First Hit: I liked the historical and romantic aspects of this film. Tom Morris (Peter Mullan) is thought of as the father of golf and golf courses. Although he owns St. Andrews land, is the green’s keeper of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, he and the club is controlled by the Captain of the club, Alexander Boothby (Sam Neill). The Captain heads a consortium of men who run the club and the betting on golf games at the club.
Tom has accepted his station in life, green’s keeper, caddie, golf club maker, golfer, and golf course land owner. His son Tommy (Jack Lowden), however, doesn’t believe he needs to be relegated to this lower station in life, and his resentment shows in many scenes.
He and his father often played golf together representing the wealthy who bet on them, resulting in huge cash winnings to the bettors. They, in turn, gave Tom and Tommy a small cut of the winnings. Tommy thought this whole arrangement was wrong and demeaning and struck out to change the relationship between the bettors and the players. He wanted to be in control of the winnings and give the bettors their due after the tournament.
Along with wanting to change those social norms, Tommy also met Meg Drinnen (Ophelia Lovibond) a slightly older woman who was a waitress in a restaurant. He falls in love with her despite his family’s reticence to accept her. As their relationship grows and his golfing prowess becomes well known throughout Great Britain, Tommy’s mother Nancy (Therese Bradley) searches for and finds out about Meg’s past. Social convention of the time stated that Tommy should not marry Meg, but Meg’s kindness and strength win the family over.
I loved the scenes they use to attempt to show what golfing was like in the late 1800's; teeing up with sand, the clubs they used, greens that were not manicured, and playing in all types of weather (rain and snow). I liked seeing the old balls and clubs used but wondered about and wanted to know more about the slots in the club face when it was brought up by a competitor.
Mullan was wonderful as the father. His pride for his son just barely showed through which would have been perfectly appropriate for the time. Lowden was OK as the son. My issues with this role was that the film didn’t show any of the hard work that must have gone into him being the best golfer of the time. It takes more than just swagger. I did think that he did a great job as Meg’s lover and husband. Neill was strong as the Captain. His arrogance with his position was appropriate. Lovibond was divine. Her kindness, humbleness, and strength was perfect for the role. Bradley was wonderful in an antagonistic role. Her softening towards Meg was perfectly done. Pamela Marin and Kevin Cook did an OK job of creating an interesting script. I would have preferred more information about St. Andrews and the work that Tommy had to put in to become the winner of The Open tournament so many times in a row. However, in covering the love, dedication, and support of family was well conceived. Director Jason Connery did a good job of creating and showing characters from this script. However I couldn’t get over how little practice Tommy did to be so good at golf. I played golf in my younger years and know how difficult the game is to learn.
Overall: This film and story is about love, the history of golf, social classes, and family, not a bad story to tell.