Sometimes Prince Charming is Wearing a Beer-Stained Undershirt

tin_cup[1] (2) I love sports romances. Love, love, love them. The thrill of the game, the athletic prowess, the conflict, the romance, and the sex all make for a heady combination. Some of my all-time favorites include See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson, It Had to be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, The Man for Me by Gemma Bruce, and Body Check by Deirdre Martin.

If you’ve been reading Sports Romances for long enough, you’ve probably noticed that most fall into the same pattern: a hunky, wealthy pro-athlete is forced to contend with a determined woman. Conflict and true love ensues. I love this pattern, I really do, but sometimes I crave something a little different – something that isn’t usually found on the shelves of Romance.

One of my favorite sports romances that fits this bill comes in movie form. Tin Cup, starring Kevin Costner and Renee Russo, is the story of a washed-up driving range pro who meets the woman of his dreams and is determined to win her heart.

So what makes Tin Cup different? Well, there’s the hero, Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy. I’m not going to sugarcoat things: Roy is a loser. He’s arrogant and obnoxious. He spends all day in beer-stained undershirts hitting golf balls and making stupid bets with his group of loser friends. He’s the proud owner of a run-down Winnebago and a barely-solvent driving range in Nowhere, West Texas – at least until he loses said driving range in a bet on a dog race with his stripper ex-girlfriend. As one of his buddies says, “The word ‘normal’ and him don’t often collide in the same sentence.” Suffice it say, Roy ain’t exactly typical Romance Hero material.

But then one day a new client shows up for golf lessons, and everything changes for Roy. Dr. Molly Griswold is nothing like the women Roy usually meets – she’s classy and smart and Roy falls instantly in love:

“From the moment I first saw you I knew I was through with bar girls, and strippers, and motorcycle chicks. When you first started talking I was smitten with you, and I’m smitten with you more every day I think about you. The fact that you know I’m full of crappola only makes you even more attractive to me.”

There are just two problems facing Roy. First, Molly is dating Roy’s archrival – a pro golfer he knows from college – and second, how does a loser like Roy go about winning a woman like Molly? After his initial attempts at wooing her don’t work, Roy decides to impress her – and kick her boyfriend’s ass – by winning the U.S. Open. The only problem is that Roy is notorious for thinking with his balls instead of his brains, and he has a serious lack of self-control when it comes to golf. Arnold Palmer he isn’t.

Getting to root for the underdog – in spite of his occasional obnoxiousness – is a big reason I love this movie. The other big reason is that the romance really works for me. I love Hero in Pursuit and Opposites Attract romances, and this fits the bill for both. The more you get to know Roy and Molly, the more you realize how well they complement each other. Roy is, to some extent, able to learn discipline and self-control, and Molly isn’t as uptight as she first seems – in fact, she’s just a little nutty.

Roy and Molly’s HEA is cemented for me in one particular scene near the end. It’s the night of Day Two of the U.S. Open, and Roy and Molly are stuffed together in the Winnebago along with several of Roy’s buddies from West Texas. While everyone else sleeps, Roy whispers to Molly, “It won’t always be like this, you know. With me surrounded by all these guys snoring, my stripper ex-girlfriend lying across from us, my caddy sleeping next to her. It won’t always be like this.” Molly smiles knowingly and whispers back, “Yes it will, Roy. It will.”

For me, Tin Cup is a winning combination of sports, romance, and quirky characters, and it satisfies that craving for something a little different, while still giving me the sports romance I know and love.

Are you a fan of sports romances? Do you find that most of them fall into a standard pattern or not? Do you ever crave something that shakes those old Romance clichés up a bit? And of course, have you ever seen Tin Cup, and what did you think of it?

–Katie Mack

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24 Responses to “Sometimes Prince Charming is Wearing a Beer-Stained Undershirt”

  1. I’ve got this movie still wrapped in celophane on my tv shelf. I picked it up cheap, because I love Rene Russo (have since Thomas Crowne Affair), and it’s a romance.

    Guess I’m going to have to crack the celophane now, huh? I’ve just never been that big a Costner fan, so that’s why I’ve dragged my heels.

  2. LeeB. says:

    I have seen Tin Cup and while it is quite enjoyable, two of Kevin Costner’s baseball movies are more fun to watch, probably because I love baseball and think golf is boring. Bull Durham is funny and raunchy. And Field of Dreams is sweet, memorable and a tearjerker.

    I’ve read all of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ football books and Deidre Martin’s hockey books but really enjoyed Rachel Gibson’s See Jane Score. That is definitely my favorite sports romance book.

  3. Katie Mack says:

    I haven’t seen Bull Durham or Field of Dreams — I’ll have to add those to my list.

  4. Ellen AAR says:

    I didn’t like Bull Durham at all – maybe because it got such great reviews it couldn’t live up to them. I loved, loved, loved Field of Dreams though, and I did like Tin Cup very much. I’ve never been a fan of Kevin Costner, but I do like him in sports movies. As for the books, I think Deidre Martin’s hockey books and SEP’s Chicago Stars books are the best sports romances out there.

  5. library addict says:

    I love Tin Cup. It’s one of the few movies I bought on DVD even though I already it on VHS.

    The chemistry between Costner and Russo is great, plus I liked the way his golf match ended (won’t say more for those who have yet to watch it).

    Of his many, many baseball movies (there’s also the one he made with Kelly Preston, but I am blanking on the title), my favorite is The Upside of Anger with him and Joan Allen. He plays a drunk, washed up baseball player in that one, who now works on talk radio, but there’s no actual baseball in it :P

  6. KristieJ says:

    I LOVE sports romance novels and I LOVED this movie too as well as Field of Dreams (which makes me cry every time I watch it) Another excellent sports romance movie with Kevin Costner that hasn’t been mentioned is For the Love of the Game. Kevin plays a pitcher with a bad arm at the end of his career. He’s pitching his last game and as the game goes along, it flashbacks to his relationship with his lady love played by Kelly Preston. It’s a wonderful movie with a very satisfying HEA.
    And a hand up here – I ENJOYED Waterworld.

  7. Katie Mack says:

    @KristieJ – I enjoyed Waterworld too, and I’m not ashamed to admit it! Well, not too ashamed ;)

    Most of these movies being mentioned I’ve never seen, but they sound great — I really am a huge sucker for sports romances — so I’m going to have to check them all out.

  8. Magnolia88 says:

    I like Tin Cup a lot, and Costner is super appealing (those were the days) . . .

    but I don’t think it can hold a candle to Bull Durham. I just love every scene between Sarandon and Costner so much and it’s much sexier and funnier than TC. And Tim Robbins is really cute as the young and dumb “other man.”

  9. Julie says:

    I’ve always thought that Costner’s best movies were his sports movies. I love Field of Dreams (I cry EVERY SINGLE TIME), I love Bull Durham (funny as can be), I even like For the Love of the Game. And I also like Tin Cup — I even love the soundtrack. It’s loaded onto my iPod.

  10. Bethany says:

    Costner plays a retired baseball player turned radio DJ in my favorite movie of his–The Upside of Anger. I haven’t ever seen Tin Cup, but in The Upside of Anger, he sounds rather similar.

    He befriends a neighbor woman, whose life is falling apart. She thinks her husband has left her and she also has to deal with her four rapidly-growing up daughters. The movie is sharp and caustic and yet, you believe totally in the romance and in the power of family by the end. Yet the whole time you’re thinking, “wow, at the beginning of this movie I never would have seen that coming from Kevin Costner’s character.” Great character development.

  11. Michelle says:

    I haven’t watched Tin Cup yet. I quite like K. Costner. I loved his movie Robinhood, I enjoyed Waterworld. So I’m sure gonna add this movie to my list.

  12. Ryan Green says:

    i snore so much that i can wake up the whole neighborhood by just snoring,;,

  13. Bench Saw  says:

    i don’t like people who are snoring a lot, they can really ruin a good sleep*`.

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