Give Rocky Balboa four years of college, hand him a three-wood and set him down on the west Texas prairie. What you've got is Roy (Tin Cup) McAvoy, underdog hero of the first big-star golf movie not called Caddyshack or Caddyshack II. As minor leaguer Crash Davis, Kevin Costner looked pretty good at the plate in Bull Durham. But can a Hollywood star spend a couple of weeks with the pros and come up with a tour-caliber golf swing?
By and large, yes. Tin Cup technical consultant Gary McCord taught Costner, who had played only a few dozen rounds in his life, what McCord calls "a golf swing built for a place called Salome, Texas, where the wind blows 50 miles per hour—a shortened swing with plenty of club-head speed—because this is a guy who goes for it all the time, who can hit it far."
Eventually, Costner (left) was able to hit every shot in the film himself. And when real pros such as John Cook, Fred Couples, Peter Jacobsen, Corey Pavin and Craig Stadler appear in the movie's climactic U.S. Open scene, Costner looks as if he belongs. Hey, the man exudes golf pro.
As McAvoy makes his way to a final-round showdown at the Open with Don Johnson's preening David Simms, Tin Cup's college teammate and his rival for the affections of Rene Russo's Dr. Molly Griswold, we learn that this hardscrabble hustler is also, like Crash Davis, something of a philosopher. ("I tend to think of the golf swing as a poem," he tells Molly, mid-lesson. "A living sculpture.") We see that his only pair of dress shoes are Foot-Joys with the spikes removed. And that he never lays up. Just right for an unlikely hero who goes for an eagle on every par-5 but usually winds up in waterworld.
In the opinion of tour pros, Costner and Co. provide as many thrills as a major. British Open champ Tom Lehman says he got goose bumps as he watched Costner and Johnson, a real-life eight handicapper, walk up the 72nd fairway at their mythical U.S. Open. The film may not be that stirring to the average duffer, but it clearly makes the cut.