Peter Mullan stars as the founding father of modern golf in 19th-century Scotland in this stirring tale
Peter Mullan stars as the founding father of modern golf in 19th-century Scotland in this stirring tale.
Director Jason Connery’s account will keep golf fans engaged, though they might not be that impressed by the actors’ swings, but if you’re one of those who reckon golf is a good walk spoiled the film may be a bit of a plod.
A bushy-bearded Mullan plays Tom Morris, caddie master, greenskeeper, club and ball maker, and founder of the Open Championship at St Andrews in 1860.
Old Tom observes forelock-tugging deference towards golf’s aristocratic patrons (including a haughty Sam Neill) and expects his son to follow suit.
But rebellious Young Tom (Jack Lowden), an Open winner three times in a row while still in his teens, refuses to toe the line, both in his dealings with golf’s upper-class masters and in his relationship with scandal-tainted local waitress Meg Drinnen (Ophelia Lovibond).
The script (based on the book by Kevin Cook) plays safe, as does Connery’s handling for much of the time.
Mullan and Lowden supply a moving depth of emotion, however, and the rowdy nature of early golf matches and the bristling class conflict off the course prove eye-opening.