Is this the best golf movie ever made?

'The Phantom of the Open' will delight audiences.
Mark Rylance portrays Maurice Flitcroft in the new golf movie, "The Phantom of the Open".

This summer's box office is crowded with hits.

"Top Gun: Maverick" pumps audiences up with patriotic nostalgia. You'll leave the theater feeling like you just experienced 10Gs standing on the wing of an F-15.

"Jurassic World: Dominion" dominated last week's box office in its debut, once again turning the clock back to the original cast to get fans excited.

Then there's the lovable underdog, "The Phantom of The Open." Don't believe that a golf movie belongs among the best flicks of the summer? It's currently pulling in an 85% Certified Fresh rating from the Tomatometer and an impressive 94% audience score from rottentomatoes.com.

It's the strange-but-true story of Maurice Flitcroft, a crane operator from Barrow-in-Furness, England, who managed to gain entry into qualifying for The Open Championship in 1976, despite never having played before. He shot a major-championship record of 121, drawing the ire of the game's elite but becoming a folk hero of sorts to everyday golfers.

Flitcroft, impressively portrayed by Mark Rylance, is an undying optimist. His is a philosophy every golfer must embrace to take up this crazy game. Golf may knock us down - much like life does to Flitcroft - but that never extinguishes our passion and hope that, maybe, tomorrow will be our day, on or off the course.

Cheeky British humor and an uplifting soundtrack bring heartwarming soul to the production by Sony Pictures Classics. The end of the movie shares some real media footage from Flitcroft's journey, dispelling any notion that the facts were exaggerated by Hollywood. Flitcroft did have disco-dancing sons. He even tried to enter other Open qualifiers under pseudo names like "Arnold Palmtree". And yes, he was invited to Michigan by Terry Moore, a friend I've played golf with when I lived there.

To be honest, I couldn't convince my wife or kids to watch the movie with me. They didn't want to watch a movie about golf. Now that I've seen it, I'll strongly encourage them, too. It's not a movie about battling bogeys. It's more about pursuing dreams.

Flitcroft never did qualify for The Open, but he still managed to leave a lasting legacy in the game with this film. I can't quite crown "The Phantom of the Open" the best golf movie of all time, but it's a contender, which is all Flitcroft ever wanted to be.

What's your favorite golf movie of all time? Let us know in the comments below.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
1 Comments
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It does sound like this a golf movie that transcends the game. Great movie review.

I've yet to see golf movie that knocked my socks off. "Caddyshack," though crass, had it's memorable sequences, while "Happy Gilmore" had a few priceless scenes, particularly when Gilmore scuffled with Bob Barker.

On the serious side, I enjoyed "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and "Bobby Jones: Strokes of Genius." I want to find the movie version of "Dead Solid Perfect," which WAS a terrific golf novel--the best I've read. Someone should make a movie of "Golf in the Kingdom." It could be a cult classic.

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Is this the best golf movie ever made?