a major.
Read our list of the best movies ever made about golf. There are a lot of comedies, plenty of underdog stories and class conflict throughout. Buy one as a gift for a young golfer who’s never seen the classics or stream one that you’ve missed over the years.
Best Overall: Caddyshack
Caddyshack doesn’t just top most lists of Best Golf Movies, but it still found consistently atop lists of the best comedy films ever made. Although now decades old, this chaotic movie filled with visual gags still entertains and leads to plenty of laughs.
Starring Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Ted Knight, this 1980s film follows a young caddie at the fictional Bushwood Country Club as he goes from summer grunt to putting for the movie’s climatic high stakes game between Dangerfield’s brash new money Al Czervik and Ted Knight’s conservative club member. The movie, directed and written by Harold Ramis of Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day fame, is a true classic that pokes fun at every aspect of the golf course, from the groundskeepers to the clubhouse.
Best Non-Caddyshack Comedy: Happy Gilmore
The Caddyshack for a younger generation is Adam Sandler’s hilarious 1996 movie, Happy Gilmore. Sandler’s Happy Gilmore is a rage-prone hockey player with a great shot who turns to golf as a way to earn the money he needs to pay the back taxes on his grandmother’s home. His journey from a fan-favorite violent, cursing golfer with a weak short game to a real pro leads to him feuding with one of the top golfers on the tour and eventually a climatic mini-golf finish at the movie’s faux-Master’s tournament.
The movie has plenty of fun golf bits for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, from the hockey stick putter to Happy’s unique swing. Some of the best parts of this film come from small parts by actors, including Ben Stiller, Carl Weathers and Bob Barker. Many golfers, even professionals like Padraig Harrington, love this film for its goofiness and true celebration of the game of golf.
Best RomCom: Tin Cup
On its surface, 1996’s Tin Cup is a romantic comedy starring Kevin Costner as a down-on-his-luck former golf prodigy competing with a pro golfer for the love of Rene Russo, a clinical psychologist. However, this movie is beloved by golfers because of the quality of golf played and the realism of the game. Unlike Happy Gilmore’s goofy swing or the gopher ex machina in Caddyshack, Tin Cup features high level golf and a compelling storyline about a golf major.
The movie’s climax focuses on the mental and physical limitations of a golfer playing in the U.S. Open, with a great ending that isn’t in every Hollywood movie. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s a great option for anyone who loves the drama of the PGA tour but wants a little more personality.
Best Family-Friendly: The Greatest Game Ever Played
It’s not just golf historians that will love this period piece, the 2005 Walt Disney movie starring Shia LaBeouf is a serious and family-friendly golf movie that everyone will enjoy. Directed by Bill Paxton, The Greatest Game Ever Played traces the rags to riches story of Francis Ouimet, the unlikely amateur winner of the US Open in 1913.
Filmed in Canada and set at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, this film shows the class divides in the golf world in the early 1900s and what it took Ouimet to even get onto a golf course let alone win. The movie’s dramatic second half follows the 1913 U.S. Open and the playoff that ended in dramatic fashion. Although the movie has small inaccuracies, anyone who loves the history of the game will enjoy this film.
Best Drama: The Legend of Bagger Vance
The Legend of Bagger Vance was a box office bomb when it debuted in 2000 and has drawn criticism from some over its treatment of race, however many still see the film as a compelling golf drama. Starring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron and directed by Robert Redford, the movie is star-studded and based on a Steven Pressfield novel.
Bagger Vance follows the story of Damon’s Rannulph Junuh, a WWI hero and former golf star, who sank into alcoholism and seclusion in his Georgia hometown. With the help of Smith’s mysterious Bagger Vance, Junuh learns to golf again and deal with his PTSD from the war, eventually playing a dramatic two-day exhibition golf match with Bobby Jones and Walter Hagan. The movie treats golf lovingly and features beautiful scenery of golf courses.
Best Classic: The Caddy
For many golfers, comedy started with Caddyshack. But the first golf comedy that was a hit was 1953’s The Caddy. Starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in one of their many comedic collaborations, The Caddy focuses on the son of a famous golfer (Lewis) as he trains and caddies for his brother-in-law (Martin) who find quick success. This success leads Martin’s character to belittle Lewis’ caddy and eventually the two turn to show business in a meta-narrative that links back to the actors own comedy team. It’s definitely a strange golf film and doesn’t fit the traditional plot arc, but it’s a good option for a golf lover who wants a golf movie from the Hollywood’s golden age.
Best Biopic: Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius
Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius made very little money at the box office, but this biographical film starring Jim Caviezel is sure to entertain ardent golf fans. It traces the life of the famed golfer Bobby Jones from his childhood in Georgia to his help creating Augusta National Golf Club. The film in part shows how Jones was able to secure the only calendar grand slam in golf winning the four majors of the time - The Open Championship, the U.S. Open, the U.S. Amateur, and the British Amateur. Also, this 2004 movie was the first to ever be allowed to film at the “home of golf” in St. Andrews, Scotland.