Let's Go to the Tape
10 famous movie golf swings ranked from 'meh' (Ty Webb) to elite (Follow The Sun)
Being a golf swing nerd is a gift and a curse, but mostly a curse. Sure, you generally know enough about the golf swing to sort out your own move. But it also comes at a price: You can never turn it off. Even when you're settling down for a relaxing movie night on the sofa. When one of those characters grabs a golf club, you can't help but do a quick runthrough of their key positions.
This article would be too long for anyone to read if we analyzed every golf swing that has appeared on the big screen over the years. Maybe we'll do that one day.
So instead we're looking at the main characters for some of the most famous golf movies around. We're limiting it to one main character for each of the movies, except for Caddyshack, which gets two characters because that movie has about five main characters.
Let's get into it.
Meh: Chevy Chase, Caddyshack
Listen, Ty Webb is a cool character. The kind of anti-establishment golfer we all want to be. But his golf swing is just ok. His arms collapse in transition, and he's not leveraging the ground at all. There's no power in that turn, which is why he can't get off his trail side in transition. It's a formula for weak fades, and probably why he didn't play great in that final match.
A Little Better: Matt Damon, Legend of Bagger Vance
It's a tossup between Junuh and Webb in these two spots. I gave Junuh the edge because he was a better player than Webb, and the equipment was more difficult to use. Junah basically, just gets scoopy with his arms through the ball, in part because of his grip and sloppy posture.
Just OK: Jim Caviezel, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius
Jim Caviezel plays the lead role in this film, and unlike the man he's portraying, his move is nothing like the flowing, powerful motion of the great Bobby Jones. His swing is quite similar to Junah and Webb's, defined by collapsed arms at the top and not much lower body load, but Fake Jones recovers well in the downswing. It's not powerful, but he's probably sending the ball fairly straight.
Solid: Shia LaBeouf, The Greatest Game Ever Played
The Fake Francis Ouimet is a little flat at the top of the backswing, which lands the club in a slight across-the-line position and the clubface slightly closed (which is why you see it pointed towards the sky). On the good days he hits draws, on the bad hooks. But all that said, he can play some damn good golf from this position.
Pretty Pure: Bill Murray, Lost in Translation
Unlike the others, this isn't a golf movie, but I made an exception because it's such a beautiful and iconic shot. Murray's swing is pretty pure, too. The club tracks a little over-the-top in transition, which is why you see him hit a left-to-right fade here, but he's got good tempo and impressive speed.
Sneaky Good: Donald Duck, Donald's Golf Game
Donald's actually got a pretty good move. His bsll position is off his left heel, which is right where you want it for the driver. His upper body moves off the ball a little too much, perhaps, but his lower body stays nice and centered.
Power Fades: Adam Sandler, Happy Gilmore
I was very, very tempted to put Sandler above Kevin Costner here. He was probably a better ball striker in his universe than Tin Cup was in here. Dammit, now I'm thinking I should've. Sure, Sander's step-in move is unusual, but it means his weight transfer and sequencing is pretty elite. I just have some reservations about how this move would work with wedge shots.
Butter Cuts: Kevin Coster, Tin Cup
Tin Cup's move is deliciously silky. A slight in-and-over move, and less powerful than Gilmore's, but ultra consistent. Put this guy in the wind, or on a tight course like Harbour Town, and might as well give him the trophy, too.
Super Good: Michael O'Keefe, Caddyshack
O'Keefe's swing was of the time. Old School, by today's standards, with a big side-to-side hip slide leading to a big reverse-c finish. But Old School doesn't mean bad. He makes a huge shoulder turn on the backswing, transfers his weight through the ball, and matches it with some smooth tempo.
💯 Elite: Ben Hogan, Follow The Sun
Glenn Ford was cast for the star role in this Ben Hogan biography. Ford's task was to do the impossible: Doing justice to the sweetest swing in golf history. How did he do it? Well, plot twist! He didn't. Ben Hogan himself was the stand-in for each shot hit during the film. Technically, that means Ben Hogan was an actor in a lead role in a movie, which means his golf swing wins the day.