Tin Cup is the first Ron Shelton production resulting from a collaboration. Shelton and first-time screenwriter John Norville, longtime golfing buddies, wrote the script with Kevin Costner in mind. His character was conceived as a mix of skill and potent demons, equally full of blather and heroic aspiration. Production began in Tucson in mid-September and continued in Houston until mid-December. Because the movie was set in the summer, the film's wardrobe was sometimes incongruent with the climate on location. Recalls leading lady Rene Russo, "There were nights in October when we were filming in the high desert, and the temperature was in the 30s. I was dressed in a miniskirt and short-sleeved blouse, having to pretend it was balmy. Now that's acting." Explained co-producer David Lester, "Weather is always a concern -- especially when you're doing a movie with thousands of extras in an outdoor setting. But we did our homework and prepared as best we could. Of particular concern was our U.S. Open, which covered four days in the story and which was to be shot over a period of three weeks during November. Options for useable golf courses at that time of year were limited to the southern portion of the U.S. Before deciding on Houston, we did a 30-year review of their fall weather patterns and found they had an average of only eight rain days in November. We built in an adequate number of cover days to our schedule for insurance, then we crossed our fingers. We were very fortunate."

Production design was a crucial element in the storytelling. With the assistance of the U.S.G.A. (United States Golfing Association), the filmmakers were able to replicate U.S. Open designs and conditions in Houston. "Fairways had to be made more narrow, tee boxes moved back," explains co-producer Gary Foster. "They want it to be the toughest test of golf in the world, and we had to adapt our course to those conditions." Roy's driving range was constructed from a barren cow pasture on the road to Sonoita, Ariz., close to the Mexican border. The result was so convincing to passers-by that some attempted to stop in and swat a bucket of balls. One local newspaper reporter was convinced the place was real and had simply been fixed up. He went away unconvinced when informed there had never been a place to fix up. Verisimilitude is key in a film which depicts an arena that television brings into living rooms on a regular basis, so the production made use of real pro caddies, driving range coaches and other recognizable people from the sports and golf world, including ESPN reporter Jimmy Roberts and sports show host George Michael -- and even included a shot of the Fuji blimp. "We needed to put Kevin Costner in the same frame with real golfers in real golf situations," says Shelton. "We brought in the real CBS crew that covers golf -- guys like Jim Nantz, Ken Venturi, Ben Wright, Gary McCord, Peter Kostis and legendary sports producer/director Frank Chirkinian." Of course, a few pro golfers were also cast to play themselves. Included were four former U.S. Open winners, along with an all-star line-up of current top money winners, among them Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Jerry Pate, Phil Mickelson, Billy Mayfair, Lee Janzen, John Cook, Tom Purtzer, Bruce Lietzke and Steve Elkington. "What they did for the movie was legitimize our tournament," says Foster. "We had 25 of the top golf pros in the world participating in our U.S. Open. That kind of authenticity helps an audience believe what they're seeing." And just in case Costner's golf swing was not looking up to par alongside so many of the sport's elite, the filmmakers assigned Gary McCord and Peter Kostis (who play themselves in the film) to work with Costner and, to a lesser degree, Don Johnson (a regular on the celebrity golf circuit and already an eight handicapper).

Other notes from the production:
  • When filming at the Tubac Golf Resort in the Arizona desert, the script called for a water hazard. Since there was none on the course, the filmmakers built one and named it "Tin Cup Lake."

  • The filmmakers also brought in David Eger, who had set up U.S. Open courses over the past few years, to work with production designer James Bissell.

  • Pro golfers Peter Jacobsen and Craig Stadler actually made their acting debuts with speaking roles.

  • Director Ron Shelton had thought he would have to use a double for most of Kevin Costner's swings, but the athletic actor proved to be a quick learner and did all his own golfing in the movie.

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