Troon Watch: Phantom of the Open

With all that’s going on in the world today, sometimes a feel-good movie is exactly what’s needed. Ask and you shall receive. Better yet, this one features a golf theme. “Phantom of the Open” — currently in theaters nationwide — is based on the true, hilarious, and heartwarming story of a dreamer and unrelenting optimist, Maurice Flitcroft, the “World’s Worst Golfer.”

An ordinary, 46-year-old British shipyard worker, Flitcroft — with encouragement from his family — reminds us to dream big, no matter the outcome.


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When his shipyard lets him go, he feels it’s time to try his hand at something new. Deciding on a whim that golf is his new calling, the budding sportsman sets his sights on mastering the game. But Maurice is not a man to do things by halves and, in a turn of events that can’t be made up, he secures a coveted spot in the qualifying round of the 1976 Open Championship (subsequently won by Johnny Miller) and proceeds to shoot the worst round in Open history, becoming an international folk hero in the process. The Royal & Ancient, tried to ban him from ever playing again.

Phantom of the Open Poster ImageUndeterred, Maurice doesn’t give up and, over the next two decades, he relentlessly tries to qualify for the Open Championship in increasingly bizarre ways. He enters under pseudonyms such as Gene Pacecki, Gerald Hoppy, James Beau Jolly, Arnold Palmtree, and Count Manfred Von Hoffmenstal, among others, employing elaborate disguises such as fake moustaches, wigs, and a deer stalker hat. His golf never improved but was dogged in his determination to pursue his passion. The film stars Oscar winner Mark Rylance and two-time Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Sally Hawkins as Maurice and Jean Flitcroft. One scene presents a classic locker-room conversation between Maurice and Seve Ballesteros. Other scenes involve Maurice’s sons, two disco fanatics of the 1970s with upbeat, nostalgic sing-along music blasting. ▪

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