Review of The Back Nine directed by Ron Vignone and Jon Fitzgerald
Rating *** 1/2
The premise for this film is what caught my attention. A fifteen-handicap golfer about to tuen 40, wondered if it would be possible, with the help of technology and professional coaches, to get good enough to compete professionally. It sounded like an impossible goal. All the money in the world hasn’t turned Michael Jordan into a professional golfer.
Jon doesn’t have the money to pay for all of these coaches, nor does he have the money to finance a film. But with a little help from his wife Cindy in the way of marketing, Jon sets off to build his coaching team. It’s a win-win for everyone. Jon gets free training and interview subjects and the coaches get exposure. Why didn’t I think of this?
Jon sets a more realistic goal of competing in the national amature tournament. He teams up with the Golf Channel (another great idea), and starts competing in Golf Channel sponsored events. The coaches help him improve three very important parts of the game: the swing, physical, and mental. He wins his very first tournament with a score of 84.
But it soon becomes apparent that getting better at golf requires a huge time committment. Jon’s other job is as a film festival director for a film festival he started called Slamdance. Slamdance is a well-known film festival and screenplay competition. I’ve even submitted a couple of my screenplays. Jon has bills to pay just like all of us, and he isn’t getting any money to make this film. So when he gets an offer to start a film festival in Saudi Arabia, he decides that a paycheck is more important.
This is where the film strays from the original premise and focuses more on family than golf, specifically Jon’s relationship with his father and stepfather. In the end the film and its title – The Back Nine – become a metaphor for the second half of life.
So while I would have liked to have seen more of the process that resulted in a ten stroke improvement in his golf game, the end result was still satisfying.