This is a curious, rather old-fashioned DVD. It tells the story of the great British golfer Henry Cotton, three times winner of the Open Championship (1934, 1937 and 1948) and in his day unquestionably one of the most controlled and impressive players in the world. In doing so, it moves on to the 1970s and the development of golf worldwide, linking this particularly to Cotton's own move to the Algarve where he pioneered course building and golf development, and the World Cup, of which there is some film. Some attention is paid to Oriental (especially Japanese) golfers, as if the filmmakers are aware that this is a big growth area for golf as a sport.
On the negative side, some of the DVD looks very dated. That's OK when archive film (black and white or sepia) of golf in the early part of the 20th century is shown - and there is some marvellous film here - but not so OK when non-digital colour film from the 70s appears. But that is film of Nicklaus and Johnny Miller (and others) in their heyday, and it is worth seeing. In places the editing is clumsy. And when the film moves to Penina (in the Algarve) and shows footage of multi-storey flats being built for the tourist industry, it's just dull. However, there are only a few minutes of this.
But there is a lot that is very valuable here, and most of that centres on Cotton. We see him playing in his heyday, and indeed much later on, at the age of 67. Tony Jacklin, Cotton's 'Rookie of the Year' at the beginning of his career, talks about meeting Cotton and his own career after that. We see Cotton in conversation with Gary Player, a man who, in some ways (the dedication, the obsessive commitment) is quite like Cotton. He talks to camera about his own career, and is particularly interesting about his win in 1934 (after 13 years of US dominance in the Open) and his determination to win social respect for professional golfers, who in those days had to change in tents and use outside lavatories and were not allowed inside clubhouses, even at the Open, as a rule. They were, he says, treated as 'servants'. As for the 1934 win, his first three rounds (famously) were 65, 67 and 72, amazing scores for that time, and he led by a barrowload of strokes, but before the final round his start was delayed and, affected by stomach ulcers, he began to suffer stomach cramps as he waited alone in the starter's box, so much so that he was unsure whether he would be able to walk across to the first tee. He managed, but the wheels did come off and for a while it looked as if there might be, as he puts it 'a disaster' but suddenly on the 13th., he felt better and completed the round in 79, still winning by 5 shots. It is a dramatic story, and he tells it well, with accompanying shots of the starter's box, the first tee and some of the round at Royal St. George's.
In the end, this DVD looks dated and amateurish in comparison with what you'll see today of international professional golf. However, it is in many ways rather special, and much more important than the glossy film of yet another Masters of US Open or whatever, with putts going in all over the place and wedge shots screwing back to two inches from the hole. This DVD is genuinely historic and explores some of the circumstances that led to today's situation, and for all its faults, it deserves a warm recommendation.Read more ›