Golf Goes to the Movies



When a feature length film is made based upon a novel, the resulting escalation in the price of a first edition of the book can be breathtaking. What often was just an ordinary first edition, immediately becomes a valued possession worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Two non-golf examples of this phenomenon are Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It and Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County. Is there a similar effect in the world of golf books? 

Caddyshack is the top grossing golf movie of all time, bringing in $84 million in gross receipts at the box office. Tin Cup ranks second with $69 million in gross receipts and Happy Gilmore ranks third with $50 million. None of these popular movies, however, were based on a book.

The Legend of Bagger Vance was Steve Pressfield’s first novel, published in 1995. The book was made into a movie in 2000, directed by Robert Redford. The movie featured an all star cast of Will Smith, Matt Damon, Jack Lemmon and the lovely Charlize Theron. It offers a nice depiction of an exhibition match between Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. The book was a bigger success than the movie, which cost over $60 million to shoot and only grossed $32 million at the box office. While a large supply of reprint editions are readily available, the original first edition, first printing or an advanced reading copy usually sells for a couple of hundred dollars.  



Dead Solid Perfect, a 1998 movie based on the Dan Jenkins book of the same title, stars Randy Quaid. While we can recommend the 1974 book as a nice read, as one of the most popular golf books of all time, it was printed in very large quantities and is not particularly collectable.    

The Greatest Game Every Played

 This 2005 movie was based on the 2002 book by Mark Frost of the same name. It tells the story of Francis Ouimet’s historic 1913 U.S. Open win. While the book is not collectable, it is a great story.

Goldfinger by Ian Fleming

The closest a golf book collector can come to a blockbuster movie book is one that is not entirely about golf, but has a world-famous golfing scene – Goldfinger. 

Goldfinger was first published in 1959 by Jonathan Cape, London. The cover is black cloth with gilt lettering. The dust jacket contains an image of a skull with a red rose it its teeth and is illustrated below. First editions can be identified if the verso of the title page states “First Published 1959.” There were 24,000 copies of the first edition printed.[i]






Since many reprints were printed with a facsimile dust jacket, you have to verify that a later jacket was not put on a first edition. Given the value of the books, there is a big incentive to do this, so be cautious. A true first edition dust jacket has a price of 15s (15 shillings).[ii]

Goldfinger was reprinted many, many times by several different publishers in both hard and softcover editions. The first American edition was published by MacMillan in 1959. The dust jacket price is $3. This edition is identical to the U.K. first edition with the exception of the Macmillan logo replacing the Cape logo on the spine. Cape printed the U.S. edition for MacMillan and they produced 7,500 copies.[iii]

First editions of Goldfinger with the dust jacket come up for auction several times each year, including at the big auction houses and generally sell for between $1,000 and $1,200 of late. Copies signed by Fleming sell at many multiples of these numbers. Generally, the first American edition sells for between $600 and $800 with the jacket.


[ii] Proof copies of the U.K. edition are bound in a green-yellow wrapper with the Cape logo printed in white. From Ian Fleming’s James Bond by Otto Penzler, 1999.

[iii] Ibid. Penzler.

About valuablebook

Valuable Book Group specializes in rare, collectible and valuable golf books. We are avid collectors ourselves obsessed not only with playing the game, but also its history and the literature of the game.

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