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STUDIO: Magnolia Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
•Commentary with Jon Fitzgerald
•Clips and tips from Coach Tim Suzor
•Clips and tips from Dr. Joe Parent (Zen Golf)
•Clips and tips from Katherine Roberts (Yoga for Golfers)
•Top 10 most valuable golf tips
•A brief history of golf
A man decides against all odds to, at age 40, pursue his life-long dream of becoming a professional golfer.
Director: Ron Vignone
Jon Fitzgerald is a California based independent filmmaker and festival director, partially responsible for the Slamdance film festival, who decides shortly after his 40th birthday to pursue his dream of becoming a professional golfer, based solely on his passion for the game growing up. The film documents his quest to surround himself with the right group of people (trainers, doctors, mentors) who can help him achieve this seemingly impossible goal, all while juggling being a father to his 6 year-old, having a career that takes up 80-100 hours a week of his life, and reconnecting with his father and stepfather.
Forgoing his dreams for more academic pursuits, Jon Fitzgerald chose a more traditional life path early on and soon after his 40th birthday realized that it was time to take the plunge, throw caution to the wind, and turn his passion into a profession. It’s hard at any age, but apparently incredibly tough as time ticks by. Even the guys like Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson needed most of their lives to get to where they’re at. It’s a tougher sport than most people give it credit for, and it isn’t as easy as just heading over to Dick’s and buying a bag of clubs. It requires patience, dedication, and endurance, as well as a mental toughness that goes beyond talent.
“If you look all the way out there, you’ll find my balls”
Knowing that the deck is stacked against him, and knowing how few people succeed at this so late in life, he tries to do everything in his power. His wife helps him tremendously, and is undoubtedly one of the main reasons he attempts any of this. Jon is determined to have the edge, and even goes as far as to have a putting green installed on his backyard patio. He seems to have a lot of money to invest in various trainers, self-help gurus, and equipment to improve his game. He’s REALLY committed, and you’re forced to ask yourself if you’d have the same fire and passion to achieve what you’ve dreamed about. You’re also forced to ask yourself if you’d have all of that disposable income!
If there’s one thing that can be immensely appreciated, it’s that the game of golf is one of science and skill and if you come away from this film with anything, it’s the knowledge that the game is way more intricate than you ever imagined. In the first half-hour or so, Jon goes through the process of learning how to fix his swing and lower his handicap. He is strapped to several different devices that map his swing from every angle possible. Through these processes he ultimately, over the course of a year, gets to a level where he feels that he can compete, and registers in the Golf Channel’s amateur tour.
I’m torn between rooting for the guy and thinking he’s a self-absorbed narcissist. And I guess since it’s his film, and it’s about him and his family…it’s hard not to appear like you’re sensationalizing your own life. But to his credit he seems to be a very likable guy. He’s got a loving and supportive wife and a 6 year-old daughter. Constantly having to travel around keeps him away from her more than he would like, and he sometimes worries that he won’t be around just like his fathers weren’t when he was younger. This of course brings us to the tangent the film goes off on, which is Jon working out his daddy issues so he can fully commit himself to the game of golf.
“I won’t be pretentious, I won’t be pretentious, I won’t be pretentious…..”
The first half of the film is very much about his journey, but along the way we’re bogged down in this reconciling with his father and stepfather. As he has had a rough relationship with both of them throughout the course of his life, golf is used as the coping mechanism to bring them together to reconnect. Jon and his real father travel together to Scotland and Ireland to visit and play on some famous golf locations, such as St. Andrews. And while they’re there, they figure hey, let’s retrace our family’s roots! To me, it doesn’t really add anything to the golf aspect, and i’m not sure it’s meant to. Jon is just trying to paint a larger picture of what is important to him in his life, and even though he is embroiled in this quest, it means a lot to him to be able to spend this time with his father.
The film loses steam and drives (golf pun alert!) further and further away from its objective, which I believe is to demonstrate to us in a narratively rational manner how he comes (or does not come) to this goal. At the end we definitely know where he has ended up, and what the fruits of his labor are. But do we care? The film serves as a basis for teaching us about golf as a metaphor for life, and how it ties one man’s life together to make him realize that family is what is truly important. It’s important to have that personal connection. But I don’t really think we get enough of the golf aspect. Jon plays golf for practically the entire movie, sure, but most of it is an effort to repair his damaged emotional state regarding his fathers dating back to his youth. It’s almost like golf therapy. It is not a bad film by any means, but it’s a tad bit on the self-indulgent side at times, and I wanted it to focus more intensely on the actual golf journey as opposed to the personal one, or at least be a more effective combination of both.
A commentary by Jon Fitzgerald and Director Ron Vigno n e, whi ch for a documentary I find to be redundant. Especially when Jon is already on camera or narrating the film 99% of the time. There are some golf tips and a small interview on the Golf Channel.