Golf always has produced its share of Hollywood endings, witnessed by the heart-tugging finish of the Masters last Sunday. It turns out that it works the other way, too. Hollywood can produce a story about golf’s beginnings, witnessed by the movie “Tommy’s Honour,” which hit theaters this weekend.
The film is about the complex relationship between Old Tom Morris and his son Young Tom, who are, “the founding father and founding son of golf,” said Ken Whitney, chairman of The First Tee of Metropolitan New York and one of the leading forces in getting the movie made. He was a major financier and one of the producers.
“I loved the book,” Whitney said, referring to the 2007 work by Kevin Cook that inspired the film. “I learned a lot that I didn’t know but what I found out was that a lot of people knew less than I did. I lot of people knew the name Old Tom Morris but they didn’t know much about the details of his life. And very few people knew Young Tom Morris.”
Whitney, a former managing partner at the Blackstone Group, had a special feel for the project because his role at The First Tee entails getting young people involved in golf. The Morris son remains the youngest player ever to win the British Open, at 17. “He was the first golf prodigy. He was the first professional athlete ever, the first to make his living completely from a sport. He did it through money matches,” Whitney said. He added that Old Tom represents all nine of the “core values” that The First Tee espouses.
The movie was directed by Jason Connery, whose relationship with his movie-star father Sean (of James Bond fame) was buttressed by their time together on golf courses. “This was a touching story for him,” Whitney said.
There was talk of having 18 American premieres, reflecting the 18-hole format pioneered at St. Andrews, site of much of the action. But that proved cumbersome. The producers settled on three, with the first having been held this past Wednesday in Manhattan. It raised $150,000 for The First Tee.
n LI champ Specht shoots 61
Alan Specht, the 2015 Long Island Amateur champion, considers himself a range rat. He spends more time on the practice tee than anywhere else because he just likes hitting balls. He does not do bad once he gets out on the course, either. At Jupiter (Florida) Country Club last week, he shot 61.
“We brought the scorecard in to the pro and he said that’s the course record,” Specht said on the phone from Florida, where he still is vacationing. He is not so sure that he should count it as a true record because he was not playing in a tournament and because he and fellow Wheatley Hills members played from the blue tees and not from the most distant black tees. But 61 is 61: 11 under par over 6,369 yards.
“I just had the goods,” he said, noting that his recent range work unearthed some basic tweaks in his swing. He said that Peter Bowe, who was riding in the cart with him, kept making comments such as “I can’t believe what I’m watching.”
“Every shot is like one that would be the best shot of the day,” Specht said, having joked to his Facebook friends that he “cashed in a few credits with the golf gods.”
He plans to play in the Long Island Open and Amateur tournaments and now that he is 50, intends to try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open—hoping he has a few credits left to cash.