Golf isn’t the most galvanizing of subjects to make a movie about. The best one ever made, Ron Shelton’s “Tin Cup,” starring Kevin Costner, got around that problem by being about a golfer while focusing on just about everything except golf.
“Tommy’s Honour” can’t quite pull off that ploy because it’s tasked with being about two of the founders of modern golf: Tom Morris (Peter Mullan), known as Old Tom, and his son, Tommy (Jack Lowden), known – for some reason – as Young Tom. Even so, director Jason Connery and his writers, Pamela Marin and Kevin Cook, attempt to invest the father-son dynamic with enough roiling conflict to satisfy even Eugene O’Neill.
Old Tom, circa mid-19th century, is a groundskeeper and instructor at Scotland’s famous St. Andrews golf course. With a large family to feed, he’s mindful of his somewhat servile position with the hierarchy of upper-class twits who heed his golf advice without allowing him a club membership. Young Tom, a far more prodigious player than his father, does not want to end up a caddy and greenskeeper and rapidly becomes a champion who demands a much larger share of his winnings from the wealthy sponsors of his matches.
Connery (an actor as well, and the son of Sean Connery) keeps the performers honest, and a few of the father-son tussles, with their admixture of love and envy, are powerful. Most of the time, though, we’re watching a conventionally told movie about people who are anything but conventional. Grade: B (Rated PG for thematic elements, some suggestive material, language, and smoking.)