A golf movie. Not words that should really belong together, but let’s not get stuck on that bit of rough. What we have here is a historical romance, between a father and a son, a man and a woman and a species and a sport.
It’s set in 1860s Scotland and based on real life working class golfing heroes. There’s Old Tom Morris, maker of balls, caddy to the gentry, and designer of links. He was born and buried at St Andrews, the famed mothership of the game and much of the action is placed there. Peter Mullan and a series of prosthetic beards do a great job at bringing the old dog to life. An attempt is made to shine a light on ‘class’ issues, dragging in Sam Neill who only gets to play at half bastard, but the film shanks it. Better aim is made with young Tommy and his mission of breaking free of the grim presbyterian expectations of his elders and wanting to shack up with a fallen woman. The young gun is played by rising star Jack Lowden (Dunkirk) and he belts the role with great precision.
Sure there’s an air of tele-feature about it all, but the historical touches and golfing innovations (behold – the invention of the golf bag!) are surprisingly rewarding. In another scene we get to witness the moment they decided that spectators should stand behind a rope. It comes after a prolonged and violent brawl. That scene along with some successful tear-jerking greatly elevate proceedings, but only fans of the game will truly love it.