The Short Game

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The Short Game
The Short Game promotional poster.jpg
Directed by Josh Greenbaum
Produced by Josh Greenbaum
Christopher Leggett
Rafael Marmor
Narrated by Edd Hall
Distributed by Netflix
Release date
  • September 20, 2013 (2013-09-20)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $39,819

The Short Game is a 2013 documentary film about 7- and 8-year-old golfers. Produced by Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel[1] and directed by Josh Greenbaum, it presents eight entrants in the 2012 U.S. Kids Golf World Championship.[2] The film premiered in 10 cities on September 20, 2013.[3]


Beginning 6 months before the 2012 World Championships, the movie visits each of the eight subjects at their homes, some of which are as far away as Paris, Manila, Johannesburg and Shenzhen, China to meet the kids and their parents. Once the subjects are introduced we observe the various trials and tribulations of the competition.[4] The subjects of the movie are evenly split between children from the United States and other countries with five boys and three girls, including Allan Kournikova (half-brother of Anna), Sky Sudberry, and Augustin Valery (great-grandson of French poet Paul Valery).[5] Kournikova went on to win the boys division of this event for his age group.[6]

The film also includes interviews with golfing legends Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Annika Sorenstam.


Name Age Gender Hometown Nationality Result
Amari Avery 8 Female Riverside, California  United States 1st
Jed Dy 8 Male Manila, Philippines  Philippines 9th
Allan Kournikova 7 Male West Palm Beach, Florida  United States 1st
Zamokuhle "Zama" Nxasana 8 Male Johannesburg, South Africa  South Africa 18th
Alexa Pano 7 Female Lake Worth, Florida  United States 1st
Sky Sudberry 8 Female Tiki Island, Texas  United States 8th
Augustin Valery 8 Male Paris, France  France 40th
Yang Kuang 7 Male Shenzhen, China  China 14th
  • Amari Avery, 8, of Riverside, California, wants to be like Tiger Woods. She was also featured in the 2013 documentary Trophy Kids. She is a strong golfer, but her father is overbearing and she struggles with allowing her emotions to get the best of her when she does poorly. She comes in first in her category.[7]
  • Jed Dy, 8, of Manila, Philippines, is autistic and does not enjoy the attention he receives for his golfing. After a mix-up in which he loses points because his family did not understand how long the tournament would be delayed for weather, he comes in ninth in his category.[8]
  • Allan Kournikova, 7, of West Palm Beach, Florida, is the younger brother of Anna Kournikova and considered the best male golfer in his age group. He lives in Florida with his mother and is good friends with Alexa. He is very opinionated and occasionally comes off as arrogant, such as when a trainer must reprimand him for showing excitement at his opponent doing poorly. He comes in first in his category.[9]
  • Zamokuhle "Zama" Nxasana, 8, of Johannesburg, South Africa, is at Pinehurst for the second time. In 2011 he came in 43rd. He is the most exuberant of the cast—while the other children seem most focused on winning first place, he is pleased to come in 18th in his category[10] and win the most improved award. His father is concerned with teaching him the history of South Africa.
  • Alexa Pano, 7, of Lake Worth, Florida, is considered the best female golfer in her age group. She is good friends with Allan. She comes in first in her category.[11]
  • Sky Sudberry, 8, of The Woodlands, Texas, explains golf terms to the audience. Like Augustin, she is small and needs to build more muscle. She comes in 8th in her category.[12]
  • Augustin Valery, 8, of Paris, France, is the great-grandson of the poet Paul Valery. He is very intellectual but is concerned with building up his physique. He is slight enough that Zama, who befriends him, thinks that he is a girl. He comes in 40th in his category.[13]
  • Yang Kuang, 7, of Shenzhen, China, taught himself golf from an instructional video he picked up at the store. He comes in 14th in his category.[14]


The majority of the film was shot during the tournament, with 18 different camera crews using Canon EOS C300 cameras with Canon 70–200mm f/2.8 and Canon 25-75 f/2.8 lenses. Each child was followed by two crews, one ahead and one behind.[15]

Critical commentary[edit]

Based on 18 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, it had an average 6.2 rating out of 10 and an 83% approval rating.[16] At Metacritic, its metascore based on 10 reviews was 51.[17] The film won the Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival in March 2013.[18]

Los Angeles Times critic Annlee Ellingson describes the movie as a "warts-and-all" depiction of youth golfers that is similar to the 2002 documentary film Spellbound about the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee.[4] Nicolas Rapold of The New York Times also notes that the movie was probably modeled after Spellbound and raved about the movie's uninhibited cuteness. Rapold compared the introductions to reality shows, but notes that some of the subjects such as Kournikova and his mother are more fleshed out than others.[19] Golf Digest critic John Strege said that "The toxic mix of youth sports and overzealous parents threatened to hijack" the film but the subjects themselves were so entertaining that the movie was not a loss.[3] Boston Globe critic Michael Whitmer says the results of Greenbaum's feature film debut was compelling although tinged with discomfort.[5] USA Today critic Scott Bowles described the film as upbeat and noted that "...for astute viewers and golf fans, Short hits the green consistently and is, at times, a hole-in-one."[20]


  1. ^ Haglage, Abby (December 12, 2013). "Meet the Pint-Sized Pro Golfers of Netflix's 'The Short Game'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 8, 2015. 
  2. ^ Rapold, Nicolas (September 19, 2013). "A Mean Swing, Between the Cuddles and Flatulence Jokes: 'The Short Game,' a Documentary About Young Golfers". The New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Strege, John (September 11, 2013). "'The Short Game': Movie documents kids' world championships". Golf Digest. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Ellingson, Annlee (September 19, 2013). "Review: 'Short Game' tees off with tiny golfers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Whitmer, Michael (September 19, 2013). "'The Short Game': Where youthful drama is par for the course". Boston Globe. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  6. ^ Winkler, Rolfe (August 6, 2012). "Eagle Scout Kournikova". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
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  15. ^ Murie, Michael (October 25, 2013). "Shooting with 18 Cameras: The Making of The Short Game". Filmmaker. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 
  16. ^ "The Short Game (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  17. ^ "The Short Game". Metacritic. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  18. ^ Holmes, John (2013). "Anna Kournikova's Little Brother is a Blossoming Golf Champion". Professional Golfers Association. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  19. ^ Rapold, Nicolas (September 19, 2013). "A Mean Swing, Between the Cuddles and Flatulence Jokes: 'The Short Game,' a Documentary About Young Golfers". The New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  20. ^ Bowles, Scott (September 19, 2013). "'Short Game': Story of kids' golf shoots better than par". USA Today. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 

External links[edit]