Great Golf Documentaries, Highlight Reels, and History DVDs

In the mood for some golf history? Documentaries about golf are surprisingly thin on the DVD market, but there are a few good ones out there. Our list is made up of DVDs that cover careers or only a single tournament, the long history of an event or the longer history of golf itself. These are top picks for highlight reels and golf history DVDs, with a couple golf docs of note included, too. If you're a golf history lover - or shopping for someone who is - read on.

This DVD is part of the Golf Channel's "Legends Series." It's two hours long and follows Arnold Palmer from his childhood in Pennsylvania to becoming golf's biggest star to a post-playing career in which Palmer continued to exert considerable influence. Lots of great highlights and interviews.

Jim McKay and Jim Nantz share narration on this celebration of Jack Nicklaus' 18 professional major championships. Plenty of insights from the Golden Bear himself, along with family members plus contemporaries such as Arnold Palmer. And of course, it culminates in Nicklaus' stirring win at the 1986 Masters.

The story of Jack Nicklaus' final major championship win, this DVD was released in 2011. It clocks in at two hours and includes interviews with Nicklaus, with Jack Nicklaus II (his caddie), with the announcers and many of the other players who were there at the 1986 Masters. If you want a shorter version that sticks mostly to the golf highlights, try the Highlights of the 1986 Masters Tournament on Amazon.

A 60-minute highlight reel from NBC Sports of Tiger Woods' epic victory in the 2008 U.S. Open: the huge putts, the playoff win over Rocco Mediate. And the pain. Woods won this title playing with many injuries. And, as of this writing, this is Woods' last win in a major. (If you prefer something from the other end of Tiger's career, check out the Highlights of the 1997 Masters Tournament.)

Ben Hogan vs. Sam Snead. What a matchup. And this episode of the classic TV series Shell's Wonderful World of Golf is now available in DVD format. Snead was still competitive on the PGA Tour at the time of this taping, while Hogan likely would have been had he been playing regularly. This episode follows the pair for an 18-hole match and includes plenty of tips from both players. We've seen it written about this match that some believe Hogan's round against Snead was one of the best of his career.

Originally a VHS release narrated by Jim McKay, The Story of Golf was updated and redone by the Golf Channel as a DVD release with Rich Lerner narrating. A 3-hour set, it covers the origins of the game, its biggest stars and golf's entry into the digital age (the documentary covers a period up through 2010). (The original VHS version, released in 1999, can also be purchased on Amazon.)

This 4-volume set is perhaps more exhaustive than preceding selection, with volumes covering the time periods 1100-1916 (yes, 1100), 1917-1944, 1945-1962 and 1963-1991. Of course, the problem, as you can see, is that this production is now quite a few years old and does not take the viewer up into the Tiger Woods era. Still, for a recap of golf up to 1992, it's quite good. There's another problem, though: It's never been issued in DVD format. The boxed set still consists of VHS tapes.

If you're interested in a DVD on golf history that doesn't require watching multiple volumes, as the two previous selections do, then this History Channel production is for you. In about 1 hour, 40 minutes, it hits the highlights but ends before the 21st century begins. Still, it's the earlier eras of golf that most looking for golf history are interested in, and that's what this DVD briskly covers.

This one might better fit under the heading of "lowlights" for Team Europe fans. It chronicles the comeback of the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1999 ... you know, the one in which the American players went nuts following Justin Leonard's putt (left) on the final day. At the time it was the biggest comeback in Ryder Cup history. European fans might prefer the Ryder Cup 2012 Official Film, where Team Europe tied the American comeback record set in 1999.

This is a quick (about an hour and 10 minutes) gallop through the history of the Ryder Cup, up through the 2004 tournament (this DVD was released in 2005). It takes us back to the founding of the event by one Samuel Ryder and traces the development through the years of American domination and the turning of the tide in favor of Europe.

Baseball's Negro Leagues are well-known; less known is the tour run by and for African-American golfers in the days when the PGA, shamefully, was whites-only. A terrific documentary on an important and overlooked subject. Hosted by Samuel L. Jackson.

The Short Game is a sometimes charming and amusing, sometimes exciting and intense documentary released on DVD in 2014. It follows a group of eight 7-year-olds, golf prodigies who come from around the world to Pinehurst Resort to play for the Kids Golf World Championship.