This Readers’ Choice film is based on the true story of the 1913 U.S. Open golf tournament, which was won by a 20-year-old kid.
Athlete’s Choice: Shane from Cheyenne East High School, Cheyenne Wyo.
Movie: The Greatest Game Ever Played (Disney, 2005)
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Stephen Dillane, Stephen Marcus
Golf is now a democratic game. Any man or woman can hit the links and play a quick round. Even the dress code has changed—from shirts and ties to t-shirts and jean shorts. Back in 1913, however, the game was the exclusive preserve of wealthy upper class gentlemen, who could afford private club membership.
Francis Ouimet (LaBeouf) was not part of that aristocratic society. He taught himself the game while working as a caddy at The Country Club, in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he used to sneak out and play after the course was empty. As his skills improved, Ouimet started playing as an amateur against some of the better golfers in the area, and he soon made a name for himself.
Because of his talent, Ouimet was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in the 1913 U.S. Open against the top golfers in the world, including the game’s best players, the Englishmen Harry Vardon (Dillane) and Ted Ray (Marcus). On The Country Club course, which he knew intimately, Ouimet defeated Vardon and Ray in an 18-hole playoff, stunning the golf world and becoming the first amateur to win our Open. The tournament was dubbed “the greatest game ever played,” and Ouimet went on to become one of the greatest golfers of all time.
STACK’s Take: Another wonderful true-life story about an underdog beating the top dogs. Seems like every Disney sports film throws down the same plot—the hero overcomes all obstacles to win in the end—but The Greatest Game Ever Played is a delightful watch. It dramatizes how one man changed the game of golf from an aristocracy to a meritocracy.