What are the best books and movies for junior golfers and junior golf parents? It really depends.
Do you want advice? You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. Feel the flow. Feel it, it's circular. It's like a carousel ....(Gary Potter, Happy Gilmore).
Or Zen? Stop thinking, let things happen and be the ball .... (Ty Webb, Caddyshack).
Fortunately there's a lot out there whether you want to be motivated, captivated or purely entertained. And even if you're the parent that doesn't like your child to sit around 'wasting time' watching movies - Walt Disney may have had a point when he said: Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.
Movies for you and your junior golfer
These are some movies they'll likely remember all the way into adulthood - normal or not.
In the words of Jonathan Tony - author, comedian and writer - Movies have a dynamic power to change us and teach us. They present a visual lesson to a captivated audience that lingers in the very consciousness of thought and could potentially translate to action. Whether it’s by moving us to tears or giving us courage to keep going, some of the best motivational encouragements can be found on the big screen. The ratings for the movies are included in the write ups.
The Greatest Game Ever Played
The Greatest Game Ever Played - most of us would agree! Golf has always been regarded as a bit of an elitist game - more so in the past than the present - but a passion for golf put two men from vastly different worlds and different generations together on parallel paths that would collide in the greatest match their sport had ever known.
Back in 1913 it was very unlikely that a working class immigrant caddie could ever rise to the top of the profession and compete at the highest levels. Not many even imagined this was even a possibility, but it's definitely the stuff of Disney movies. It's always good to watch an underdog movie destroy stereotypes and even more so when the story is a true one.
Disney does a great job visually and with calm, deliberate story telling, recreating the true story of amateur U.S. golfer Francis Ouimet's upset victory in the 1913 U.S. Open over British champion Harry Vardon. For more about Ouimet's historic win, this is a great read from The Golf Channel. This is pure epic, expansive enjoyment for all golfers.
PG · 2005 · 2hr · Biography/History
The Short Game
In 2012 my oldest son was 8 and playing in the US Kids World Championships at Pinehurst NC for the first time. It was (and is) an extremely exciting event and amazingly organized, attracting talented junior golfers from all over the world. My husband and son were very intrigued at groups being followed around with cameras and just put it down, at that time, to overly invested parents obsessing over every swing and shot for reflecting on later. Little did we know they were shooting footage for The Short Game movie.
In addition to being entertaining and interesting, The Short Game has actual relevance to young junior golfers and their parents. Many have played with and grown up playing golf with the stars of the Short Game and even if not, the lessons, motivation and inspiration that burst from the screen are timeless. It also includes interviews with golfing legends Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Annika Sorenstam.
PG · 2013 · 1hr 39min · Documentary/Sport
Talent isn't everything (a lesson for a lot of juniors out there to keep in mind) but Tin Cup has everything. Important themes of humility, knowing yourself and overcoming challenges as well as a little romance, great acting and extremely entertaining golf.
A former golf prodigy, Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy (Played by Kevin Costner) finds himself in a backwater emotionally and physically. He is hired by his former team mate, now golf pro David Simms (played by Don Johnson) as a caddy and is fired shortly after showing him up. He goes on to play in the US Open, with dramatic results, falls for the girl (played by Rene Russo) and leaves the watcher with a renewed sense of faith and wonder in his or her own sense of self. The well known scene of Roy asking his caddie for yet another ball and making a 12 on the final hole of the U.S. Open has been a rallying cry for the go-for-broke, never-lay-up attitude that so many golfers love. Phil Mickelson has a cameo too! Note that this movie is R rated so older juniors with parent supervision only!
R · 1996 · 2hr 15min · Romance/Comedy
Happy Gilmore is a character driven classic comedy that pits good v evil against a hilarious backdrop of unorthodox golf, brawling and bravado.
Happy Gilmore is a wanna-be ice hockey star that needs to resort to an 'interesting' golfing style to hustle money to save his grandmother's home from auction. Although his performance improves, his aggression still gets him in hilarious trouble. The Happy Gilmore Swing is probably one of the most imitated in the world - for entertainment purposes only of course!
PG-13 · 1996 · 1hr 32min · Comedy/Sport
Seven Days in Utopia
Seven Days in Utopia, is based on the book, Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia by Dr. David Cook who is a sports and performance psychologist. The book is better (they usually are) but the movie is hugely entertaining and will engage a junior golfer who will get some insight into keeping cool, having faith and aiming high. Also important lessons on the source of knowledge - it can come from anywhere and anyone, you have got to remain receptive, humble and open to it.
The story follows a young golfer (played by Lucas Black), a huge public meltdown, a crash into a fence and a fortuitous meeting with an eccentric rancher (played by Robert Duvall). The movie is also an acting debut for pro golfer, KJ Choi in the role of golf pro TK Oh.
One of our all time favorites and a must watch for all kids (and adults)!
G · 2011 · 1hr 40min · Drama/Sport
Caddyshack is a rollicking old-school comedy and probably the most quoted golf movie of all time. "I don’t think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for quite a while." My boys say it every time they get caught in a heavy downpour! The film has garnered a large cult following and has been hailed by media outlets, such as Time and ESPN as one of the funniest sports movies of all time.
There's even a few hidden truths in the movie like Chevy Chase's line "There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball."
Chasing gophers, caddy scholarships and good times the story bursts from exploit to exploit in the upscale Bushwood County Club with its all star cast including Michael O'Keefe, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight and Bill Murray. Note that this is also an R rated movie, although most juniors we know have seen the movie by the time they are teenagers. If you're watching with youngsters have the fast forward button ready.
R · 1980 · 1hr 38min · Comedy/Sport
Books for you and your junior golfer
Extraordinary Golf: The Art of the Possible by Fred Shoemaker, with Pete Shoemaker
New York Times Best Selling Author, Karen Marie Moning, shares the sentiments of most book lovers: I love books way more than movies. Movies tell you what to think. A good book lets you choose a few thoughts for yourselves.
And, how about not just a few thoughts, but a whole new way of thinking - of rather "being" on the golf course. Extraordinary Golf: the Art of the Possible is an excellent book that aims squarely at pulling the player outside of himself, being creative and open to opportunities and possibilities on the golf course.
This book is a joy to read. It has a rhythm and lightness to it and leads the player, towards his/her fearless, courageous self and a whole new world of performance, learning and enjoyment on the golf course and life in general.
This book will give you insight into approaching your golf game "from the future" - this is the secret of setting yourself up to becoming extraordinary.
Junior golf parents, this book will help you teach your young junior player that it's more about "what person I can become through entering this competition" as opposed to "it's important that I win". Instincts should be trusted, conversations started and at some point we try to understand that, through 'becoming aware,' is the gateway of Golf as Art.
Daddy Caddy on the Bag: Coach Your Child to Peak Golf Performance by Rick Heard
If you are the parent of a future or current junior golfer please get a copy of Daddy Caddy on the Bag (Second Edition): Coach Your Child to Peak Golf Performance and read it again and again. Written by a PGA teaching professional who is also a daddy caddie that has been there, done that, it is an invaluable tool to help you and your child have the ultimate positive experience in junior golf with insights into how to encourage your child's love and participation in the game, manage the mental and practical aspects, and lower scores.
It is set out well and written in a clear and concise manner that is easy to follow. It includes a brief look at the rules most likely to affect a junior golfer, player development and game assessment, and insights into child psychology that will make your life as a parent caddy a lot less brutal and allow your child the opportunity to forge a positive path. It also includes practical advice and some good tools and golf practice games.
One Magical Sunday:(But winning is not everything) Audiobook by Phil Mickelson and Donald T Phillips
Junior golfers today have grown up watching Phil Mickelson, 5 time Major winner, a force to be reckoned with on the PGA tour. They are too young to have known Phil as the "best player never to win a major" but One Magical Sunday gives thrilling and insightful insights into his years as a junior, family life and in particular a hole by hole, beat by beat synopsis of the final Sunday when he sank an 18 foot putt on the 18th to win the 2004 Masters.
I would buy One Magical Sunday: (But Winning Isn't Everything) as an audio book and listen to it in the car, maybe en route to golf tournaments (or even just a family vacation). It is read by Phil. It is poignant, funny, laugh out loud in parts. It offers valuable insights into his own junior golf path, which we enjoyed hearing straight from the horse's mouth so to speak. We listened to this book as a family and we didn't want it to end, even though we know how it did.
Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia by Dr. David Cook
Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia explores fly-fishing, flying and the wisdom of rhythm, balance and patience that permeates golf and life and the cross winds that disrupt it.
Tom Lehman wrote the forward to the book and writes: Dr. Cook has written a book for all the people who just can't get out of their own way and are consistently their own worst enemy on the golf course. His mental checklist is: See it. Feel it. Trust it. His foundation is: rhythm, balance and patience.
It's had some rave reviews including: "Read it. Devour it. Keep it as a reference book. You’ll be glad you did. Golf’s Sacred Journey is a remarkable and encouraging story with an entirely different approach on how to succeed in your golf game.”―Zig Ziglar, leading motivational expert and bestselling author. “This book is full of wisdom that will enhance your game and I believe it just may change your life.”―David Robinson, NBA MVP, 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist, Two Time World Champion.
The question is asked in the book, "Don't we all need a Johnny in our lives?"
My answer is, "Absolutely." This book may be as close as you're going to get to him, read it anyway. One of our all time favorites and a must read for juniors and adults.
Who's Your Caddy? Looping for the Great, Near Great, and Reprobates of Golf by Rick Reilly
Who's Your Caddy?: Looping for the Great, Near Great, and Reprobates of Golf is marvelous entertainment, a book you can read over and over again with enjoyment. Rick Reilly (member of the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame) tells captivating stories about his experiences looping (caddying 18 holes) with characters including David Duval, Jack Nicklaus, Deepak Chopra, John Daly and Donald Trump. Talk about the sublime to the ridiculous!
First time looper, big time names, and where did he make his professional caddying debut? The Masters of course! With 1973 champion, Tommy Aaron. The result was a realization of the horrible flaw in his book idea: just because somebody "lets" you do something, doesn't mean you necessarily should go out and "do" it. But thank goodness he did.
This book has snippets of -
- fascinating insider observations: ...... Pros want to do things exactly the same every time, so that their swings, their thoughts, their weeks are repeatable. Repeatable is everything out there. Repeatable is more important than a trophy wife, a good coach, and a million-dollar hat deal combined.
- classic rhetoric: ..... show up, keep up, shut up ...... and, keep your mouth off my ball.
- caddy wisdom: mom and dad on the bag could certainly benefit from learning some of this stuff ..... Never speak in the negative tense (don't mention something you shouldn't do instead of something you should). So, for an uphill 12 foot putt you don't say, "It's dead straight. Just don't be short." There are plenty of alternatives like "Plenty uphill here" and "Kinda against the grain here."
- and great information: My take-away from the book, purely from a practical golf playing and training junior golfers perspective is the way the 'greats' consider and think about course management as summed up in this observation of a practice round for the 1992 US Open with David Duval and Jack Nicklaus. They were standing on the tee box at the famous 18th when Nicklaus said, "How do you plan on playing this one?" David said he's probably just bomb a driver off the tee and try to reach the green in two. Nicklaus shook his head. "Too risky," he said. "There's a sprinkler out there that reads 102 yards. You need to play this hole so that your third shot comes from right near that sprinkler head. Whatever two shots get you there, whether it's a 3-wood and a 6-iron or two 4-irons, whatever, get there." Duval says it made him start thinking about the idea of playing a hole backward to get the most out of it.
Which kind of goes against the advice Nick Price regards as responsible for his - monster year in 1994 when he won the British Open, the PGA, seven tournaments around the world, and Player of the Year - "I'm playing each shot absolutely by itself, without anything attached to it, without thinking, 'OK, this is big. I've got to have this '...."
But who's keeping score - especially when you're playing a round with Deepak Chopra.
Different strokes for different folks. But this book is fun for everybody. The book is probably in the "PG13 rating" range thanks to a few of the more colorful characters such as John Daly.
Journey to Excellence: The Young Golfer's Complete Guide to Achievement and Personal Growth by Henry Brunton with Michael Grange
Becoming an elite golfer is a worthy project, and like all things worthwhile, not something that 'just' happens because someone is 'talented' or 'lucky'. If you are going to make the commitment to be your best - whatever that ends up being - you owe it to yourself to apply these principles so you can be sure you're replacing luck with good planning. Plan to win.
And in Journey to Excellence, Henry Brunton sets out how to plan for everything that could possibly be relevant to a junior golfer - from competition season, post-competition season, eating during a round, flexibility and strength training, practice and more.
Journey to Excellence has fascinating stories and insights and is written primarily for the elite golfer with college and/or professional aspirations. In fact the last chapter is devoted entirely to facts about college golf.
If your child aspires to be a high-performance golfer, this book is a must read and is the number one recommendation of many junior coaches. It is thorough, in-depth and written clearly and methodically with the goal of "completing a journey that turns potential into accomplishment and hope into true confidence."
This article is finished for the moment, though not yet done. Life is a journey after all and there are places to be seen, books to be read, courses to be played along the way. This is a start and a good one. Books and movies will be added. Sit back, relax and enjoy. It's not wasted time - and inspiration often comes unexpectedly when you least expect it. Please let us know your favorites!