Golf and the Movies “Tommy’s Honour” A Review by Ellen Bunton

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Arthur Weaver, signed print of Royal and Ancient course at
St. Andrews, 1961. Artist: Arthur Weaver Pictures/Getty Images.


¬†A Review by Ellen Bunton ūüėé

(and her eager assistant, Meatball)


A Reviewer of Classic Movies Steps up to Review a brand new film.
Welcome back, Ellen!

As it turns out, in addition to her impressive store of knowledge about classic movies, Ellen Bunton is a well-informed sports fan (especially golf), and an amateur historian.

¬†I saw the previews for “Tommy’s¬†Honour” about a week ago and immediately thought of Ellen who loves golf, movies, and history.

Ellen has this to say about “Tommy’s¬†Honour” and the history of golf.¬†

I love sports and I love movies; I don’t generally like sports movies.¬† But even I can be tempted, and when I heard this “golf” film was set in Scotland in the nineteenth century, I knew it had to be about

Old Tom Morris
(Peter Mullan)

and Young Tom Morris
Jack Lowden).


Though the sport of golf dates back to the 1400s in Scotland, Old Tom Morris (1821-1908) is considered the grandfather of the era of “modern” golf–long before anyone had heard of Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus.


A Note on Tom Morris Sr. and Tom Morris Jr.
Tom, the father, was the oldest man ever to win the Open at age forty-six.
His son, Tommy Jr., was the youngest at just seventeen!

A Note on The Open:
We in the U. S. call this event the “British Open” but across the Atlantic there is only one “Open” and any others are late-comers and imitators.

A Note on History:
As an avid follower of today’s professional golf, one who makes an occasional visit to ¬†the local golf course, one of the first things that caught my eye in “Tommy’s Honour” was the clothes these men wear. I could hardly believe it! ¬†They “suit up” in suits, and even the occasional coat! ¬†The heavy three-piece tweed suit that Peter Mullan, as Old Tom, wears in the film is known as a “Tom Morris Suit” and St. Andrews Links website now features an entire line of clothing called “The Tom Morris Collection”!!

The golf clubs they call woods were actually made of wood!  In the film the golfers  walked around holding the clubs as if they were sticks or arrows.


The “condition of the course,” a term we hear today, back then was just the lay of the land–overgrown brush, ¬†grassy greens ( manicured greens would come later), and “roughs” that were–well–rough..


All that, and the fact that these courses were laid out on the high cliffs of the Scottish coastline, made for some challenging shots and the golfers’ frequent comic attempts to get their balls back into play.

The coastline of Scotland played another role in this visually beautiful film (cinematography by Gary Shaw). It created that wonderful quality of an old oil painting that is so common in films made in the UK. All the colors are slightly muted, a little dusty and, in the case of this particular setting, many scenes on the courses are seen through fog.

There is no doubt that the actual playing of the game of golf takes up a large amount of the movie. The friend who accompanied me, and who isn’t a sports fan, leaned over at one point and whispered, “There’s an awful lot of golf in this movie.”

For those of you who aren’t interested in watching an hour and a half of guys playing golf, see this movie anyway!! ¬†“Tommy’s Honour” isn’t just the story of a sport.¬†“Tommy’s Honour” is also a story about all of us, athletes or not, and the ways in which we laugh and cry and feel our way through this life.

It’s a story about conflict and reconciliation between a father and his son; a story about competition and tenderness between a boy’s mother (Therese Bradley) and his wife (Ophelia Lovibond). It is a story about sadness and loss. And it is a story about how we come through and manage to go on.

It is a wonderful story. It is a love story.

If you like golf, if you like Scotland, and some of the history that goes with it, I believe you will enjoy this film.


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2 Responses to "Golf and the Movies “Tommy’s Honour” A Review by Ellen Bunton"
  1. Ellen Lee Bunton says:

    Thanks Dean for gathering such a good collection of photos. I watched some golf on TV today and they are dressed SO different!. Just look at some of these poses and compare them in your mind with the Jason Day or Jordan Spieth “uniform”. Thanks for allowing me a chance to write about this film.

  2. Alison Daniels says:

    Love this review. I will definitely find the dvd someday so I have the option to fast forward through some of the golf sections. Great history lesson too and photos. Glad to see Ellen’s film reviews back.

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