The Short Game
By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Fabulous, kid-friendly docu about world's youngest golfers.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids will learn about golf (terminology, how it's scored, and swing/stance techniques) and the persistence, discipline, and determination it takes to play a sport like golf on an international level. These aren't just kids who play once or twice a week; they play every single day for hours a day.
The way that such young prodigies handle the stress of being award-winning golfers teaches kids the importance of perseverance, knowing how to be a gracious winner, and the value of trying again after a setback. Allan's caddy/coach reminds him that you never delight in an opponent's failure. Zama's family approaches the tournament with the hope that he'll do his best and love the game, not necessarily that he'll win. Amari's family admits that their hopes and dreams that come along with her being an internationally ranked athlete. Jed's mother explains how having a passion has transformed her son.
Positive Role Models
All of the kids work incredibly hard to be exceptional at golf; the parents are all supportive and encouraging of their children's talents. Amari's dad genuinely wants to help his daughter calm her frustration and check her attitude; Zama's father just wants him to have fun and remember to enjoy the game. Augustin's mother thinks golf is just one of many ways her son is surrounded by "excellence." Savannah's dad believes she's learning about leadership, success, and how to handle disappointment.
One dad says "goddamn it!" out of anger and frustration, and another dad encourages his daughter to "kick ass." One kid says "shoot!" every time she has a bad swing.
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Allan's personal trainer wears a Crossfit T-shirt, the Kournikovas belong to Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, and Allan drinks from water bottles emblazoned with Trump's face.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Short Game is a documentary about the world's best golfers ... ages 8 and under. The filmmakers followed eight 7- and 8-year-old golfers from around the globe who gather yearly at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina. The elite young golfers include a range of kids -- crossing cultural, racial, and class lines -- and they're all presented as worthy role models with supportive parents. The documentary is extremely kid/family-friendly overall, though one dad does say "goddamn it!" and another says "kick ass." The Short Game will teach kids both the basics of golf and what it takes to be a world-class athlete at such a young age.
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The Short Game
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Fun and inspiring for all ages!
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What's the Story?
Every year, North Carolina's exclusive golf resort, Pinehurst, hosts the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship. THE SHORT GAME follows the stories of eight competitors ages 8 and under who are vying to be the best in the world. The kids cross cultural, racial, and class lines. There's the affluent Allan Kournikova (tennis champ Anna's baby brother), who plays at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach; his best friend, Alexa Pano, who never loses; Parisian Augustin Valery, the great-grandson of French poet Paul Valery; and Texas belle Sky Sudberry. Then there's working class Amari "Tigress" Avery, who fancies herself the second coming of Tiger Woods, self-taught Kuang Yang from China, serious Filipino prodigy Jed Dy, and happy-go-lucky South African Zama Nxasana. No matter where these kids come from, one thing's for sure: They all want to take home the top prize at Pinehurst.
Is It Any Good?
Even if you have zero interest in golf, this movie will suck you in with its focus on a group of global prodigies who started playing the sport at a very young age. Like any story about "outliers" who've turned thousands of hours of practice into expertise, The Short Game's dramatic tension comes from the passion these players display (and, in some cases, from the tension many of them experience with their "daddy caddies") at such a high-stakes competition. These kids aren't hobbyists at the tee; they're exceptional. Some come from money, and some just became obsessed with a golf tutorial DVD. One is thrilled to be "most improved player," while another mutters an angry "shoot" after every subpar swing. They may be in second or third grade, but these kids act like professionals when there's a club in their hand.
Through interviews not only with the eight contenders but also their parents, coaches, and adult golf legends, director Josh Greebaum explores the origins of greatness. The pros talk about what truly makes a golfer -- or any athlete -- have "it": a combination of raw talent, technical mastery, and love of the game that propels them. In the end, every viewer will have their favorites to root for (although the universally cheerful Zama and his encouraging dad are hard to beat) and will watch in awe as these kids prove that, on the golf course, they're already legends.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why sports documentaries are so popular. Do you need to know anything about (or even like) golf to enjoy The Short Game? Why or why not?
What did you think about the interviews with the professional golfers? What do they have to say about "making it" in the game of golf -- or any sport?
The movie subtly deals with class issues. Do you think it's easier to become a renowned athlete if your family has more money? Does The Short Game explain how money factors into the sport?
Which young golfer did you root for the most? Which families had the healthiest attitude about their kids' performance?
- In theaters: September 20, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: June 10, 2014
- Director: Josh Greenbaum
- Studio: Phase 4 Films
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some language
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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