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Published: Sunday, 7/21/2002

Golf films for gung-ho fans

BY VANESSA WINANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The women of the LPGA have left town, now that the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic has ended, and the world feels a little emptier for many golf buffs.

Sure, the British Open is going on, but that tournament is in Gullane, Scotland. After the up-close-and-personal experience of watching the Jamie Farr, on the course or on TV, it can be hard to bond with a location that remote. So who can blame those fans who may be having a bad case of golf withdrawal?

Not to worry. Over the years, the game of golf has starred in plenty of films, so relief is only as far away as the nearest video store (or maybe the clicker). Here's a front nine's worth of flicks guaranteed to keep even the most gung-ho golf fan happy:

Tin Cup (1996): Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin. Cameos: Peter Jacobsen, Gary McCord, Johnny Miller, Craig Stadler, and Ken Venturi. Costner plays a down-on-his-luck professional who gets to the U.S. Open with the help of Russo and Marin.

Caddyshack (1980): Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray. In this film, billed as “the snobs against the slobs,” golf hijinks reign at a posh country club. Considered by many to be the best golf comedy to hit the silver screen.

Pat and Mike (1952): Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy. Cameos: golf and overall sports legend Babe Didrickson Zaharias and Betty Hicks. In one of the few movies to spotlight women's golf, Hepburn stars as a gym teacher who hits the pro circuit as a golfer and tennis player. Tracy plays her hard-bitten manager.

The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000): Will Smith, Matt Damon, Charlize Theron, Jack Lemmon. The story of the 1931 match of Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, and Rannulph Junuh. The latter finds the game futile until his caddy teaches him the secret to mastering any challenge in life.

Happy Gilmore (1996): Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen. Cameos: Bob Barker, Vern Lundquist, Kevin Nealon, and Lee Trevino. In this silly, good-natured film, Sandler plays a hockey player who, unfortunately for his hockey career, can't skate well. He takes his slap shot to the golf course, and winds up on the pro tour.

Follow the Sun (1951): Glenn Ford, Anne Baxter, Dennis O'Keefe, June Havoc. Cameos: Sam Snead, Jimmy Demaret, Carey Middlecoff, and Grantland Rice. Bio-pic of Ben Hogan's struggle to regain his form after a near-fatal car wreck.

The Man with the Perfect Swing (1995): James Black, Suzanne Savoy, Marco Perella, James Belcher. Has-been baseball player stumbles onto the perfect golf swing and tries to market it.

The Caddy (1953): Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Donna Reed. Cameos: Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Jimmy Thompson, and Julius Boros. Lewis coaches Martin (reportedly an excellent golfer in real life) to be a champ. Not the best film Lewis and Martin ever did, but you can't beat the cameo line-up.

Babe (1975): Susan Clark, Alex Karras, Slim Pickens. Clark won an Emmy for her portrayal of Babe Didrickson Zaharias in this very good made-for-TV bio-pic. Adapted from This Life I've Led, the autobiography of Zaharias.



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