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Opinion & Analysis

6 things to know about new golf movie “The Squeeze”

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Are golf movies better when they’re made by golfers? That’s the question raised by new golf movie “The Squeeze,” which tells the story of a golf prodigy (Jeremy Sumpter), who becomes the pawn of two high-stakes gamblers.

The movie was written, directed and produced by Terry Jastrow, who produced 62 major championships (the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship) during his time at ABC Sports.

The Squeeze will be released in select theaters on April 17, and is available for digital download and video on demand the same day. Groupon users can download the movie a day earlier (more on that later).

Here are six things to know about the movie.

The golf shots were real

SQ_1081

The Squeeze star Jeremy Sumpter (Augie) banks a shot off a tree. On the second take, he found the green.

Jastrow’s first order of business was to find a leading man who could actually hit the high-level golf shots his role required. Jastrow received more than 1,000 applications for the role, but once he saw Sumpter’s golf game, he knew the role was his.

[quote_box_center]”At the tryout at Belair Country Club, Jeremy hit his first drive over 300 yards,” Jastrow said. [/quote_box_center]

Jastrow sent videos of Sumpter hitting a driver, a 5 iron, a wedge and a bunker shot to friend Tom Watson, one of the movie’s backers, for review. The eight-time major champion approved.

At the movie’s world premier in Chicago, Jastrow confirmed that every shot in the film, sans one, was authentic. The shot in question? It would have been real, had the camera been pointed at the ball, not his face, Sumpter said.

Jastrow changed golf broadcasts forever

SQ_0322

Jastrow (right) on set with with Christopher McDonald (Riverboat).

Jastrow’s charmed career in golf, like a lot of people his age, started as a caddie. Then it broke severely from the norm. As the junior champion at his club, he had the chance to caddie for Arnold Palmer when Arnie came to town for an event. Jastrow later got a job at Austin Country Club, where he played rounds with Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, and improved his game under the tutelage of legendary instructor Harvey Penick.

[quote_box_center]”In Harvey’s second book, the Green Book, there’s a whole chapter about me,” Jastrow said. [/quote_box_center]

Jastrow played collegiate golf at the University of Houston, but didn’t want to be a professional golfer. He got a job at ABC Sports at age 21, and was made a producer at 22. Why so young? At the time “no one there played golf,” he said.

His familiarity with high-level golf, and desire to have viewers feel like they were a part of the action, led to two innovations that changed golf broadcasts forever. He led the first broadcast to put a camera behind a golfer in the fairway, and is the originator of the coverage style that follows a group for all 18 holes in a tournament. Jastrow has won 7 Emmy Awards, and has also produced or directed The Super Bowl, The Indy 500, The Kentucky Derby and eight Olympics.

Those who see The Squeeze will enjoy the major championship-like feel of the golf action in the movie.

The Squeeze was based on (many) true stories

SQ_0690

Augie (Jeremy Sumpter) needs a ride during a game of cross-country golf.

The plot of the movie was based on the real-life experiences of Keith Flatt, a Texas-born golfer who was discovered by a gambler after winning a local tournament by 15 shots. The Squeeze’s action covers the last few weeks of Flatt’s time playing high-stakes golf, which saw his life put in jeopardy by gamblers in Las Vegas.

There are several other true stories mixed in the movie, including the opening scene that shows Sumpter and co-star Jillian Murphy playing a game of cross-country golf. As a child, Jastrow played the same game with his brother before church on Sundays. Their “course” covered the span 1.5 miles in Midland, Texas, and ended when one of them holed out at their municipal golf course.

A later scene shows Murray using a clever trick to light the line of Sumpter’s putt, which was inspired by a father-son tournament Jastrow played as a teenager. As daylight waned, spectators brought their cars on the course to illuminate the action. It helped the golfers get to the green, but more light was needed for the winning putt to go in.

[quote_box_center]”We didn’t know much about USGA rules in West Texas, so we didn’t know we couldn’t put a cigarette on the ground to help us line up a putt,” Jastrow said. [/quote_box_center]

If Sumpter wasn’t an actor, he might be playing golf for a living

SQ_0040 (1)

Sumpter used his own clubs for the film: TaylorMade woods, Nike blade irons and a Scotty Cameron putter.

Sumpter missed a putt during a round of golf with Jastrow, and proceeded to scoop the ball up with the back of his putter, toss it above his head and whack it 120 yards. Jastrow put it in the movie, and it’s a safe bet that you’ll see someone trying to emulate the trick shot on the range this summer.

Sumpter, 26, began honing his golf game in Australia during the filming of live-action movie Peter Pan (2003), in which he starred. He’s played a lot of golf since that time, and currently boasts a +1.2 handicap at Moorpark Country Club in Southern California.

When Sumpter isn’t working, he likes to play golf during the daylight hours and shoot pool at night. He told me that he’d really like to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am next year. Then the conversation shifted to what it would take for him to compete on the mini tours. He was serious.

You don’t need to like golf to like the movie

SQ_1328

Jessie (Katherine LaNasa) with Riverboat (Christopher McDonald).

It’s OK to watch The Squeeze with your significant other and/or non-golfing friends. Jessie (Katherine LaNasa) brings laughs as the girlfriend of Riverboat (Christopher McDonald), a character based on legendary gambler Titanic Thompson — and a far cry from his role as Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore.

Natalie (Jillian Murray) is a likable character who plays the girlfriend of Augie (Jeremy Sumpter). Some will say she’s reason enough to see the movie. Michael Nouri, who plays Jimmy Diamonds, told me he’s not a gambler, but you wouldn’t know it from watching the film.

The Squeeze offers something extra through Groupon

dvd_set_comp_cropped

Groupon will offer The Squeeze at its first digital download on April 16, a day before it hits theaters. It’s available in two separate packages:

  1. With Tom Watson’s “Lessons of a Lifetime” DVD set.
  2. With $10 off a tee time booked at TeeOff.com.

[quote_box_center]”We’re very excited about partnering with Groupon,” Jastrow said. “The movie business is forever looking for robust new distribution outlets … If this Groupon campaign with The Squeeze works, it could create another huge marketplace for movies.”[/quote_box_center]

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Gary McCormick

    Apr 14, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Two or three minutes of authentic golf shots (Sumpter does a trick shot with a putter that is pretty cool) do not make up for this movie’s shortcomings in story, characters, dialogue, and direction. Pop in your DVD copy of Caddyshack, Tin Cup, or The Greatest Game Ever Played if you need a golf-movie fix.

  2. Abomb

    Apr 13, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Nice trick with the putter but this does not look good.

  3. devilsadvocate

    Apr 11, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    Research titanic Thompson if you have never heard of him… Wow

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Gear Dive: Mizuno’s Chris Voshall speaks on Brooks Koepka’s U.S. Open-winning irons

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Mizuno’s Chief Engineer Chris Voshall speaks on how Brooks Koepka was the one that almost got away, and why Mizuno irons are still secretly the most popular on Tour. Also, a couple of Tiger/Rory nuggets that may surprise a few people. It’s an hour geek-out with one of the true gems in the club biz. Enjoy!

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

Listen to the full podcast below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Hear It, Feel It, Believe It: A Better Bunker Method

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The following is an excerpt from Mike Dowd‘s upcoming novel, “Coming Home.” 

After picking the last of the balls on the driving range, Tyler cornered Mack as he hit a few shots from the old practice bunker to wind down at the end of the day. Mack was hitting one after another, alternating between the three flags on the practice green and tossing them up about as softly as if he was actually lobbing them each up there underhanded.

Tyler just stood there, mesmerized at first by the mindless ease with which Mack executed the shot. Bunker shots, Tyler silently lamented, were likely the biggest hole in his game, and so after Mack had holed his third ball in a couple of dozen, Tyler finally decided he had to ask him a question.

“What are you thinking about on that shot, Mack?” Tyler interrupted him suddenly.

Mack hit one more that just lipped out of the closest hole, paused a few seconds, and then looked up at his protégé in what Tyler could only interpret as a look of confusion.

“What am I thinking about?” he finally replied. “I don’t know, Tyler… I’d hate to think how I’d be hittin’ ‘em if I actually started thinking.”

Tyler gave Mack a slightly exasperated look and put his hands on his hips as he shook his head. “You know what I mean. Your technique. I guess I should have said what exactly are you doing there from a mechanics standpoint? How do you get it to just land so softly and roll out without checking?”

Mack seemed to be genuinely considering Tyler’s more elaborately articulated question, and after a moment began, more slowly this time, as if he was simplifying his response for the benefit of a slightly thick-headed young student who wasn’t getting his point.

“You can’t think about technique, Tyler… at least not while you’re playing,” Mack replied. “There’s no quicker path back to your father’s garage than to start thinking while you’re swinging, especially thinking about technique. That’s my job.”

“Mack,” Tyler insisted, “How am I supposed to learn to hit that shot without understanding the technique? I’ve got to do something different than what I’m doing now. I’m putting too much spin on my shots, and I can’t always tell when it’s going to check and when it’s going to release a little. How do I fix that?”

“Well, not by thinking, certainly,” Mack fired right back as if it was the most ridiculous line of inquiry he’d ever heard. “A good bunker shot can be heard, Tyler, and felt, but you can’t do either of those if you’re focused on your technique. You feel it inside of you before you even think about actually hitting it. Watch, and listen.”

With that Mack swung down at the sand and made a thump sound as his club went through the soft upper layer of sand and bounced on the firmer sand below.

“You hear that?” Mack asked. “That’s what a good bunker shot sounds like. If you can hear it, then you can feel it. If you can feel it, then you can make it, but you can’t make that sound until you hear it first. Your body takes care o’ the rest. You don’t have to actually tell it what to do.”

Tyler still looked puzzled, but, knowing Mack as he did, this was the kind of explanation he knew he should have expected. Coach Pohl would have gone into an eight-part dissertation on grip, stance, club path, release points, weight transfer, and so forth, and Tyler suddenly realized how much he’d come to adopt his college coach’s way of thinking in the past four years. Mack though? He just said you’ve got to hear it.

“Get in here,” Mack said suddenly, gesturing to the bunker and offering the wedge to Tyler. “Now close your eyes.”

“What?!” Tyler almost protested.

“Just do it, will ya’?” Mack insisted.

“Okay, okay,” Tyler replied, humoring his coach.

“Can you hear it?” Mack asked.

“Hear what?” Tyler answered. “All I hear is you.”

“Hear that sound, that thump.” It was Mack’s turn to be exasperated now. “It was only moments ago when I made it for you. Can’t you still hear it?”

“Oh, remember it you mean,” Tyler said. “Okay, I know what you mean now. I remember it.”

“No, you obviously don’t know what I mean,” Mack replied. “I wanted to know if you can hear it, in your mind, hear the actual sound. Not remember that I’d made it. There’s a big difference.”

Tyler suddenly did feel kind of dumb. He wasn’t picking up what Mack was getting at, at least not exactly how he wanted him to get it, and so he sat there with his eyes closed and gripped the club like he was going to hit a shot, waggled it a bit as if he was getting ready, and then opened his eyes again.

“Okay,” he said suddenly. “I think I can hear it now.”

“Don’t open your eyes,” Mack almost hissed. “Now make it, make that sound. Make that thump.”

Tyler swung down sharply and buried the head of the wedge into the sand where it almost stopped before exiting.

“That’s not a thump,” Mack said shaking his head. “That’s a thud. You can’t even get the ball out with that pitiful effort. Give me that!”

He took the wedge back from Tyler and said, “Now watch and listen.”

Mack made a handful of swings at the sand, each one resulting in a soft thump as the club bottomed out and then deposited a handful of sand out of the bunker. Tyler watched each time as the head of the club came up sharply, went down again, hit the sand, and came back up abruptly in a slightly abbreviated elliptical arc. Each time Tyler listened to the sound, embedding it as he studied how the club entered and exited the sand. Mack stopped suddenly and handed the club back to Tyler.

“Now you make that sound,” he said, “and as you do remember how it feels in your hands, your forearms, your chest, and most importantly in your head.”

“What?” Tyler asked, looking back up at Mack, confused at his last comment.

“Just do it,” Mack said. “Hear it, feel it, then do it, but don’t do it before you can hear it and feel it. Now close your eyes.”

Tyler did as he was told, closing his eyes and then settling his feet in as he tried to picture in his mind what Mack had been doing. At first, he just stood there waggling the club until he could see the image in his mind of Mack hitting the sand repeatedly, and then he could hear the soft thump as the club hit the sand. He started to swing but was interrupted by Mack’s voice.

“Can you feel it?” Mack said. “Don’t go until you can feel it.”

“Well, at first I could see the image in my mind of you hitting that shot over and over again,” Tyler said, opening his eyes and looking at Mack, “and then I could hear it. It sort of followed right in behind it.”

“Ah, the image is a good starting point, but you can’t just see it and hear it, you need to feel it,” Mack replied, pointing to his head. “Feel it in here, and then you can feel it here,” he continued, putting his hands together like he was gripping a club. “Now close your eyes again.”

“Okay,” Tyler said, not sure he was getting it, but finally bought in. He settled in again and began waggling the club until he could see Mack swinging and hear the subtle thump of the sand. He let it just loop in his mind, over and over again, until suddenly he could feel it like he was the one doing it, and then he swung.

Thump came the sound as the flange of his wedge hit the sand. It was his swing, but it was different, maybe not to the naked eye, but in the speed, the level of tension, and the release. He opened his eyes again, almost tentatively, and looked at Mack with a combination of curiosity and amazement.

“I felt it that time,” Tyler said in a voice that seemed to resonate within from somewhere in the past. It almost sounded like Jackie’s in its exuberance.

“Yes… good,” Mack replied patiently. “Now close your eyes and do it again, but make sure you can feel it before you pull the trigger.”

Tyler settled in again, waited until, like the last time, he could see it, hear it, and then finally feel it… Thump… Something was slightly different this time, though, and Tyler opened his eyes to notice Mack kneeling down next to him. He had quietly deposited a ball into the place where Tyler had swung. Tyler looked up in the direction of the green and the target flag he had been aiming toward just in time to see a ball slow to a gentle stop about four inches from the flag.

“How’d you do that?” Tyler said, almost in wonder now.

“I didn’t,” Mack replied. “You did. You just had to stop thinking. See it, hear it, and feel it. Once you feel it, you can believe it. Anything more is more than we need. Any questions?”

As Mack turned to walk up out of the bunker, Tyler just stood there shaking his head a moment, looking at the spot in the sand, and then back up at the green as if to confirm the ball he’d seen roll to stop was still there. “I guess I’ve still got a lot to learn.”

“Well… yes and no,” Mack said cryptically as he turned back to look at him. “You pretty much know how to hit all the shots, Tyler. You’ve hit every one of them at one time or another. You’ve just got to learn how to empty your head of all those instructions so you can focus on finding the shot you need when you need it. It’s in there somewhere.”

“It’s hard to explain,” Tyler said, “but a lot of times I walk up and think I somehow just instinctively know what shot to hit without even thinking about it. I just kind of see it and feel it. It’s when I start to analyze things a bit more closely, factoring in all the things I know are important to consider like the wind, keeping away from the short side, where I want to putt from, and the best trajectory or shot shape for the situation, that I often start to second guess that feeling.”

“Ever heard the saying paralysis from analysis?” Mack asked. “It pretty much describes those moments.”

“Yeah, I get it,” Tyler replied, “but all that information is important. You have to consider everything and not just make a rash decision.”

“Sure, information is important, but you can’t get lost in it,” Mack countered. “Whether it’s golf, or just about anything else in life, Tyler, you need to learn to trust your gut. You’ve hit hundreds of thousands of shots in your life, Tyler. All those shots leave a mark. They leave an indelible little mark that gets filed away in your brain subconsciously, getting stacked one on top of the other. And after years of playing the game, those stacks and stacks of shots create an instinctive reaction to each situation. It’s like gravity. It pulls you in a certain direction so much that most of the time you almost know what club you should hit before you even know the yardage. Trust that, Tyler. Go with it, and know that first instinct comes from experience. There’s more wisdom in those gut reactions than just about anything else.”

“Thank you,” Tyler said after considering it a moment. “I think that’ll really help.”

“You’re welcome,” Mack replied. “Now rake that bunker for me and clean the balls off the green. I want to get things closed up before dark.”

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5 things we learned on Saturday at the 2018 U.S. Open

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Whoops, we did it again. While not as dramatic as the 7th hole concern of 2004, the Saturday of 2018 seemed eerily familiar. The commentators were divided on the question of whether the USGA was pleased with the playing conditions. The suggestion was, the grass in the rough was higher than necessary, and the cuts of the fairway and greens were just a bit too close of a shave. No matter, everyone finished and the band played on. The hashtag #KeepShinnyWeird didn’t trend, but Saturday the 16th was certainly not ordinary. Five weird things we learned, on the way.

5) Phil’s breaking point

It wasn’t violent. No outburst or hysteria. We’d seen Phil leap in triumph at Augusta. Now we’ve seen the Mickelson jog, albeit under most different circumstances. Near as we can determine, for a moment Phil forgot that he was playing a U.S. Open. After belting a downhill, sliding bogey putt well past the mark, the left-handed one discerned that the orb would not come to rest for quite some time: a lower tier beckoned. As if dancing a Tarantella, Phil sprang toward the ball and gave it a spank while still it moved. Just like that, his quadruple-bogey 8 become a 10, thanks to the 2 strokes for striking a moving ball penalty. In true warrior fashion, Mickelson accepted the penalty without questions, intimating that it saved him another stroke or two in the end. Yeesh. Phil, we feel you.

4) DJ’s front-nine free fall

Just as unlikely as Phil’s whack-and-walk was Dustin Johnson’s front nine of 41. The cool gunslinger of Thursday-Friday faced the same turmoil as the other 66 golfers remaining, and the outward nine did not go according to his plan. DJ got past the opening hole with par, after making bogey there on Friday. Number two was another story. Double bogey on the long par three was followed by 4 bogeys in 5 holes, beginning with the 4th. The irony once again was, Johnson struggled on holes that the field did not necessarily find difficult. Hole No. 2 was the 10th-ranked hole for difficulty on day 3, while 4 and 7 were 13th and 11th-ranked, respectively. Hole No. 6 and 8 did fall in the more difficult half, but not by much. At day’s end, however, the tall drink of water remained in contention for his second U.S. Open title.

3) The firm of Berger and Finau

Each likely anticipated no more than a top-15 placing after 3 days, despite posting the two low rounds of the day, 4-under 66. Those efforts brought them from +7 to +3 for the tournament, but Johnson and the other leaders had yet to tee off. Every indication was lower and deeper; then the winds picked up, blustery like the 100 acre wood of Winnie The Pooh. Both golfers posted 6 birdies against 2 bogeys, to play themselves into the cauldron of contention. Berger has one top-10 finish in major events, while Finau has 2. None of those three came in a U.S. Open, so a win tomorrow by either golfer would qualify as an absolute shock.

2) Recent winners fared well

In addition to Johnson, the 2016 champion, Justin Rose (2013) and Brooks Koepka (2017) found themselves near or in the lead for most of the afternoon. Since Shinnecock Hills offers much of what characterizes links golf, it should come as no surprise that 2016 British Open champion Henrik Stenson is also within a handful of strokes of the top spot. Rose played the best tee-to-green golf of the leaders on Saturday, but was unable to coax legitimate birdie efforts from his putter. Koepka was the most impressive putter of the day, making up to 60-feet bombs and consistently holing the clutch par saves. On another note, given his victories at Chambers Bay (2015 U.S. Open) and Royal Birkdale (2017 British Open), the missed cut by Jordan Spieth was the week’s biggest surprise.

1) The wind

The most unpredictable of nature’s weapons, the winds of Shinnecock Hills exposed flaws in the course preparation. Areas that would have held off-line putts, were dried out enough to escort those efforts off the shortest grass, into the runoff compartments. The zephyrs pushed tee balls and approach shots just far enough astray to bring all the danger zones into the recipe. Prediction for tomorrow is, any golfer within 5 shots of the lead has a chance at the title. A Miller-esque round of 63 would bring anyone into contention, if the wind continues to blow. No event appreciates drama more than the U.S. Open, and Sunday at Shinnecock promises plenty of it.

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