Ron Howard explains what it takes to make a good golf movie

Caddyshack remains beloved by golf fans over 40 years after its release.

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For lovers of movies like Caddyshack and Tin Cup, it may seem like it’s been ages since Hollywood produced a worthwhile film about golf.

But why?

One person who knows a thing or two about what it takes to make a crowd-pleasing movie is actor, director, producer and two-time Oscar winner Ron Howard, who also happens to be a big-time golf fan.

On this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Howard explained his take on why good golf movies are so hard to make.

Caddyshack didn’t depend on golf. You didn’t have to believe in the golf,” Howard said. “Happy Gilmore, you didn’t have to believe in the golf. Tin Cup, you did, but [director] Ron Shelton also made us believe Bull Durham. He’s an ex-professional athlete, and he’s been able to sort of make audiences actually understand, and cast people who look good enough playing to be convincing.”

Howard, whose new book, The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, chronicles his early life and career (you can buy a copy here), said that golf movies are particularly tough to make because a player’s experience of the game is so individualized and much of the drama is within their own head.

“It’s poetic,” Howard said of golf. “It’s a little more zen-like. It’s not quite as cinematic. If you can make the story be about what’s going on around the game and let the characters carry it, whether that’s comedy or drama, then I think you have a chance with that sport. But it’s not Formula 1, where you’ve got engines and a car hurtling down the track.”

For more from Howard, including what he loves so much about golf, and what he thinks the sport gives you that others can’t, check out the full interview below.

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As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.