"You had fighting, gambling and swearing. It was a working class game," director Jason Connery says. "It was almost pugilistic."

Believe it or not he's talking about golf. Yes, the gentlemanly game with its stuffy reputation, slow pace and gentile nature wasn't always that way. As Connery's new film Tommy's Honour shows, back in the 1860s brawls and betting were regular features out on the greens.

"People really championed their heroes," he says, and indeed the film shows crowds of up to 7000 trailing players closely around the course. "Very often they would be betting their entire week's wages so they were ... very interested in the outcome of the game."

Golf back then was a different beast and the historical drama captures it as transitions into the modern game we know and the dawn of the professional era. Back then there were no ropes to keep sledging spectators back, no tee-off points, and wild inconsistencies around how many holes a course needed. Heck, there weren't even golf bags: caddies lugged an armful of loose clubs around the course.

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All these things we take for granted today were largely the invention of the game's first true stars, "Old" Tom Morris and his prodigy son "Young" Tommy Morris. And it's their complex relationship that drives the film. Much more so, in fact, than the game itself.

"I wanted the film to be accessible to everyone, but also to people who don't play golf or don't even like golf," Connery explains. "For some reason it's a very polarising game.

"The outcomes of the game aren't the driving force in this story. It's the characters and what they're going though. The to-ing and fro-ing. Old Tom's fear of Young Tommy pushing too hard and understanding the upper class and lower class and his position in society. And Young Tommy constantly asking 'why?' and pushing the boundaries. I think it's a universal theme."

As both a father and a son myself I could recognise and relate to both points of view.

"My son is 20 now. It's a very difficult thing to guide your son," Connery says. "I have much more - well, I had respect for my father before - but I have much more respect for the idea of trying to counsel a son who thinks he knows everything. Without being bullish and without stripping them of their... not dignity, but certainly of the fact that they're trying."

 Director Jason Connery on set filming Tommy's Honour
Director Jason Connery on set filming Tommy's Honour

For Connery there was an added resonance to the story. He is a keen golfer who came to the game, "ironically, through my dad. He is a huge golfer. He loves to play."

If the name hasn't already tipped you off, then yes, his father is the incomparable actor and original James Bond, Sean Connery.

"When I was growing up I caddied for him for a while, then I wanted to start to play. My dad married my stepmother, she had a son, Stefan, who is ostensibly my brother, and we all started to play together. My stepmother played. That's how they met, They both won a tournament in Morroco or Tunisia. One of the two.

"So we would all play together. Every year there was a pro-celebrity golf tournament that my dad played in and the family was invited and we would all go together."

"I have amazing, probably over-romanticised memories of it," he confesses before laughing, "because I remember it always being sunny and I'm pretty sure it wasn't always sunny in Scotland."

LOWDOWN
Who: Director Jason Connery
What: Historical drama Tommy's Honour
When: In cinemas today

SEP 28: KINGSMAN: GOLDEN CIRCLE

DID YOU KNOW...

When filming the original Kingsman: The Secret Service film a technical error saw the set flooded with water, leaving cast and crew struggling to escape the deluge. The scene was included in the final cut, with director Matthew Vaughn saying: "Those actors weren't acting, they were absolutely terrified."


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