The highest-rated golf film on Rotten Tomatoes might surprise you

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The people have watched, and the people have spoken. The highest-rated golf film is...

Rankings of golfers are based on numbers. But rankings of golf movies? Not so much.

Type the key words into Google, and you come across a zillion purportedly authoritative lists of the “greatest golf movies” ever made, all of them rooted in . . .one writer’s opinion.

Enough with the subjective sleight of hand!

golf movies
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By: Josh Sens

In the spirit of hard science, we dived into the data.

Which is to say, we studied the film review website Rotten Tomatoes, which assigns numerical values to movies of all genres by aggregating the assessments of professional and amateur critics alike. Here, according to real live movie fans, is an absolutely, positively definitive ranking of the 13 best (and, err, not best) golf movies of all time — well, at least until the next ranking is published!

Note: The audience score is the percent of users who gave the film at least 3.5 stars or better (out of 5).

13. Caddyshack II (1988)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 18 percent

Movies are like tee shots. No need for a second when you do the first one right. In this case, the filmmakers smoked the opener down the middle, then took a mulligan and look what happened: the cinematic version of a shank.

T11. Blades (1989)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 38 percent

It’s hard to say which is more terrifying: a movie script about a demonically possessed lawnmower that turns a country club into its hunting grounds, or the fact that this film got made.

Joe Pesci demanded call time change to play golf while filming Home Alone
By: Tim Reilly

T11. Spring Fever (1927)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 38 percent

Quiet on the set! Believed to be the first golf feature film ever made, this comedy of class and manners is also a silent movie. It prompted mostly crickets from the Rotten Tomatoes crowd.

10. Golf in the Kingdom (2011)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 39 percent

In golf, one reviewer wrote, “it takes a long time for not much to happen. By that standard, (the movie) captures the game perfectly.” Ouch.

9. Who’s Your Caddy? (2007)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 59 percent

When a rap mogul tries to join an uppity Atlanta country club, he gets pushback from the club president — but nothing like the resistance this film received from some Rotten Tomatoes reviewers.

T7. The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 65 percent

Of this Depression-era period piece about an enigmatic figure named Bagger Vance who coaxes a has-been golfer back to greatness, some Rotten Tomatoes raters bemoaned the film’s slow start. But largely, reviewers enjoyed it. “Severely underrated,” one wrote. “This is one of those movies that make you wonder how you’ve been dealing with life and how you should be dealing with life.”

T7. Tin Cup (1996)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 65 percent

Try as we might, there are two things about Tin Cup we just don’t understand: Why didn’t Roy McAvoy just lay up on the 18th hole to secure victory in the U.S. Open? And, how on earth did this fine movie earn a lower rating than Happy Gilmore?

The stars of Tin Cup at the film’s premiere.

Getty Images

6. Tommy’s Honour (2016)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 68 percent

There’s one Tommy in the title but two in the film. As in, Old and Young Tom Morris, the father-and-son duo who cut a trailblazing path through the game.

5. Pat and Mike (1952)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 69 percent

In on-course rom-com starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, a sports manager falls hard for a talented lady golfer, just as some reviewers fell hard for the film.

4. The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 82 percent

The Greatest Game Ever Played was not the greatest golf movie ever made. But it’s up there in the algorithmic rankings, something of an upstart, not unlike its subject, the underdog U.S. Open champion, Francis Ouimet.

3. Happy Gilmore (1996)

joel dahmen happy gilmore
This Tour pro just went full ‘Happy Gilmore’ on the greens at Mayakoba
By: Dylan Dethier

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 85 percent

A slapstick comedy about a former hockey player with a slap-shot swing, this Adam Sandler picture tends to polarize opinions. But it is, without a doubt, the best golf flick ever made that features Bob Barker in an on-course brawl.

2. Caddyshack (1980)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 87 percent

Watch this comedy classic for the 100th time, and you still might not achieve total consciousness. But you will get some laughs, which (please, forgive us) is nice.

AND THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE IS…

1. Dead Solid Perfect (1988)

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 88 percent

And we have a winner! An engaging film, based on a Dan Jenkins novel of the same name, about a colorfully unconventional golf pro, trying to get his life — and game — in shape in advance of the U.S. Open.

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A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.