Francis Ouimet
  • Library of Congress
  • Francis Ouimet

The other day I had what I briefly thought was a pretty good idea.

I happened to turn on the TV and catch the last half hour or so of The Greatest Game Ever Played, which is a Disney movie about an underdog who prevailed. Our underdog was a young, unknown American amateur golfer named Francis Ouimet, who against all odds competed in the U.S. Open for the first time in 1913, took two top British professionals, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, into a playoff, and beat them both. Vardon was a previous Open champion considered the greatest golfer of his era. Ray was the defending British Open champ and he’d win the U.S. Open a few years later.

As I watched, I wondered. Was Ouimet’s caddie actually ten years old? Yes. Did Ouimet actually defeat Vardon by a stroke, steadying his nerves and sinking the decisive putt on the 18th hole of the playoff round? No. Ouimet won by five strokes. Oh, and the girlfriend was made up. In other words, the facts were often true but improved upon where necessary, and sweetened. The Greatest Game Ever Played is heartwarming, it’s inspiring, it’s the kind of feel-good movie for the whole family that no one makes better than Disney.

But the competition is keen. And this led me to my idea for the next great heartwarming movie.