Tag Archives: Tin Cup

My Favorite Scene in “Tin Cup”: The 7-Iron Speech

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I meant to time this to the next time the Golf Channel runs a “Tin Cup” marathon, as it periodically does, but the approaching U.S. Open as timing seems just as good a reason.

Besides being the most anticipated tournaments of the year, the majors are just a great time in general to celebrate golf. That said, I’d to like to pay tribute to my favorite scene in the greatest golf movie of all time, “Tin Cup,” which we all know culminated in Roy McAvoy playing in the fictional U.S. Open.

I’ve watched golfers quote this movie, and even sing the songs, verbatim, showing how ingrained into the golf souls of people who love the game “Tin Cup” has become since it was made 1996 with, legend has it, input from Gary McCord, among others.

I’ve never tried it, but I’m sure a debate about a favorite scene in this movie could rage on for hours in the right crowd, and why wouldn’t it? Save from the romantic comedy scenes, what golf scene in this film isn’t iconic and, many times, relatable?

Roy getting the shanks on the range? Tin Cup: “Romes (his caddy), something’s terribly wrong!” What golfer can’t relate to the hopelessness of that? Or Romeo’s diagnosis: “The shanks are like a virus. They just show up.”

There’s the scene of Roy hitting the shot as David Simms’ caddie. There’s Roy knocking the pelican off the post after a bar bet. There’s Simms’ cunning bouncing of his 7-shot down the road to win a bet with Roy. And then there’s the culminating scene where Roy holes out to take a 12 on No. 18 at the Open after refusing to lay up – again.

But out of all that, if you’re telling me I only get one scene to take with me to a desert island to watch ‘til infinity, it’s the 7-iron scene.

The 7-iron scene is where Roy blows up on the course in his first Open qualifier in a dispute with his caddie, Romeo (Cheech Marin), about laying up on a par-5. We all know what happens next: Following Romeo’s lead, Roy breaks all the clubs in his bag – except his beloved and trusted 7-iron.

I believe the dialogue that follows to be the closest thing we have to golf poetry in that it speaks to the misgivings we’ve each had at one point or another about every club in our bag, and our unshakable faith in our 7-iron. You know it’s a day gone wrong on the course when your 7-iron betrays you.

In fact, a trust hierarchy of clubs probably starts 7-iron/putter/wedge … and ends somewhere with your long irons and possibly your driver, depending on how it’s going on the time.

Anyway, besides the sheer comedy and absurdity of the scene (it’s a bit like when Gene Hackman chose to play with four in “Hoosiers), I believe it’s the innate and universal truth about golf clubs that comes out amidst Roy’s rage that I find so endearing about this scene.

So for your amusement, appreciation and study (if you’ve never bothered to slow it down and catch every word) here’s my translation of the 7-iron speech.

To set the scene, Romeo (R in the screen play) and Roy (TC) are standing over Roy’s second shot on par-5, dogleg left. Roy wants to go for the green in two (“I’m going to go over those trees, with a little draw.”) while Romeo is preaching caution (“You don’t need the course record to qualify. You need to practice playing it safe.”)

And thus a golf feud for the ages plays out …

TC: Qualify? I want the course record. Now give me the lumber.

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R: You’re not going to listen to me, are you?

TC: Now give me the driver and shut up.

R: You want the driver? (Snaps it over his leg.) Hit the driver, Tin Cup.

TC: I changed my mind. Give me the 3-wood.

R: You can’t clear that dogleg with a 3-wood.

TC: Want to bet?

R: Fine, take the 3-wood. (Breaks it and throws it.)

TC: (To the gallery) Guess I’m going with the safe shot, boys. (Takes the 2-iron from the bag.)

TC: But you know, sometimes I fan that 2. (Snaps it over his leg.)

TC: You better give me the 3. (Romeo hands him the 3-iron.)

TC: And sometimes I catch that 3 a little thin, too. (Snaps it and throws it on the ground.)

TC: I’ve hit fliers with the 4. (Snap.)

R: (Softly implores while looking ashen) Hit the ball, Roy.

TC: I’ve hooked my 5. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve shanked my 6. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve skulled the 8. (Steps on it. Snap.)

TC: I’ve fatted the 9. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve chili-dipped the wedge. (Snap.)

TC: I’ve bladed the sand. (Snap.)

R: Putter? (Handing him the putter.)

TC: Yeah, there is Mr. Three Wiggle, isn’t there? (Snap.)

(Roy grabs the 7-iron with Romeo looking on in disgust.)

TC: Then there’s the 7-iron. I never miss with the 7-iron. (Kicking club debris aside.)

“It’s the only truly safe club in my bag.”

Before Roy can hit, Romeo walks off the course, shouting in exasperation, “What the hell’s wrong with you?!?”

The classic extension of Roy’s rant is that, before hitting the shot, he challenges the gallery: “Anybody want to bet me I can’t par in with a 7-iron?”

Of course, none of Roy’s supporters takes the bet, and Roy proceeds to qualify by playing out with just his 7-iron.

Anyway, most of the scenes in “Tin Cup” will stop me and pull me in when I find this movie at random, but especially the 7-iron scene. For all the reasons listed above, I believe it’s the greatest golf scene ever written not involving a fight with Bob Barker – which is for another blog post entirely.;)

Welcome to the So. Cal Golf Blog

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         Ideally this post would’ve come first, but we were doing a bit of experimenting here at the home office while getting up and running and needed some quick content, or at least things that would give you a bit of a feel for what the content mix is going to be here, so first things came first.

         This week is what we’re considering the actual launch of the blog in that there should begin to be regular updates and a compatible Twitter feed. We’ll see how it goes, but we’ve got some fun stuff planned.

         At this point you may be wondering who I am and what this all about it. If so, that would make you the first of the many astute followers I hope to have here at the Southern California Golf blog.

         In short, I’m a former sportswriter and lifestyle magazine editor from the Midwest (originally from Iowa) who moved to California a year ago to seek a career in the golf industry, or related to.  I moved to San Diego in June of 2012 and attended the Golf Academy of America (yes, I went to golf college) in Carlsbad for two semesters before re-launching myself professionally in May by doing some work freelance work for Southland Golf, a monthly golf magazine published out of Orange County that covers golf on the coast. (You can see all the work I’ve done to date for them posted on the blog and tagged under Southland Golf.)

         Besides writing, I’ve spent the summer golfing, traveling, golfing while I’m traveling and networking with those in the golf industry. For instance, I went to Las Vegas in August for the West Coast PGA Show and had a blast.

         What you’ll see here is material generated from some of those experiences that hasn’t found a home yet in my professional work. I’m experimenting here a little with my writing and what I have to say about the big, wide, wonderful world of Southern California golf … and beyond. I went to Hawaii this summer as well. (I should maybe mention here that I’m having the best golf year of my life and look forward to telling you all about it.)

         Anyway, what I’m envisioning the content being here is a mix of course reviews, offshoots of some of the stories I do about the golf industry here in Carlsbad, topics I find timely and amusing from the golf world at large (see my post about Arnold Palmer) and other musings about daily life on the links in Southern California. At its best, I hope this blog will read like banter on a tee box, just two playing partners chatting it up on the course and talking about the things golfers talk about on the course (course recommendations, playing experiences, equipment, the tour, etc.) while we’re waiting – and out here, this can be awhile – for our next shot.

         What you won’t find here, such as when I write course reviews, is negativity. This space is meant to be a celebration and exploration of the golf bounty we are blessed to enjoy every day here in So. Cal.  Despite having played here now for some 14 months, I still consider myself in a bit of a honeymoon  phase with California golf. For all I’ve done, there’s so much more to explore, enjoy and appreciate.

         That’s not to say I’m not annoyed by slow play and the other issues that impact golf here on a daily basis, but when I write a course review, for instance, I hope it generates positive discussion about the course and doesn’t devolve into dwelling on rates, course conditions, service, etc. There are plenty of places to do that on the world wide web. I’d like to build a little on-line golf community here that embraces what’s great about golf here, because there’s so much that is. And if I can introduce newcomers, or travelers, to some of what’s great here, all the better. I still feel like I’m walking a bit in those golf shoes myself and my natural curiosity about everything golf here is part of what will be fueling the content.

         If you’re wondering about my game, it’s the best it’s ever been. My time in school, continuing lessons and practice, and capable playing partners have given me a game that will play anywhere. I’m just below a 10 handicap (I’ve been as low as an 8) and have a steady short game, a long game that keeps me competitive off the tee and an iron game that … needs work. The new Mizuno’s I bought and had fitted through school have helped greatly, but I still don’t hit enough greens.

         I shot 82 (37 on the back) at The Crossings in Carlsbad recently to lower my career low by a stroke. I’m on the hunt to break 80 and will probably document some of that process here as I’ve got some tips. My other goal is to shoot par for nine holes, which I nearly did during the Crossings round.

         I don’t have a home course, per se. School, my assignments and my travels have provided me opportunities throughout the region to play a number of spectacular public and private facilities, everywhere from Torrey Pines, Maderas and Journey at Pechanga to Marbella, La Costa and Coto De Caza. And I played both Kapalua courses (Plantation and Bay) while in Maui, a trip I most definitely WILL be writing about in the future.

         To close, a few random golf tidbits about me:

         – Favorite scene from “Tin Cup”: The scene where Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner) breaks all his clubs in a dispute with his caddy – except his seven-iron.  “I never miss with the seven-iron,” he says. “It’s the only truly safe club in my bag.”

         –       First shot I ever saw in a golf tournament I covered: A hole-in-one. No kidding.     

         –       Personal number of hole-in-ones: One. Labor Day 2012, No. 3 at the Vineyard in Escondido. 

         –       First PGA Tour event I attended: the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straights, yes, the one with the infamous sand-trap penalty on Dustin Johnson. 

         –        Favorite magazine golf piece: Rick Reilly’s attempt to par the Road Hole at the Old Course, published in Sports Illustrated in 1995. This was in his long-form days. SI was my sports writing textbook and this was one of the most impactful pieces for me and probably led to what I’m doing now. More about this in a future post. 

         –        Golf motto, especially when I’m having a bad round: There are 100 ways to enjoy a round of golf.

         Make that 101. I’ll add “Reading about it” to the list and hope to give you plenty of original material here that gives you reason to agree with me.