I was recently researching the top golf movies of all time and it occurred to me that, while there is a plethora of documentaries charting the success of greats such as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Seve Ballesteros (even John Daly), the genre still seems lacking when compared to other sports.
Even dramatisations are in short supply once you check off the biggies such as ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’.
We have seen Pele (football), Nikki Lauda and James Hunt (Formula One), Muhammad Ali (boxing) and even the World Cup-winning South Africa rugby union team (not Matt Damon’s finest moment) and horses immortalised by Hollywood, but golf — one of sport’s truest individual tests of physical and mental prowess — has yet to truly secure an iconic place on the silver screen.
For sure, ‘Ali’, ‘Rush’, 'Seabiscuit' and — I suppose — ‘Invictus’ are great sporting movies, but I think we are overdue an 18-hole thriller.
For example, Tiger Woods’ fall from grace and redemption at the 2019 Masters is perfect — it writes itself. We could have a trilogy on Tiger and his talents and indiscretions.
‘Rush’ showed timeless achievements and rivalries can also get the Hollywood treatment, with Ron Howard helming a tragic tale, and the brilliant Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth as Hunt and Daniel Bruhl as Lauda bringing a decades-old story to life. Surely the 'Golden Bear' Nicklaus deserves a similar treatment, with technology and CGI able to capture his greatest moments on the toughest greens in the world from years gone by.
But back to today. In May 2021, we witnessed a magical moment of sporting history as Phil Mickelson claimed the PGA Championship at the age of 50 for his sixth major, defeating the young upstarts with all their muscles and science through sheer determination, experience and grit.
And — dare we think it — should ‘Lefty’ repeat the feat at the US Open on June 20 and lift the trophy at Torrey Pines — we have our shoo-in for a silver screen sporting classic to top them all.
Mickelson has been runner-up at the US Open six times, but has yet to win the competition and complete his career major Grand Slam (he already has three Masters, two PGAs and an Open Championship in the bag). Even with Nicklaus and Tiger for competition, that Slam would top the lot and have the filmmakers queuing up for the rights to one of sport’s greatest tales of triumph over adversity.