By: Jessica Goddard
If you were ever particularly curious about the founding and history of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), The Founders is an inviting and well executed documentary.
Packed with precious archival footage and photographs, as well as charming interviews, The Founders takes its audience back in time to the humble beginnings of the LPGA organization. The story goes that after the Women’s Professional Golf Association disbanded in the 1940s, the LPGA was formed by 13 women in the 1950s. Four of the initial 13 remain today, and these women are interviewed and shown participating in the association in clips throughout the film. It plays to the doc’s advantage that these women – who are very articulate despite their age – are quality interviewees and have great memories of their experiences some sixty-plus years ago.
It’s interesting to notice the slight differences and discrepancies in the ways the founders remember details or understood events at the time. Similarly, it’s neat to hear these women talk about one another. Audiences truly get a sense of the bonds that were formed through the association.
The Founders spends just the right amount of time on “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias, a legend of women’s athletics and Olympic gold medalist. Babe is a key part of the film’s story, and her charisma radiates off the screen even half-a-century later, giving this documentary that extra boost of personality.
The writers are careful to make a point about the sexism and racism encountered by the female athletes in the early days of touring, but there is nothing overtly political about this documentary. The Founders is ultimately a film for golf lovers, for athletes, and for those who can appreciate history the film showcases so enthusiastically. It’s also a classic underdog story, and a feel-good film about women inspiring, supporting, competing, and building something together. That said, the subject matter is certainly not for everyone, so if you’re generally not a golf person, I wouldn’t expect this film will change that. Still, there’s something universally appealing about watching highly skilled individuals excel in an activity they’ve been training at their whole lives.
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Jessica Goddard: @TheJGod