124th U.S. Open

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The Loop

Six authentic golf/country club moments in Caddyshack (And a few others that rang hollow)

July 25, 2019

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On this date in 1980, a little arthouse film called "Caddyshack" was released upon the world. The movie is an indelible part of the game's fabric: almost every golfer owns the movie, or has seen enough reruns on Golf Channel to recite the dialogue by heart. Well, unless you're Golf Digest's Alex Myers, who somehow in his 37 years of existence has watched the cult classic just once. Once!

The movie continues to hold a relevant place in culture, evidenced by the celebration surrounding its Netflix debut this January. Which makes sense: even for the hoards of hackers who know every word of the film, there's a comfort knowing Carl Spackler, Al Czervik, Judge Smails, Ty Webb and the rest of the Bushwood Country Club gang are readily available at a moment's notice.

In honor of the movie's anniversary, here are the six most authentic golf moments in "Caddyshack," with a few others that rang hollow.


The caddie scholarship program

Throughout the movie, Judge Smails dangles the prospect of a caddie college scholarship to looper Danny Noonan. Such a grant is not specific to Bushwood. From the Chick Evans Scholarship to local associations and clubs, there are a host of avenues for caddies to earn a college endowment.

"I hear this place is restricted, Wang, so don't tell 'em you're Jewish, OK?"

One of the film's funniest lines is also a biting nod at golf's exclusive nature. Plenty of the sport's premier clubs have been accused of discrimination and sexism. Though the sport is building toward a more welcoming environment, sadly, Rodney Dangerfield's quip remains relevant.

The lightning strike

The bishop's quest for the course record in biblical conditions seems farcical...

Yet plenty of golfers have clashed against inhospitable weather, many times to their detriment. Major winners Lee Trevino and Retief Goosen are two victims of strikes, and golf is one of the leading activities in lightning deaths per year.

"Let's go. While we're young!"

Another Dangerfield classic, and go-to line for golfers watching their partners waggle away.

The quote was used by the USGA for their "While We're Young" campaign, an initiative to combat golf's ongoing pace-of-play issue.

The legacy kid

The vapid disposition, profanity, arrested development, and the fact he's disliked and ridiculed by the rest of the club. If you don't know a Spaulding Smails in your life, you've never worked or belonged to a golf course. Or worse, you're him.

Orange ball

Perhaps this adds more color to Dangerfield's character, but orange golf balls weren't merely a gimmick. Jerry Pate famously used an orange Wilson ProStaff to win the 1982 Players Championship.


The ending

Here is the USGA's Rule 16-2, regarding a ball overhanging the cup lip:

"When any part of the ball overhangs the lip of the hole, the player is allowed enough time to reach the hole without unreasonable delay and an additional 10 seconds to determine whether the ball is at rest. If by then the ball has not fallen into the hole, it is deemed to be at rest. If the ball subsequently falls into the hole, the player is deemed to have holed out with his last stroke, and must add a penalty stroke to his score for the hole; otherwise, there is no penalty under this Rule."

Keeping this in mind, watch Noonan's final putt:

Noonan should have received a penalty, giving the victory to Judge Smails and Dr. Beeper. A chilling fate, but also the correct one.

Chevy Chase's swing

I'm supposed to believe this is the swing of a club champ?

No wonder he choked in the final match.

Dalai Lama

Apparently his Holiness has never picked up a club. But don't let a little thing like facts get in the way of a good story.