But the winner is M*A*S*H, which has Elliott Gould hitting three balls from a helicopter pad in Korea. And it is Gould swinging that club, no doubt about it—stiff-legged at address, falling backward on contact.
BEST GOLF SCENE IN WHICH THE LOSER LATER GETS KILLED: Who can forget the four-minute sequence in Goldfinger in which Sean Connery as British secret service agent 007 outcheats Gert Frobe as the eponymous villain? Publicity releases say that Connery's passion for the game stemmed from this movie, but upon close scrutiny of his one swing in the film, it looks suspiciously like 006 is standing in for him.
BEST GOLF LESSON IN A MOVIE: With apologies to Bobby Jones, who once made a series of superb instructional shorts, the winner is Animal House. Tim Matheson and Peter Riegert take aim with a fairway wood at a mean-spirited ROTC officer on horseback. Riegert misses, Matheson does not, and the officer is dragged off screaming by the runaway horse. Matheson deadpans, "Your left arm is straight, but you're not keeping your head down. Always try to hit through the ball."
FUNNIEST MOVIE INVOLVING GOLF: You say Caddyshack? Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray get off some, great one-liners, but that's not it. Nor is it The Caddy with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The Golf Specialist with W.C Fields gives you twice the laughs in half the time.
WORST MOVIE INVOLVING GOLF: Just when it seemed Caddyshack II had it wrapped up, along came Happy Gilmore, which was released a few weeks back. It's inane and embarrassing, and it was tied for second at the box office in its first weekend in release.
MOST HEARTWARMING GOLF MOVIE: Follow the Sun. How could it not be? The story of Ben Hogan's heroic comeback after his near-fatal auto accident gets serious treatment from Hollywood. Sam Snead and Jimmy Demaret are in the film, but Ford, playing Hogan, required a double despite all that hard practice that hurt his hands.
BEST GOLF IN ANY MOVIE, EVER: In Pat and Mike, Katharine Hepburn—and it is the Great Kate herself—hits 24 shots, including one from casual water, one from the woods and two from bunkers. In one scene, demonstrating to an old busybody how good she really is, Hepburn hits nine teed-up balls on a practice range in about 10 seconds.
Hepburn began playing when she was five at a private nine-hole course near her parents' summer home in Fenwick, Conn. She took lessons as a teenager, and in 1938, hours before the great New England hurricane ravaged the coast, she made a hole in one at Fenwick's 9th. Hepburn's stance, as seen in the movie, is a shade too crouched. She starts her swing with a little forward press, brings the club around her right shoulder and follows through low, looking somewhat like Arnold Palmer. But the overall motion is rhythmic and has none of the glitches seen in high-handicap golfers.
In the movie Hepburn enters something called the Women's National Match Play tournament and polishes off a few leading pros of the day, reaching the final against Babe Didrikson Zaharias. She is ahead until her boyfriend—no, not Spencer Tracy—shows up and rattles her. The course is undeniably Riviera, though it is never identified as such, and for some reason the 16th hole, a par-3, becomes the 17th. The tournament sequence lasts 10 minutes on screen and is realistic enough in places to resemble a newsreel.
Over the years Hepburn has won four Oscars, but none were for her role as Pat Pemberton in Pat and Mike. So unofficially and retroactively, I now award her a fifth, in the hope that it may be the start of a beautiful friendship.