"Happy Gilmore" Is a Classic American Story of Fighting the Odds

It's Time to Find Out What Makes "Happy Gilmore" Happy

Bob Barker And Adam Sandler In 'Happy Gilmore'
Archive Photos / Stringer/ Moviepix/ Getty Images

Dennis Dugan’s 1996 comedy, Happy Gilmore is an inspirational story about a failed ice hockey player’s discovery of his aptitude for golf. 

The Story Behind Happy Gilmore
Gilmore wants to be an ice hockey player. He has a cracking slapshot that he learnt from his late father, but Gilmore cannot skate to save his life. He is also too aggressive; both qualities prevent him from making it to a hockey team.

Gilmore’s schoolteacher girlfriend, Terry, tired of his obsession with the sport, dumps him. And that is not the only twist to Gilmore’s tale. His grandmother who brought him up after his father died, is at the brink of losing her house. She has defaulted on taxes for years and owes the IRS 270,000 dollars. Gilmore has three months to gather the money, otherwise the house that his late grandfather built with his own hands, will be sold off.  Gilmore’s grandma moves into an old age home run by a heartless manager. 

While taking possession of his grandmother’s furniture, a couple of movers challenge Gilmore to hit golf balls. Armed with his unique slapshot, Gilmore wins 40 dollars, and discovers his knack for golf. Gilmore decides to hit the driving range and make money by fooling golfers. The rest of the film is about how Gilmore becomes a golf star and saves his grandmother’s house.

If you have watched the movie, you will enjoy this collection of Happy Gilmore quotes.

Reminisce the best scenes of the movie, and discover the real talent that is Adam Sandler. 

Shooter McGavin
McGavin, played by Christopher McDonald, is a conceited and pompous golf star who instantly takes a dislike to Gilmore during the Pro Golf Tour. To unsettle Gilmore, McGavin hires a mentally unsound fan to heckle Gilmore during the Pepsi Pro-Am tournament.


  • "Damn you people. Go back to your shanties."
  • "Thank you, Doug. You know, I saw Doug playing yesterday. And I've got to tell you, this guy spends more time on the sand than David Hasselhoff."

Behind every sporting star is a great coach. In this movie, it is Chubbs played by Carl Weathers. Chubbs, a former golf star and club professional, notices Gilmore’s golf talent. His own golfing career had come to an abrupt end when an alligator bit off his right hand. Chubbs persuades Gilmore to participate in a local golf tournament. Though Chubbs wants to coach Gilmore for six months to perfect his golfing skills, Gilmore rejects his suggestion as he has only three months to make enough money to save his grandmother’s house.

  • "Back in 1965, Sports Illustrated said I was going to be the next Arnold Palmer."
  • "Golf requires concentration and focus. Golf's no different from hockey. It requires talent and self discipline."
  • "Hell no! Damned alligator bit my hand off!"

Virginia Venit, played by Julie Bowen, is the PR head of the Pro Golf Tour. She is an astute businesswoman and a sensitive person. To save Gilmore from expulsion, Virginia convinces the Commissioner Doug Thompson that Gilmore’s presence would increase television ratings, and ensure better crowd attendance and sponsors.

Virginia becomes Gilmore's support, who then conquers his anger and gets better in his game. She provides Gilmore the necessary emotional strength that he needs to outperform McGavin. 

  • "Oh, I hope he wins. He's a publicist's dream. I mean a guy who could drive the ball that far -- oh, he could really draw a crowd."

Donald is the mean guy whose job is to heckle Happy Gilmore on the field. He wants Happy Gilmore to lose his focus, ruin his game, and get him kicked off the tournament for misbehavior.

  • "You're gonna need a blanket and suntan lotion, cause you're never gonna get off that beach, just like the way you never got into the NHL... you jackass!"

Here are some conversations that make this movie a delightful watch.

Grandma: Sir, can I trouble you for a warm glass of milk? It helps me go to sleep. 
Nursing Home Orderly: You can trouble me for a warm glass of shut-the-hell-up. Now, you will go to sleep or I will put you to sleep. Check out the name tag. You're in my world now, grandma.

Announcer: We haven't seen Happy Gilmore play this badly since his first day on tour. He and Bob Barker are now dead last.
Bob Barker: I can't believe you're a professional golfer. I think you should be working at the snack bar.

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Your Citation
Khurana, Simran. ""Happy Gilmore" Is a Classic American Story of Fighting the Odds." ThoughtCo, Mar. 2, 2017, thoughtco.com/happy-gilmore-classic-american-story-2832495. Khurana, Simran. (2017, March 2). "Happy Gilmore" Is a Classic American Story of Fighting the Odds. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/happy-gilmore-classic-american-story-2832495 Khurana, Simran. ""Happy Gilmore" Is a Classic American Story of Fighting the Odds." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/happy-gilmore-classic-american-story-2832495 (accessed November 22, 2017).