Crosby and Bob Hope used to hit shots on the Paramount lot during breaks on the set. One Sunday during the filming of Road to Utopia they were playing at Lakeside, a course often frequented by the stars. They had reached the 4th tee when they were intercepted by Paul Jones, the producer of the movie, and a man carrying two suits. Seems Crosby and Hope had been ducking the wardrobe man in favor of golf. The suits had to be ready for the next day's shoot, so a fitting took place right there on the tee. As other groups came to the 4th, Crosby and Hope waved them through.
Although the two of them loved the game and eventually lent their names to tournaments, they never got around to making Road to Pebble Beach. But they came close, appearing in a 1943 short called Don't Hook Now. A musical comedy, it includes footage from the Crosby Pro-Am showing top pros such as Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson.
Fred Astaire's sense of rhythm never translated to his golf swing—he was a 90s shooter—but he loved the game. One day at Bel Air he did a few impromptu dance steps before teeing off and decided to use the routine in Carefree. The scene took two weeks to shoot at the RKO ranch, an outdoor studio in the desert, and required 300 golf balls, five men to shag them, a piano and several cases of beer to combat the 95° heat.
Eastwood, long a regular at Pebble Beach, often takes his clubs on the road when he makes a movie. Filming Paint Your Wagon proved difficult when costar Lee Marvin kept going off on toots. The only way Eastwood could stay calm was to duck out for a round of golf.
One Hollywood star who wound up hating the game was Glenn Ford, a sometime golfer who played the part of Hogan in Follow the Sun. Hogan worked Ford so hard trying to make his swing creditable that every night the actor had to soak his hands in a solution of vinegar and salt. After four months of filming, Ford swore he would never play again, a promise he kept.
Movies involving golf go back to the days of hickory shafts. Surely no one has forgotten The Golf Game and the Bonnet (1913), A Foozle at the Tee Party (1915) and The Golfers, a Mack Sennett comedy made in 1929. On film Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney and, believe it or not, Elvis Presley all took clubs in hand at one time or another. At least two golf movies have been made for TV, namely Agatha Christie's 1923 novel Murder on the Links and Dan Jenkins's saucy novel Dead Solid Perfect.
Whether or not Costner's movie is a birdie or a bogey will have to await Siskel and Ebert's verdict this summer, but if there were Oscars for movies involving golf, the following films would be winners in a variety of categories.
BEST MOVIE WITH ONLY A SINGLE GOLF SCENE: There are four nominees. In Sunset Boulevard, William Holden, in a voice-over, says, "Finally I located that agent of mine. He was hard at work at Bel Air, making with the golf sticks." The scene takes place on the 4th hole at the Bel Air Country Club.
In The Sting, Robert Shaw, as the heavy, is on a practice putting green when he tells a henchman to track down and do away with Robert Redford.
The opening scene of The Philadelphia Story shows Katharine Hepburn throwing Cary Grant's thin bag of clubs at him, retaining one club that she breaks over her knee.