Streaming movies and binge-watching a favorite TV series has become a holiday tradition in many homes.
If you live in a snowy or cold climate, you might not be able to play golf, but you can watch it in various forms on the most popular streaming platforms. Here's what's on the menu:
The consensus #1 streaming service has a vast mix of mainstream hits and hidden gems from all sorts of media niches, but it is fairly short on golf content. Speaking of "short"...
The Short Game
The world of junior golf gets more and more competitive every year. Following several young - think 7 and 8 years old - golf phenoms, this 2013 documentary took an unvarnished look at the surprisingly tense world of kids golf in the lead-up to the annual U.S. Kids World Championships in Pinehurst. The passage of several years makes this an especially worthwhile watch, especially with subjects like Alexa Pano (7 years old when profiled in the film; currently the #62 ranked female amateur in the world) who are now nearing pro golf careers.
Losers, E8 - "The 72nd Hole"
Each episode is a half-hour documentary on a famous loser from a particular sport, and how that notable loss shaped his or her career or life. One episode, naturally, features Jean Van de Velde's collapse on the final hole in regulation at the 1999 Open Championship.
Tee Shot: Ariya Jutanugarn
This is a feature-length biopic all about the golfer who rose from child-prodigy status to No. 1 in the world rankings. I was also surprised that such a film exists about a player who, at 25 years old, is currently barely into the prime of her career.
Amazon Prime Video is something of a catch-all. In addition to its heavily promoted original series and assorted instruction videos, there are several films and other pickups that run the gamut from amusing to bewildering.
Seven Days in Utopia
The 2011 film is based on the golf psychology book, Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia, by psychologist David Cook. Cook's stand-in in the film is played by Robert Duvall, a golf sage who counsels a talented but errant young pro who finds himself stuck in the town of Utopia, Texas, after crashing his car. The film has its fans, but critic Roger Ebert was not one of them, having wrote, "I would rather eat a golf ball than see this movie again" in his official review.
Eagle and the Albatross
This film's marketers pulled out all the stops to make sure you know that golf is part of the premise. Dan Lauria ("The Wonder Years" fans will remember him as main character Kevin Arnold's father, Jack) plays a curmudgeonly local golfer who mentors a displaced teen girl, played by Taiwanese-American singer Amber Liu. Reviews are mixed.
This Australian trio fancy themselves "Purveyors of the world's best golf content." Kind of a bold statement, isn't it? This series of a dozen sub-half-hour episodes includes club reviews, visits to golf courses Down Under and a lot of banter.
This gently satirical and vaguely nostalgic half-hour comedy series follows David Myers, a 1980s New Jersey teen who gets a summer job as an assistant tennis pro at the local country club. Because its main characters are more a part of the titular club's tennis culture, the series has only tenuous golf connections. Paul Reiser plays the imperious club president. The stereotypically clean-cut, arrogant golf pro is a tertiary character, but he gets some funny moments. Tri-State-area viewers may recognize some locations, including Edgewood Country Club in River Vale, N.J., and Willow Ridge Country Club in Harrison, N.Y. The first two seasons are strong and while the third took a bit of a step back, mostly because the series became less tethered to the goings-on at the club, it is worth breezing through on a binge.
Fairly thin on golf content, Hulu does have two fairly recognizable offerings.
The Legend of Bagger Vance
Matt Damon, Charlize Theron and Will Smith anchor arguably the most star-studded cast of any golf movie. Damon plays fictional down-on-himself golfer Rannulph Junuh, who finds his game during an exhibition with real-life greats Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. Theron plays the love interest and Smith plays the title character, Junuh's sagacious caddie.
An agreement with ABC enables Hulu subscribers to watch this zany mini-golf-turned-obstacle-course show executive-produced by Steph Curry and hosted by comedian Rob Riggle and sports announcer Joe Tessitore.
As the slogan goes, "It's not TV..." its two of golf's better-known and better-reviewed movies.
Kevin Costner plays a washed-up West Texas driving range pro who rouses himself for a shot at glory at a U.S. Open. Rene Russo plays his love interest, Cheech Marin his caddie and Don Johnson his nemesis. Several real-life golf figures like Gary McCord, Phil Mickelson and Peter Jacobsen have their moments on-screen, too.
Adam Sandler's foulmouthed, volatile hockey-enforcer-turned-golf-phenom is a classic comedic character, right down to his on-course fistfight with Bob Barker.
What about Caddyshack?
As of press time, golf's most quotable and iconic film is not available on any of the major streaming services. If you want to revel in Bill Murray's great hijinks as Carl Spackler or Chevy Chase's quirky Ty Webb, you can rent it through Amazon for $1.99. Not a bad price to pay especially knowing that on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.
GolfPass (and, soon, Peacock)
To toot our own horn briefly, it's probably obvious that the streaming services with the most golf content would be the ones associated with NBCUniversal and NBC Sports, Golf Channel's parent companies since 2012. At $49 a year for a video-only membership, GolfPass is a golf junkie's delight, with hundreds of hours of both short- and long-form video instruction content, plus a vast library of Golf Channel shows and documentaries, from every season of Big Break to classic episodes of Celebrity Golf from the 1960s. And in January, Peacock will be rolling out its own golf section, including GolfPass videos available to subscribers.
What are your favorite streaming golf programs and films? Let us know in the comments!