Tin Cup

Tin Cup

Theatrical Release Poster
Directed by Ron Shelton
Produced by Gary Foster
Written by John Norville
Ron Shelton
Music by William Ross
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • August 16, 1996 (1996-08-16) (U.S.)
Running time
135 min.
Language English
Budget $45 million
Box office $75,854,588[1]

Tin Cup is a 1996 romantic comedy film co-written and directed by Ron Shelton,[2] and starring Kevin Costner and Rene Russo with Cheech Marin and Don Johnson in major supporting roles.[1]


Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy (Kevin Costner) is a former golf prodigy who has little ambition. He owns a driving range in West Texas, where he drinks and hangs out with his pal Romeo Posar (Cheech Marin) and their friends. Dr. Molly Griswold (Rene Russo), a clinical psychologist, wants a golf lesson. She asks Roy because he knows her boyfriend David Simms (Don Johnson), a top professional golfer. Roy is immediately attracted to her, but she sees through his charm and resists.

Simms shows up at Roy's trailer ahead of a local benefit tournament. Roy thinks he is being invited to play, but Simms actually wants to hire him as a caddy (since Roy knows the course). During the round, Roy needles Simms about "laying up" instead of having the nerve to take a 230-yard shot over a water hazard. Simms fires back that Roy's problem is playing recklessly instead of playing the percentages. Roy brags that he could make it, and spectators make bets among themselves. Simms warns Roy that he'll fire him if he tries, but Roy does anyway, hitting a brilliant shot onto the green. Simms immediately fires Roy.

To get even, Roy decides to try to qualify for the U.S. Open. He makes a play for Molly, also seeking her professional help. Molly agrees to help Roy rebuild his self-confidence in exchange for the golf lessons. In two qualifying rounds, with Romeo as caddy, Roy's game is excellent but his head needs help. He continues to resist playing safely, smashing most of his clubs in a fit that causes Romeo to quit. He still manages to qualify. He loses his car on a bet with Simms. He persuades Romeo to caddy again, but develops a problem with his swing. On the first day of the tournament in North Carolina he shoots a horrible 83. Meanwhile, Molly sees Simms' unpleasant side when he arrogantly refuses a child an autograph.

Seeing that trying to change Roy is a mistake, Molly encourages him to be himself. At her suggestion, Roy wins another wager with Simms, the leader after the first round. Then with renewed confidence, "Tin Cup", a nobody from nowhere, shocks the golf world with a remarkable second round of 62, making the cut. His third round is also excellent and moves him into contention. But on all three rounds, he refuses to lay up on the par-5 18th hole, hitting the ball into the pond.

On the last day, Roy, Simms, and real-life PGA Tour pro Peter Jacobsen (playing himself) are in a three-way battle to win the Open. Jacobsen finishes with a par on 18, tied for the lead with Roy and one shot ahead of Simms. Simms yet again lays up at the 18th hole, playing it safe, although this takes him out of championship contention. Romeo urges that he do likewise to save par and force a playoff but, urged by Molly to "go for it", he takes his fateful shot. It reaches the green, but then "a little gust from the gods"a sudden contrary windstarts his ball rolling back, downhill into the pond. Reminiscent of his blow-up back in college when he failed to qualify for the Tour, Roy tries repeatedly to hit the same shot, with the same heart-breaking result. In the end Roy risks not only humiliation but also disqualification for running out of balls. But he still goes for the green, and on his 12th shot, his last ball clears the waterand slowly rolls into the hole. After a wild celebration, Roy finally realizes what he has done and feels ashamed, but Molly assures him, "Five years from now nobody will remember who won or lost, but they're gonna remember your 12!"

Back in Texas, Molly tells Roy that because he finished in the top 15, he automatically qualifies for next year's Open. Molly further suggests that Roy go back to the qualifying school and get on the Tour. Molly, who gained several clients at the tournament, prepares for a career of helping players with the mental portion of the game. They kiss passionately as the movie ends.



Janine Turner was reportedly the first choice for the role of Molly Griswold, but she turned it down. Michelle Pfeiffer was also approached before Rene Russo was then cast. Pierce Brosnan and Alec Baldwin were considered for the part of David Simms, before Don Johnson was placed in the film. John Leguizamo was offered the character of Romeo Posar, until Cheech Marin stepped in to do the role.

Kevin Costner trained extensively with Gary McCord to learn how to play golf, as stated in the foreword Costner wrote for McCord's book, Golf For Dummies.[3] McCord, who helped Costner develop a swing and pre-shot routine,[3] is listed in the end credits as a golf consultant and has a cameo appearance in the film.

The film's climactic scenes take place at a fictional U.S. Open tournament set in North Carolina. Some of the film was shot in Kingwood, Texas, and some was shot at Tubac GC in Tubac, Arizona. The movie's 18th hole is actually the 4th hole on Kingwood's Deerwood course; the lake that guards the front of the green on this beautiful and difficult par-5, actually a par 4 in real life, was built for the movie by the film company.

There are (credited) cameo appearances by pro golfers, including Gary McCord, Phil Mickelson, Craig Stadler, Johnny Miller, Lee Janzen, Corey Pavin, Fred Couples, and Billy Mayfairas well as TV golf broadcasters Jim Nantz, Ken Venturi, Gary McCord, Ben Wright, Frank Chirkinian, Lance Barrow, Peter Kostis and Jimmy Roberts all playing themselves.

Many of the golf shots by Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner) were made by Costner himself.[4]

The scene at the end of the movie where Roy McAvoy hits the shot into the water hazard again and again was based on an actual event. Gary McCord (the commentator with the handlebar mustache in the movie) is an actual commentator and pro on the Champions Tour. In a tournament where he had a similar shot to McAvoy's, he needed a birdie to win and went for it. He shot over and over again and finally got it in 16 strokes. In the movie, McAvoy holes out the shot and gets it in 12.[5]

The scene with a Costner golf shot that knocked a pelican off its perch was also a real-life scenario inspired by McCord.[6]


An annual golf tournament located in Charlotte, NC that benefits the American Cancer Society is named the "Tin Cup Tournament." It is the American Cancer Society's largest single-day golf event in the Carolinas. Play is always on the second Monday of August. 2004 REMAX World Long Drive Champion, David Mobley, is an annual celebrity guest. Most recently, the location is at Ballantyne Resort Golf Course.

After carding a quadruple bogey and a double bogey on the 17th and 18th holes of the 2013 Players Championship, "Tin Cup" became a nickname for professional golfer Sergio García.[7]


Tin Cup currently holds a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 48 reviews, indicating a mixed to positive reception.

Box office

The movie debuted at No. 1.[8]


The soundtrack was released through Sony in 1996.

  1. "Little Bit Is Better Than Nada" - The Texas Tornados
  2. "Cool Lookin' Woman" - Jimmie Vaughan
  3. "Crapped Out Again" - Keb' Mo'
  4. "Big Stick" - Bruce Hornsby
  5. "Nobody There But Me" - Bruce Hornsby
  6. "Let Me into Your Heart" - Mary-Chapin Carpenter
  7. "I Wonder" - Chris Isaak
  8. "This Could Take All Night" - Amanda Marshall
  9. "Back to Salome" - Shawn Colvin
  10. "Just One More" - George Jones
  11. "Where Are You Boy" - Patty Loveless
  12. "Every Minute, Every Hour, Every Day" - James House
  13. "Character Flaw" - Joe Ely
  14. "Double Bogey Blues" - Mickey Jones


  1. 1 2 "Tin Cup". The Numbers.
  2. Maslin, Janet (August 16, 1996). "Tin Cup (1996) When Golf Is Life And Life a Game". The New York Times.
  3. 1 2 Gary McCord & John Huggan, Golf for Dummies. New York: John Wiley & Sons (1999): 21
  4. Auclair, T.J. "Story behind 'Tin Cup' hole". PGA.com. PGA/Turner Sports Interactive. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  5. Williams, Doug. "Listed: The 10 worst holes in PGA history". ESPN.com. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  6. IMDB. Tin Cup Trivia. Amazon/IMDB. (August 21, 2015). retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117918/trivia
  7. "Tiger Woods wins Players Championship by two strokes; Sergio Garcia puts three balls in water over final two holes". New York Post. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  8. Snow, Shauna (1996-08-20). "Morning report". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
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