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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

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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

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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

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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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  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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Opinion & Analysis

Two great golf books: “The Rating Game” and “Golf’s Holy War”

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A proper book review pretends to reveal enough of the volume’s contents, that the review reader is enticed to purchase the book with great rapidity. In our time, this might mean AbeBooks, or Amazon, or some other online service. A proper book review communicates the notion that the reviewer understands, in a most profound manner, the intent of the author and the magic of the words. Two proper book reviews are almost too much to handle; the reader pauses nervously, uncertain which tome to purchase first.

You, dear reader, are fortunate. You are about to read two proper book reviews, so let me caution you: you cannot err. Whichever of the two books you purchase, or read, first, will be worthwhile. As will the second. Their topics are dissimilar at first light. As often happens, especially with golf’s great devotees, you will draw connections between the intentions of the scribes and the subjects.

You have my reviews at the beginning, in case you are pressed for time. Both books are well worth the bitcoin that you will exchange for them. Each is an intellectual exercise, and will demand that you dedicate your attention and your thinking to its understanding. Don’t rush the readings, and be sure to prepare a warm mug of your favorite coffee or tea. Have it close at hand as you break the seal on these tomes.

Enjoy, then, reviews of “The Rating Game” and “Golf’s Holy War.”

“The Rating Game”

Why you chose this book~

Human beings like order. Plain and simple. We encourage physical order, chronological order, and even emotional order (the last one is a doozy.) Following closely on the heels of order, is importance of order. We determine that certain items, events, or feelings must supersede others, and presto, we arrive at ranking. Human beings also like to converse, chat, gossip, and we love to share the new with each other. Whether out of envy or a desire for truth, we often compare our, or someone else’s, new with an other. Thus emerges the controversy in ranking.

At the beginning, it is nearly impossible to keep personal opinion, or emotional attachment, out of a ranking. As will all other skills, we need to learn how to properly and impartially rank. Once we remove the personal from the task, our eyes clear and we move toward an outcome. Jonathan Cummings has decades of experience as a golf course rater/ranker. His day job, for nearly four decades, was as a research test and measurements mechanical engineer. He is certainly a fellow who likes numbers, the statistics that they provide, and the relevance of those statistics. He is an expert in golf course ranking, and you love golf. Now it’s time to learn what goes into the rankings that you read each year, in golf’s print and digital magazines.

Some of what you will find~

Eight chapters, with titles like “The Ranking History,” “Categories or Not,” and “The Perfect Rater,” offer a complete assessment of the fundamentals and complexities of rating a golf course for architectural ranking. Cummings draws on personal experiences, both good and bad, equal parts serious and humorous, to make his points about all aspects of the ranking lists that exist, from classic to modern, USA to world, public to casino.

What to take away~

*An understanding of the difference between USGA/R&A course rating, and magazine course rating for ranking purposes. The USGA and the R & A assess courses for difficulty, in both course and slope numbers. Magazines continually acuminate their systems, on the eternal path toward the perfect rating system.

*An appreciation for the subtlety and nuance that, intentionally or not, occur in golf course architecture.

*An admission that different schools of architecture have existed over the past 150 years, and which particulars are held as fundamental elements of golf course design.

“Golf’s Holy War”

Why you chose this book~

There are days when golf feels spiritual, a retreat from the chores of the daily grind, an entry into a beyond that gives us respite. The sun, the dim, the wind, the calm, the trees, the views … no matter the natural elements, we are at peace, with our only responsibility being to our self. And on those days, sometimes, we play well. Our swing finds a rhythm, the golf shots develop a cadence, and the numbers that appear on our scorecard are a pleasant surprise. The question, though, is which side of our self is responsible for the outcome?

Brett Cyrgalis is a sportswriter. He covers hockey and golf, most days. The subtitle of his book, the battle for the soul of a game in an age of science, reveals the dichotomy of golf. It is a game to most of us, but it is a business to a growing percentage of participants. Competitors, coaches, teachers, salespeople, the entire product-development chain, all combine efforts to shape the game that we enjoy. Each of these business people depends on a reduction of the random, a coalescence in order. In contrast, it is the arrival of the unexpected that shapes the golf that the weekend warrior, the buddy tripper, comes to know.

Some of what you will find~

Reading this volume was an existential experience for me. Not so much for what reason I exist, but how I came to exist, golfwise. Cyrgulis connects some of golf’s most important writings, figures, and events to substantiate his thesis: from Homer Kelley’s The Golfing Machine to Michael Murphy’s Golf In The Kingdom; spanning Ben Hogan to Tiger Woods, and the advent of the mind as 15th club (or is it 1st?)

In addition to writing for GolfWRX, I teach Spanish at a high school in Buffalo, NY. During this time of coronavirus, COVID-19, and virtual instruction, I am compelled to re-examen the way I teach, the manner in which students learn and acquire, and education as a whole. Cyrgalis devotes many pages to the history of instruction, and its present and future direction. Golf’s Holy War is an almanac for a one to three-decade span of golf’s human history.

What to take away~

*An opportunity to build another shelf for your golf book collection. I went to Abebooks while reading, to add a few volumes to my own putter’s parish. I now have The Golfing Machine, The Art and Zen of Learning Golf, and Get a Grip on Physics (I’ll let you figure out the importance of that last one!)

*A quandry~am I left or right brain, or both, or neither? Trust me, we all have our days of each of the three options. More important is, when am I at my best?

*Most important: should I change anything? We are all tempted to try something new, and changing from artist to scientist, and vice-versa, is usually detrimental. That said, life is short and challenges, worthwhile.

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Elk is in the house!

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In this episode of TGD brought to you by Titleist, Johnny chats with the one, the only, the legend Steve Elkington.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The differences between good and bad club fitters—and they’re not what you think

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Club fitting is still a highly debated topic, with many golfers continuing to believe they’re just not good enough to be fit. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s a topic for another day.

Once you have decided to invest in your game and equipment, however, the next step is figuring out where to get fit, and working with a fitter.  You see, unlike professionals in other industries, club fitting “certification” is still a little like the wild west. While there are certification courses and lesson modules from OEMs on how to fit their specific equipment, from company to company, there is still some slight variance in philosophy.

Then there are agnostic fitting facilities that work with a curated equipment matrix from a number of manufacturers. Some have multiple locations all over the country and others might only have a few smaller centralized locations in a particular city. In some cases, you might even be able to find single-person operations.

So how do you separate the good from the bad? This is the million-dollar question for golfers looking to get fit. Unless you have experience going through a fitting before or have a base knowledge about fitting, it can feel like an intimidating process. This guide is built to help you ask the right questions and pay attention to the right things to make sure you are getting the most out of your fitting.

The signs of a great fitter

  • Launch monitor experience: Having some type of launch monitor certification isn’t a requirement but being able to properly understand the interpret parameters is! A good fitter should be able to explain the parameters they are using to help get the right clubs and understand how to tweak specs to help you get optimized. The exact labeling may vary depending on the type of launch monitor but they all mostly provide the same information….Here is an example of what a fitter should be looking for in an iron fitting: “The most important parameter in an iron fitting” 
  • Communication skills: Being able to explain why and how changes are being made is a telltale sign your fitter is knowledgeable—it should feel like you are learning something along the way. Remember, communication is a two-way street so also being a good listener is another sign your working with a good fitter.
  • Transparency: This involves things like talking about price, budgets, any brand preferences from the start. This prevents getting handed something out of your price range and wasting swings during your fit.
  • A focus on better: Whether it be hitting it further and straighter with your driver or hitting more greens, the fitting should be goal-orientated. This means looking at all kinds of variables to make sure what you are getting is actually better than your current clubs. Having a driver you hit 10 yards farther isn’t helpful if you don’t know where it’s going….A great fitter that knows their stuff should quickly be able to narrow down potential options to 4-5 and then work towards optimizing from there.
  • Honesty and respect: These are so obvious, I shouldn’t even have to put it on the list. I want to see these traits from anybody in a sales position when working with customers that are looking to them for knowledge and information…If you as the golfer is only seeing marginal gains from a new product or an upgrade option, you should be told that and given the proper information to make an informed decision. The great fitters, and I’ve worked with a lot of them, will be quick to tell a golfer, “I don’t think we’re going to beat (X) club today, maybe we should look at another part of your bag where you struggle.” This kind of interaction builds trust and in the end results in happy golfers and respected fitters.

The signs of a bad fitter

  • Pushing an agenda: This can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Whether it be a particular affinity towards certain brands of clubs or even shafts. If you talk to players that have all been to the same fitter and their swings and skill levels vary yet the clubs or brands of shafts they end up with (from a brand agnostic facility) seem to be eerily similar it might be time to ask questions.
  • Poor communications: As you are going through the fitting process and warming up you should feel like you’re being interviewed as a way to collect data and help solve problems in your game. This process helps create a baseline of information for your fitter. If you are not experiencing that, or your fitter isn’t explaining or answering your questions directly, then there is a serious communication problem, or it could show lack of knowledge depth when it comes to their ability.
  • Lack of transparency: If you feel like you’re not getting answers to straightforward questions or a fitter tells you “not to worry about it” then that is a big no-no from me.
    Side note: It is my opinion that golfers should pay for fittings, and in a way consider it a knowledge-gathering session. Of course, the end goal for the golfer is to find newer better fitting clubs, and for the fitter to sell you them (let’s be real here), but you should never feel the information is not being shared openly.
  • Pressure sales tactics: It exists in every industry, I get it, but if you pay for your fitting you are paying for information, use it to your advantage. You shouldn’t feel pressured to buy, and it’s always OK to seek out a knowledgeable second opinion (knowledgeable being a very key word in that sentence!).  If you are getting the hard sell or any combination of the traits above, there is a good chance you’re not working with the right fitter for you.

Final thoughts

Great fitters with great reputations and proper knowledge have long lists, even waiting lists, of golfers waiting to see them. The biggest sign of a great fitter is a long list of repeat customers.

Golf is a game that can be played for an entire lifetime, and just like with teachers and swing coaches, the good ones are in it for the long haul to help you play better and build a rapport—not just sell you the latest and greatest (although we all like new toys—myself included) because they can make a few bucks.

Trust your gut, and ask questions!

 

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