Golf World's story on Mark Frost (below), with references to The Greatest Game Ever Played,
his book and the Disney movie by the same name, prompted this corrective letter from Ken Janke. Janke, a Michigan Hall of Fame inductee and an author in is own right, takes time to enumerate mistakes incorporated into the movie, on which Frost was listed as screenwriter.
When the movie was released, there were several errors and it was not true to the book. I don't know if Mr. Frost was a consultant for the film, but he was credited with writing the script.
First was that Wilfrid Reid was a British Amateur champion. Reid turned professional at the age of 17
and never won the Amateur, nor did he compete in the 1913 U.S. Open as an amateur.
Johnny McDermott was shown in the film as giving a talk at that U.S. Open being critical of Vardon and Ray. McDermott's comments actually happened in Pennsylvania at the Shawnee Open earlier that year when McDermott won the tournament. He stated that he wanted the U.S. Open trophy to remain in American hands. USGA officials almost denied him entry into the 1913 Championship because of his remarks even though he was the two-time defending champion.
The film also shows McDermott collapsing in the championship and not to be a factor. In the final standings, he finished in the top ten, being joint seventh. McDermott never gave up, nor did he fall on the ground and drop his clubs. He was a competitor, trying until the end.
Another scene depicted Ouimet having to play a stymie. The movie showed a ball between his and the cup and so he took a lofted club to hit the shot over the other ball. The stymie was used only in match play, not in stroke play as the U.S. Open is and always was conducted.
To make the film more dramatic, it showed the playoff as one that was decided on the final hole with Ouimet winning with a 72 to Vardon's 73. The championship was actually in the bag for Francis as Vardon shot 77 and the victory was basically assured when they arrived at the final green.
It is a shame that a wonderful story, so accurate in book form had errors in the film. I have a feeling that the author who has done such extensive research in his books had to swallow hard to allow the inaccuracies in the movie version.
Ken Janke, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Thanks for the letter, Ken, and for the details that "Greatest Story" had wrong. Let's face it, movies take liberties, even movies that call themselves true stories. The point is, Frost's book inspired an exciting, entertaining film that a 10-year-old in our house loved, and winning him over was no mean feat. Factual inaccuracies or no, it was the best golf drama I've seen. And thanks to Mark Frost for that.