A genius bursting with flair and passion
Our season of Golf Stories continues with Spanish golf legend Severiano Ballesteros. In fact, it’s a story about a film. A tale of passion and obsession which began in a tiny fishing village in the north of Spain where Seve Ballesteros was born in 1957. ‘Seve: The Movie’ is a “must watch” for every golfer. ‘Golfing Inspirations’ was proud to walk the red carpet at the Dutch première of the film in Rotterdam and share Seve’s glory years with several hundred other golf fans.
It was the perfect setting. Seve would have been delighted. For one night only on Thursday, 9th June, the Seve Golf Centre in Rotterdam was transformed into an open-air cinema for the Dutch première of ‘Seve: The Movie’, complete with red carpet and flashing cameras. Several hours before the film was due to be screened on the driving range, guests were enjoying Spanish tapas and chilled wine and bubbly in the early evening sunshine. Although originally released in 2014, everyone was very curious about the ‘docu-drama’ over the Spanish golf legend Severiano Ballesteros. The opportunity to now view the film with Dutch sub-titles was not to be missed.
One of the world’s most charismatic golfers
As darkness fell shortly after ten o’clock and guests were seated and settled in the bays with a bag of popcorn, an uncanny silence fell. This was destined to be an inspiring evening. A tale of rags to riches. We were about to experience the amazing life story of how a poor farmer boy from Pedreña, a fishing village on the Bay of Biscay in northern Spain, became one of the world’s most charismatic golfers in the history of the game.
Severiano Ballesteros was born on the 9th April 1957. He was the fifth son of a dairy farmer. The docu-drama sets the scene beautifully with Spanish actors, including a young boy playing Seve aged ten, swinging the club with the same unrestricted passion as the great man himself. Life on the farm is intertwined with archive footage of some of Seve’s greatest victories over the years together with the original golf commentary of Peter Alliss and Johnny Miller, amongst others.
Seve as caddy: “It’s boring to carry the bag for a bad golfer!”
Seve’s first club was a 3-iron which was given to him by his brothers who used to caddie at the golf course next to their home. In fact, it was just an old club head to which he added his own wooden stick as a shaft, but it was good enough for him to practise with as a young lad on the sandy beach near their farm or in the fields between the cows. He would regularly skive off school to practise for hours on end shaping every conceivable golf shot with his beloved self-made club. At the age of ten, his world would change forever when he was given the chance to play in the caddies championship at the Royal Padreña Golf Club. Not that he was an enthusiastic caddy. He would often say to his brothers: “It’s boring to carry the bag for a bad golfer!” As caddies were not allowed to play on the course, he would climb over the wall and secretly practise at night. The rules were strict: it was only the winner of the annual caddies championship that could earn playing rights at the club. But we’ll let the cinema screen tell the rest of the caddy story!
In no time at all, you get a great feeling in the film of the immense drive and dedication that Ballesteros had for the game. What a joy to relive his triumphs and see the electrifying atmosphere around him at The Open – the crowds simply swamping him with adoration. All the skill and audacity of Seve’s mind-blowing shots beautifully captured in a 119-minute long feature film. The natural flair of players in those days was awesome. The greats such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, they all had their own style and charisma. It was perhaps Nick Faldo who started the ‘mechanical swing’ trend which has in turn led to players travelling the globe with teams of swing coaches, mental coaches and physio trainers these days.
The Spanish maestro and the Masters
‘Seve: The Movie’ captures so much of the magic of Ballesteros including some quirky details such as the time in America when the unknown Spaniard found himself introduced at a function as “Ballerina Sevasteros”! The year was 1980. A week later he became the youngest winner of the US Masters, slipping on his first green jacket at the tender age of just turned 23 having scored a record-breaking 23 birdies at Augusta. It was the first time a European had won the Masters. As Seve says in the film: “They never did say my name wrong again!”
It’s a shame then that publicists in Holland didn’t pay more attention to the spelling of his name for the film première. ‘Seve Ballasteros’ greeted everyone on the posters last week! Ironic to realise that Seve won his first professional tournament here as a 19-year old in 1976 at the Kennemer G&CC. The Dutch Open was one of his record number of 50 victories on the European Tour. He went on to win an amazing 91 times in his career including five Major titles but, interestingly, never won the US Open nor the US PGA Championship.
“You just play your game, I’ll play the rest!”
Seve touched our hearts and conquered the world with his good looks, charismatic personality and passion for golf. His presence changed the Ryder Cup forever. “You just play your game, I’ll play the rest”, was his advice to Ryder Cup debutant and fellow countryman José Maria Olazàbal. It was to be the start of a formidable Ryder Cup pairing and close friendship. When he had to stop playing golf in 2007 due to serious back problems, Seve declared: “It’s like taking a piece of my heart away”.
Sadly he did not win his battle for life. After a three year stride, he died of a brain tumour in Pedreña on the 7th May 2011, aged 54. But his memory lives on and this film is a wonderful tribute to all that he achieved. It’s a real stroll down memory lane and promises to tug at the old heart strings as it portrays Seve Ballesteros’ life-long passion and obsession for this addictive game. Who knows, perhaps his story will inspire you to play with more flair and creativity in the future too.
PICTURED: (main) Seve Ballesteros with the Ryder Cup trophy (l) and celebrating his victory at The Open (r). (below) The red carpet entrance for the première of ‘Seve: The Movie’ in Rotterdam was a nice touch, just a shame the publicists spelt the Spanish legend’s name wrong in the poster!
© Photography by Golfing Inspirations/Archive photos SB.