Back Rowe Reviews
Real Time Movie Reviews from the Back Row of a Theater

Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius (PG)

Directed by: Rowdy Herrington
Starring: Jim Caviezel
April 2004

“Inspiring, True Story is a Hole in One ”

Football has Remember the Titans and Rudy. Basketball has Hoosiers and Space Jam. Hockey has Miracle and The Mighty Ducks. Baseball has The Rookie, The Natural, The Sandlot, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own and too many others to mention here. Now golf has Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, the definitive film on the subject.

Bobby Jones was arguably the greatest golfer to ever play the sport—he’s the only person in history to win all four major golf tournaments (the Grand Slam) in the same year. He was sickly as a child, but fell in love with golf at an early age, watching many golf legends play at nearby St. Andrews Golf Course in Scotland. By age fourteen, Bobby was a golf prodigy, but he retired at twenty-eight due to continued failing health and his desire to start a family.

James Caviezel (
The Passion of the Christ) plays Bobby Jones, and his pitch-perfect performance reveals Jones’ many passions…both good and bad. Jones’ biggest detriments on the fairway were his explosive temper and potty mouth, both of which became manifest every time the ball went somewhere he didn’t want it to go. As a means of dealing with his debilitating condition, Jones also consumed great amounts of alcohol, which, of course, produced many additional problems. On the flip side, Jones was a decent and fair man, sometimes to a fault…at one tournament, he called a penalty on himself.

The supporting cast in the movie is exceptionally strong. Claire Forlani (
Meet Joe Black) plays Jones’ supportive wife, Aidan Quinn (Practical Magic) portrays one of Jones’ golf heroes, and Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) is Jones’ mentor (think Obi Wan with a golf club). Also appearing in a cameo role is well-known evangelist, Alistair Begg, who plays Stanley, friend of the family and a great golfer in his own right.

Stroke of Genius is a straightforward drama film that has little action, and, therefore, will seem boring to some moviegoers. The plot contains no major twists but does posit a tidbit of social commentary; Jones’ mentor makes the assertion that money is ruining amateur sports. In recent years, we’ve seen just how prophetic that statement was. Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius is entertaining and heartwarming, but it certainly won’t go down as the greatest sports movie ever made.

Rating: 3