‘Utopia’ author, screenwriter aims for sweet spot between life and golf
BY DENNIS KING
NEW YORK – As with many serious golfers, David Cook’s approach to the game is informed by certain spiritual considerations that make the game of hitting a little white ball into a tiny hole on a green take on profound, life-altering dimensions.
Cook, author of the best-selling inspirational novel “Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia,” is a renowned sports psychologist who built a thriving career as a “mental training coach” for NBA teams such as the San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards while also turning his often Zen-like insights into sports performance on the game of golf.
With his book now having been translated to movie screens in “Seven Days in Utopia,” a feature film starring Robert Duvall and Lucas Black, Cook characteristically exudes a down-to-earth yet philosophical sense of wonder at his good fortune during press interviews at the Regency Hotel.
Having coached more than 100 PGA players, along with scores of athletes in professional football, baseball, college sports and Olympics training, Cook comes across as a friendly, smooth-talking Texan who has figured out lots about the mechanics of golf but still marvels at its metaphysical mysteries.
That’s what comes across as he talks about his book and film and how they came to be.
“This is really a life film,” the author and screenwriter said. “There’s always got to be some metaphorical thing you built your story around and here it’s golf.”
But, he said, finding a convergence between golf and the quaint little Texas Hill Country town of Utopia involved an odd, roundabout journey.
“Utopia, Texas, is real. It’s a little town of about 200 people,” Cook said. “My wife’s family has a ranch down there that they’ve owned for about a hundred years. So we go down there all the time.
“We’ve been going down there for about 30 years and there was no golf course within 60 miles of this place, and I’m a golfer,” he continued. “So I figured I’d never play golf when I went down there. And for 30 years I didn’t.
“But I walked into the café there one day, where everything’s fried and smoke just billows out, just like in the book. And as I was paying – and this is how life changes, this is a real story – I look up and there’s this handwritten piece of paper: ‘Utopia Driving Range, next to the cemetery. Come find your game.’ This was the marketing plan for this new driving range,” he recalled.
“I was intrigued and it caught my attention. So I went out there because I like to hit golf balls,” Cook said. “And there’s this beautiful cemetery with big oak trees and a rock wall around it. I mean the tombstones are from, like, 1804. This is a really old, beautiful place.
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