Two New Golf Movies

After a July 4th week of ignoring everything that looked like work, I sat down yesterday with my new Golf Digest. I scanned the usual columns and then noticed a two page spread on a new movie that’s has been made of Golf in the Kingdom. It’s scheduled to be released this summer, as is a movie based on Golf’s Sacred Journey, although the movie is titled Seven Days in Utopia.

Both of these books emphasize golf as a spiritual, personal growth experience, albeit from very different perspectives. It’s going to be interesting to see how they pull it off.

Golf in the Kingdom is heavy on talk and light on action, with pivotal action occurring during a round of golf in the dark. Golf in the dark is hard to play, much less film. A lot of the talk is very metaphorical, and I would expect a movie that tries to capture the essence of the book to be highly unusual. The ad in Golf Digest suggests as much, describing it as “an adventure in consciousness” and something that “some non-golfers may walk out of”.

Golf’s Sacred Journey seems more filmable, with a series of daily golf lessons that translate into life lessons. The film title suggests they stick to that structure. The Christian emphasis, particularly near the end of the book, is very non-Hollywood. It will be interesting to see how they deal with that.

Welcome to Utopia, by Karen Valby

The town of Utopia, Texas, where Golf’s Sacred Journey is set, is about thirty miles from where I live. There is a nine hole golf course there. It’s a sleepy little Hill Country town that’s received an odd amount of attention of late. In addition to the golf book and movie, there has also been a non-fiction book about life there. Welcome to Utopia came out in 2010, and I felt the book was more about a writer from New York looking at small town life than about small town life. (The author has lived in Austin for a few years, but is from New York.) When the anthropologist tries to make sense of the native’s ceremony, it sometimes says as much about the anthropologist as the native.

Let’s hope that Seven Days in Utopia doesn’t say more about Hollywood than it does about golf and the book.

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