Kevin Costner plays the role of Tin Cup in the current Warner Bros. movie by that name. Preisler, a member of two national championship golf teams at Sam Houston State University and a 1981 graduate, appears briefly as Costner's playing partner.
In real life Preisler is the head golf professional at the Kingwood Country Club near Humble. Costner and a film crew spent 45 days there putting together the story of Tin Cup's quest for the U.S. Open title, and more importantly the heart of Dr. Molly Griswold, played by Rene Russo.
Costner plays a driving range pro and golf hustler from West Texas whose legendary ball-striking skills are matched only by his self-destructive nature and lowlife charm.
Preisler's summary of the plot is that Costner is happily wasting his life when Russo, a psychologist, "comes to him for a golf lesson at this podunk golf range."
"In trying to win her over," Preisler said, "he decides the only way is to try to win the U.S. Open."
Dr. Griswold, by the way, also happens to already be the girlfriend of the suave PGA professional and Tin Cup's longtime rival, David Simms, played by Don Johnson. Tin Cup's caddie, Romeo Posar, is played by Cheech Marin.
Tin Cup got his movie nickname in connection with a personal protection device commonly used by baseball players. Preisler got his new "Hollywood" moniker by being at the right golf course at the right time.
Warner Bros. selected the Kingwood course because the outdoor scenes had to be shot last November, and their weather analysts told them that a 30-year study indicated an average of only eight rain days there in that month.
Ex-Bearkat golfer Jim Phenicie, 1985 graduate and head instructor at the Golf Advantage School at Kingwood, also makes a brief appearance in the movie, but his spot is not nearly as prominent as Preisler's BIG brief appearance.
"Jim's the one with the visor," said Preisler.
Preisler is Tin Cup's no-name playing partner for the first two rounds of the Open, although his name does actually show up on the scoreboard. He's in several scenes, and congratulates Costner after the round.
Preisler said that writer/producer/director Ron Shelton, ("Bull Durham," "Blaze," "White Men Can't Jump," and "Cobb"), gave him "a lot of air time," including one shot of his "great Bearkat swing." Shelton was less kind with Preisler's lines. Or rather, line.
His one verbal contribution -- "Good shot!" -- ended up on the cutting room floor.
Preisler has no illusions about future stardom either as a U.S. Open competitor or on the big screen. His Kingwood and Deerwood friends kidded him that playing in a movie version of the U.S. Open would "probably be the closest you'll ever get."
While most golf fans will not know Preisler, they will recognize pros Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Lee Janzen, Billy Mayfair, Peter Jacobsen, Jerry Pate, Craig Stadler, Phil Mickelson, and Steve Elkington.
The CBS golf crew -- Jim Nantz, Ken Venturi, Ben Wright, Gary McCord and Peter Kostis describe the action.
McCord and Kostis worked behind the scenes as Costner's swing coaches. Preisler said that Costner makes a believable pro.
"He's a very good athlete," he said. "He played a lot of sports in college and high school -- basketball, baseball -- and now he plays golf. For the amount of time he's been able to spend on the game, he does very well."
Preisler said Costner was fun to work with and "real professional."
"He's a very caring person," he said. "If he ever hit a ball into the crowd by accident, he would make sure everyone was OK."
Preisler said that if you like golf, "even a little bit," or attractive men like Costner and Johnson, or attractive women like Russo, or cute plots like the one in "Tin Cup," "you gotta see it. It's hilarious."
August 26, 1996