The Back Nine

While perusing the collection of documentaries on DVD at the local library, I ran across The Back Nine which tells the story of a 40-year-old’s pursuit of his dream to play golf on the PGA Tour.

I thought it an interesting subject, given the rather common fantasy of most passionate golfers to have the talent and mental fortitude to play the game professionally.  Unfortunately, Jon Fitzgerald – the subject, author, co-producer and co-director – has neither the talent nor the fortitude; and to throw in a little extra, he also doesn’t have the time.

Hmmmm …

You could see where this was heading halfway through, which is about where I stopped watching.  If you really don’t have the time to devote to this “dream” of yours, why should I waste my time watching it?  I’m just thankful I didn’t have to buy it!

Jon lines up FOUR … count’em!  … FOUR coaches, a life coach, swing coach, and two other I-can’t-even-remember-what coaches to help him mold his game.  He even goes out and wins his very first amateur tournament, surprisingly enough with a 12-over-par round.  Now, I’m in no position to criticize another man’s golf game; but you have to wonder if his competition was even ambulatory with those scores!

Shortly after this comes the “WTF? moment”, when Jon outlines his struggle to find enough time in his whirlwind producer, film festival organizing, family-man life to devote to his game.  When one of his golf coaches relates a conversation where Jon plans to spend “a whole ten hours a week” on his “professional” golf game, I lunged for the video remote’s Cease & Desist Button!  Even the coach seemed incredulous at what little golfing he planned to do!

If I spent 10 hours-a-week on “nothing but golf”, I might just get my gargantuan handicap down to No Longer Embarrassing Myself.  But even the Worst Golfer Alive could figure out where this time-starved project was heading …  Absolutely Nowhere! 

Apparently all that I missed by not watching the rest of the story was Mr. Fitzgerald’s struggle to balance the demands of his professional life and his family with his desire to play golf.  I’m not sure how that differs from any other Regular Working Joe, who has to scrape together enough time to fit in his golf.  And in addition, he also spends a good part of the project reconnecting with his two fathers.  In other words, it turns into a guy’s version of a Lifetime Movie!

Me thinks Jon Fitzgerald was just looking for a Pay Day.

Give me a break …

Recommendation:  Don’t bother!

6 thoughts on “The Back Nine

  1. Completely agree with you! I stopped watching about the same point in the movie as you, and for the same reason. 🙂


  2. Hmm…I enjoyed the movie, and I think that he actually showed how much you can accomplish if you give it at least as much as you have to give. He finished his season ranked #2 and got his desired invitation to the nationals. Even without scads of practice time, his improvement was marked. That in itself is a valuable lesson because most people don’t even give themselves a chance in the first place, assuming that unless conditions are ideal, they won’t be able to achieve anything at all.

    So much emphasis in our society is placed on the accomplishments of people who have given and are giving 100% of their time to one thing to the exclusion of other obligations–often from a young age. Such individuals have admirable discipline and dedication, but probably have less to offer the general populace by way of example than someone like Jon Fitzgerald. In watching till the end, it becomes clear that the documentary is just as much about finding one’s most important priorities and coming to grips with one’s limitations as it is about becoming a professional golfer.

    Also, the difference between Jon’s struggle and the golf hobbyist is that Jon’s ambition was on the level of lifelong dream, not just something he’d like to do more of if he could find the time. Many people have to deal at one point or another with things that they truly hoped for that may well not come to pass, for whatever reason. Some have never dreamt that big, but if you have, the documentary gives cause for reflection.


    • Thanks for commenting, and Thanks for the perspective.

      From the traffic this post gets, a lot of people must have liked the documentary. Maybe my expectations were the problem …


  3. Now, now. Let’s not be so harsh. Real grown-ups who are not independently wealthy and who have families have real priorities that must be balanced against dreams. Considering that he kept all the balls in the air and managed to make huge strides toward achieving his dream, I am impressed. I am inspired.

    That was the point, was it not? How relevant to the potential audience would the movie be if Jon had been a rich guy who could just spend his full time practicing? The fun is that he is so much like the rest of us and has to struggle with the same challenges we are all facing. You view that as a flaw, but I view it as the central strength. Go, Jon! His story is not over yet!


    • Thanks, Heather. But I saw Jon’s failure as a inability to recognize his limitations, along with the hubris to think he still has something to sell. He doesn’t have the time, the dedication or the interest really to make “the golf dream” work. Yet he still tries to sell the product – his little DVD documentary – as some sort of sage life lesson.

      Sorry … Not buying it!

      This guy strikes me as a shameless self-promoter, trying to make a buck off a half-assed story.

      Thanks for leaving the comment!
      – Mike


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