Cinema: Buddy, Caddie, Guru

Fairway of Dreams? Nah, golf drama The Legend of Bagger Vance is stuck in a sand trap of mysticism

Golf being the sort of game most of its players rather romantically seem to think it is--a lonely struggle with one's inner demons--it has inspired a good deal of quasi-mystical writing. The Legend of Bagger Vance is based on one of the novels--an uneasy blend of self-help and soft-core spirituality--that golfers solemnly pass from hand to hand. It is essentially the story of Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon), a local golfing great in Savannah, Ga., whose awful experiences in World War I have caused him to "lose his swing." As a result, he spends more than a decade drunk and disorderly. Then,...

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