My youngest daughter, the one that collects Bing Crosby dolls, has always enjoyed golf, both as a participant and spectator. Indeed, the downside to living in Australia is that watching any of the truely great sporting events of the world, such as golf at St Andrews or Augusta, means having to set an alarm to set yourself up in front of the box in the wee hours of the morning. In winter. I’ve generally crawled out from under the covers to keep the daughter company and fed.
The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life is a 1995 American novel by Steven Pressfield that was adapted into the 2000 film The Legend of Bagger Vance. It is one of our favourite movies, and one where the movie is an improved version of the novel.
I watched this again last night after a relaxed day in the Hunter Valley enjoying the sunshine and local Seafood Festival. The Hunter, despite suffering from both drought and bushfires, is a prime wine producing area and so a local chardy joined us on the mystical journey with Bagger Vance.
Mystical? Think Field Of Dreams without the ghostly baseball players. Without corn fields. Sadly, without the delish Ray Liotta.
According to Dr Google , “ Steven Pressfield (author) has acknowledged, Bagger Vance, and the story of his legend, are based on the Hindu epic and scriptural poem, the Bhagavad-Gita. In the epic, Bhagavan is the “Supreme Personality” who helps his follower, Arjuna, understand much about war and about life.
Don’t let that put you off!
The story of Bagger Vance, under played for the first time in his life by a personable Will Smith, is told through Harley, whilst dying of a heart attack as an elderly gent whilst playing golf.
He recounts his childhood memories of a golf exhibition between golfing legends, Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones during the Great Depression, devised to stop the local Golf Club from bankruptcy. To heighten interest, a local golf hero, Rannulph Junuh, is enticed by his ex girlfriend and beneficiary of the Golf Club, to compete in the tournament.
A couple of issues here :
• What’s with this Rannulph? Is there no D in the American alphabet?
• Rannulph is a shell of his former self, following his experiences in World War 1, having been awarded the Medal of Honour. The horrors he has endured made Rannulph give up his girl, give up on life, lose his swing, and develop an inclination to over indulge in whiskey
Bagger Vance, philosopher extraordinaire, arrives on the scene to caddy for Rannulph, played by a young Matt Damon.
I always felt a mans grip on his club is just like a mans grip on his world
I like Damon. Unlike some of his contemporaries he hasn’t hardened with age. It’s not just the regular moisturising routine; he seems a genuinely nice fella. Recently in my neck of the woods with one of those Hemsworth lads Damon was spotted on several occassions with the fam on the beach. Anyone who throws chips to the seagulls has to be a good bloke, hey…
Back to the game of golf…..
it’s a game that can’t be won, only played, so i play on, i play for the moments yet to come, looking for my place in the field.
With Bagger’s encouragement Rannulph finds his “authentic swing” and an odd game where you hit a ball with a stick becomes surprisingly exciting. And Rannulph even gets the girl in Charlize Theron.
The movie ends years later when Harley, after sharing his memories, walks over
to the corn fields to be met by Bagger Vance.
Good little movie, great company, a lovely weekend, and wonderful memories. Always only too happy to support our local (Grape) farmers.