Actor Lucas Black Helps Fight The Decline Of Golf
Courtesy Of AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
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The Saturday shopping crowd at Sam’s Club is awash in a sea of Midwestern normalcy. Almost everywhere you look, there are men in Levis, white T-shirts, ball caps and sunglasses. You wouldn’t guess there’s a celebrity afoot on the store’s Conley Road parking lot.
You wouldn’t guess he’s about to leave town to film a movie with Harrison Ford.
You wouldn’t guess he’s onto the politics of Academy Award nominations and would prefer a Screen Actors Guild Award to an Oscar, if he could choose.
And while his Callaway golf hat hints at his hobby, you wouldn’t guess this 29-year-old won $40,000 in a celebrity golf tournament last February.
This is the life of Lucas Black, one of Columbia’s most famous residents that you never knew was here. He’s neither tabloid fodder nor magazine cover boy, but Black has starred in everything from “Friday Night Lights” to “Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.” He’s also a scratch golfer who can often be seen on the practice green at The Club At Old Hawthorne, the driving range at A.L. Gustin Golf Course or the leaderboard of a city tournament.
The story is cool enough if you stop there: a movie star lives in Columbia and frequents the local golf courses. But it gets better: Black has become one of the biggest supporters of youth golf in Columbia, giving both his time and money — and that’s a good thing because some say the future of golf is in jeopardy. The sport is attracting fewer youth players, leading to questions about golf’s future. Here in CoMo, Black is doing what he can to reverse golf’s downward trend.
Black Finds Golf
Born in 1982 in Speake, Ala., Black was 10 years old when his mother took him to an audition for a film called “The War.” Casting agents were looking for Southerners in the 12-to-15-year-old range, but Black’s mom wanted to meet lead actor Kevin Costner, so they showed up at the audition anyway.
The youngster landed the part, thanks to his strong Alabama drawl and spunky personality. His work in “The War” led to a role in the single-season TV run of horror-thriller “American Gothic.” Soon after, Black’s accent helped him land other roles with a Southern ambience, including that of Frank Wheatley, the young boy opposite Billy Bob Thornton in the 1996 film “Sling Blade.”
As Black grew older, he dabbled in movie and television roles while attending school in Speake and playing on his high school’s football and baseball teams. One day he decided to fill time in lieu of a canceled baseball practice, and tried golf at the invitation of a friend.
“For my first shot, I topped it, it bounced twice, it went in the water,” he says. “I was hooked. I fell in love with it.”
Black says golf captivated him then for the same reason he loves the sport today: the challenge. “We all try to reach perfection in golf, but you really can’t ever achieve it,” he says. “It’s just the pursuit of getting better each and every day, and that process is fun to me.”
Black continued to play golf, even as his movie career took off. He acted alongside Matt Damon in “All The Pretty Horses,” Melanie Griffith in “Crazy In Alabama” and Jude Law in “Cold Mountain.” He turned down a role in Robert Redford’s “The Horse Whisperer” when asked to alter his accent.
In 2003, Black was cast as an autistic pianist in the indie flick “Killer Diller.” The movie was filmed in Fayette and the cast stayed in nearby Columbia. That summer, Black became a Columbia resident the same way many people do: he met a girl from Mizzou.