Can you name a golf movie that's won an Academy Award? Okay, name one that's been nominated for an Oscar. Time's up.
The only one I could come up with is the 1952 comedy "Pat and Mike," starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. But it was writers Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, not Hepburn and Tracy, who got the nod. They were nominated for Best Original Screenplay. That's it, as far as I can tell. As close as a golf movie got to immortality.
Which leaves us to this: What are the best golf movies of all time?
I'm not interested in best actor or screenplay or director. Those are oxymorons in most golf movies. My criteria are a little different. What golf movies are worth watching? Here's a rundown in some categories I made up for golf movies:
Best Golf Picture (of all time): "Caddyshack"
Starring: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Ted Knight, Rodney Dangerfield, Michael O'Keefe
Golf scenes filmed at: Rolling Hills Golf Club (now Grande Oaks Golf Club) in Davie, Fla.
There's no debate here. Nothing comes close. (Please, no "Tin Cup" arguments here.) With mainstream cinema, comedies never win best picture, but when it comes to golf movies, dramas always fall miserably short. How do we know "Caddyshack" is great? It's the most quoted golf movie of all time. From Carl Spackler's "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion," to Judge Smails' "You -- you will never be a member of Bushwood!," it's all memorable.
It's also a movie we can watch over and over again. You know, sort of like "Seinfeld."
Also nominated: none.
Best Golf Drama: "The Greatest Game Ever Played"
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Stephen Dillane
Golf scenes filmed at: Kanawaki Golf Club in Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada
Baseball has some great sports dramas ("Field of Dreams," etc.). So does boxing ("Raging Bull" and "Rocky," e.g.). For some reason, though, golf has struggled in this category. Maybe it's because it's difficult to find an actor with a golf swing that looks believable, which is why I think "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius" fall short. But at least in "The Greatest Game Ever Played," it's a great story. (It says so in the title.)
Francis Ouimet breaks through to win the 1913 U.S. Open as a young caddie (talk about a Cinderella story), and the golf swings of LaBeouf really don't seem to matter so much.
Best Golf Comedy (other than "Caddyshack"): "The Caddy"
Starring: Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin
Filmed at: Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles
Way before "Caddyshack," there was "The Caddy" with the classic team of Martin and Lewis. The plot, if you will, centers around a teaching pro (played by Lewis) who winds up as a caddie for an aspiring tour pro (played by Martin), whose ego combined with Lewis' bumbling leads to mayhem on and off the course. At the end, they go into show business and run into their lookalikes, the real comedy team of Martin and Lewis.
Best Golf RomCom: "Tin Cup"
Lauded as "Caddyshack's" heir apparent before the movie was even released, "Tin Cup" never quite lived up to its hype, despite the all-star cast. Don Johnson was unconvincing as a pro, as was Kevin Costner, both of whom looked like beginners. But if you look beyond that, there's a decent love story between Roy McAvoy (Costner) and Molly Griswold (Russo), who comes to McAvoy for a golf lesson in exchange for psychological advice.
While the movie is riddled with silly scenes and lots of cameos from tour pros and announcers, it added "tin cup" to the lexicon of golf, referring to players who run out of golf balls trying to get over a hazard.
Also nominated: "Pat and Mike" (1952).
Best Golf Documentary: "The Short Game"
Starring: Various junior golfers, Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam
Filmed at: Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort, among other locations
This fascinating documentary follows various junior golfers and their parents from the United States and abroad as they prepare for the 2012 World Championships. There are eight subjects, some from as far away as China and South Africa, observed in various stages of trials and tribulations. Golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Annika Sorenstam also provide their two cents.
Also nominated: "The Back Nine" (2009).
Best Swing by an Actor: Lucas Black in "Seven Days in Utopia"
Starring: Robert Duvall, Lucas Black
Filmed at: Boot Ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas
The Valero Texas Open scenes at the end go on and on, but at least Lucas Black looks like he can play golf. That's because he can. Black is a near-scratch player with a professional-looking golf swing. As for the movie, it's certainly inspirational no matter what your religious beliefs are. But despite Duvall's presence, you're better off reading the book, "Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia" by Dr. David Cook.
Also nominated: Randy Quaid in "Dead Solid Perfect" (1988).
Best Made-for-TV Movie: "Dead Solid Perfect"
Filmed at: various courses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area
Starring: Randy Quaid, Jack Warden
This adaptation of Dan Jenkins' novel about a cocky, irresponsible golfer who needs to clean up his act is a pretty decent golf movie. But because it was an HBO movie long before streaming, it had a limited audience, and unfortunately, it isn't on Netflix or Amazon. Quaid, who was a pretty fair golfer himself, looks the part, and better yet, has comedic appeal. Dig this one up if you haven't seen it.
Also nominated: none.
Best Golf Short: "Dorf on Golf"
Filmed at: Hollywood studios
Starring: Tim Conway
Tim Conway ("The Carol Burnett Show") was and still is one of the funniest men in the world, and his parodies on golf as the Scandinavian Derk Dorf -- "A Short Course for the Serious Golfer" -- are hysterical. Short, of course, is the stature of Dorf, who has some interesting instructional tips.
Also nominated: none.
Best Non-Golf Movie with an Iconic Golf Scene: "Goldfinger"
Starring: Sean Connery, Gert Frobe
Filmed at: Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire, England
One of the most memorable golf scenes of all time comes in the James Bond spy thriller "Goldfinger," when Goldfinger, caddie Oddjob in tow, asks, "What is your game, Mr. Bond?"
"My game?" Bond replies.
"You didn't come here to play golf," Goldfinger answers.
Bond (Sean Connery) then drops a gold bar on the green, Goldfinger misses a gimme and Bond proceeds to beat Goldfinger at his own game.
Also nominated: "Falling Down" (1993).