SAN DIEGO – Jason Connery knows his way around a golf course.
But, despite having enjoyed the game since his youth, the son of Hollywood legend Sean Connery freely admits that golf is “quite a polarizing game.” Many love it, but many others are immune to its charms.
Fortunately for Connery, the same doesn’t appear to be true of his latest directorial effort, “Tommy’s Honour,” which was released in theaters April 14.
Set in Scotland in the latter half of the 19th century, Connery said, the film tells the true story of “Old Tom” Morris, recognized as “the founding father of golf,” and his son, “Young Tommy” Morris, “a trailblazer” who became the sport’s first touring professional.
In an April 6 telephone interview, Connery told The Southern Cross that even those outside the golfing community have expressed “a lot of appreciation of the film.”
The reason might be that, while the dawn of golf’s modern era provides its backdrop, Connery said, the film is a “multi-layered” story about “a man’s love for his son,” the “tragic love story” between that son and the woman he marries, and the son’s rebellion against the class system of the day, which seemed determined to deny him the fortune that was his talent’s due.
Explaining that he opted to show only highlights from the many tournaments in which the younger Morris competed, Connery said, “I worked at not making the drama be driven by the outcome of the game.”
While viewers will undoubtedly care about whether the protagonist wins or loses, he added, “I had other things going on with the characters dramatically, so that it wasn’t just about the golf games. We were following a dramatic line that was going through the game while they were playing, and for me, that takes the curse off having to have the game be the dramatic outcome of the film.”
Connery has strong ties to Scotland, where he grew up, went to school, began his career as a professional actor, and where he currently owns a cottage.
His affinity for golf dates back to his childhood, when he played the game with his famous father. It’s a family activity that has continued to the present day, he said, sharing that father and son had hit the links as recently as three weeks prior to his Southern Cross interview.
When first approached about the film, Connery was at his cottage, located about two and a half hours from St. Andrews Links, where Old Tom served as master greens keeper. He read the book, Tommy’s Honour: The Extraordinary Story of Golf’s Founding Father and Son by Kevin Cook, in just one sitting.
“I was quite surprised that the story had never been told [on-screen], and I feel as though I’d seen films about Bobby Jones and other professional golfers that came later, but this was the very beginning,” Connery said.
He expressed hope that golfers who see the film will appreciate its depiction of the sport’s early days – “how it started, where it started and who started it” – while non-golfers will find themselves drawn in by the dramatic true story.
He said he would like to see the film serve as “a gateway into the game.”