by Michael Dutro, Kendall Academy Instructor
If you have never witnessed the cinematic masterpiece that is “Caddyshack”, stop what you are doing, clear your schedule, and let the laughs begin. If you have ever worked in the golf industry or have every spent much time hanging around the golf course, then you will have no problem relating to this film.
We all have a Judge Smails in our life and hopefully a Carl Spackler to offset the oppression and share a few laughs with. If you are really lucky, then you have your own spiritual advisor like Danny Noonan had in Ty Webb.
Even though this film is a comedy at heart, there are a few life lessons that can be gained from watching it as well.
Part One: The Golf Ball Doesn’t Care Where You Come From
At the core of the film, is an underdog story. Danny Noonan is a middle-class kid from a large family who is seeking approval of the Bushwood Elite. In his journey, he becomes a self-described “creep”, and struggles to find the balance between what he thought he wanted to be and what he should be.
The reason we all love an underdog story is because we know how much hard work and dedication went into giving the underdog the opportunity to succeed against all odds.
Golf has been known for creating some of the greatest underdog moments in all of sports. The reason for this is that golf is a fair sport, meaning, you don’t have to be born with a particular set of skills or attributes to be good. In short, the golf ball doesn’t care where you came from, or how you got there, it only cares about where the club face is at impact.
Believe it or not, you can become a good golfer, but like everything else worth having in life, you have to go work for it. I don’t know any good golfers who haven’t spent countless hours at the range perfecting their swing or standing over 3-footers on the practice green until they can make 100 in a row.
Coming from privilege, having the best equipment, and even being lucky enough to have a good instructor won’t guarantee success at the game of golf. The truth is, the only way to get better at golf is to practice. The reason that most people won’t practice enough is because we don’t get any praise for it, and it really isn’t the most fun thing we could be doing with that time. However, golfers who embrace practice tend to have a lot more fun on the golf course, because they are prepared, and when the pressure is on, they know what they need to accomplish to achieve the outcome they desire.
Lee Trevino, a 6-time major winner, overcame being born into extreme poverty and succeeded in a Caucasian dominated sport as a Hispanic male. He wasn’t born with special abilities, yet he knew that he wanted more out of life and worked tirelessly until he reached the pinnacle of the golfing world.
We can be better than we are, we aren’t destined for the ‘Lumber Yard”, roll your sleeves up and “be the ball”.
Part Two: The World Needs Ditch Diggers Too
Danny Noonan may be described as slacker, or an underachieving member of society, but one thing is for sure, he sure isn’t applying himself. During the scene depicted below, Danny Noonan is attempting to get Judge Smails to pick up the tab for college, this doesn’t go well and leads to the line “the world needs ditch diggers too”.
The game of golf doesn’t owe us anything. It exists, and it is up to us to go out and “beat” the course. Just because you devote your resources to getting better at golf, doesn’t mean that you are actually going to get better.
I see the same people at Miles of Golf every day, hitting balls aimlessly, just hoping they are right around the corner from sustained improvement. The truth is, unless they have an internal blueprint for their golf swing, it is never going to get better. Hitting balls and playing golf doesn’t magically make us better. Working on fundamentals and improving the body alignments is the only way to truly see lasting improvement.
It has been my experience that golfers after a bad round, love to share the misery and blame the poor performance on a multitude of issues, with none of the grievances being founded in reality. It is the same as a student taking a test and performing poorly, I bet that student didn’t do their due diligence when it came to learning the material.
Just remember when you are standing on the first-tee, you will be alone. There is nowhere to turn or hide. You, and you alone, should have a reasonable idea of what to expect based on your preparation. You may not have been practicing like you should, and may still have a pleasant round, but I wouldn’t start expecting these results on a regular basis.
I think Judge Smails set the tone for the game of golf when he declared to his grandson Spalding, “You’ll get nothing and like it”.
Part Three: Life’s Short, Let’s Dance
Al Czervik is a dream member for a person working at a private facility, he rains $100 bills on the staff, and generally is just looking to have a good time. Even though Al would never be considered a serious golfer, he was comfortable being in his own skin and tearing down the establishment.
Al Czervik represents the vast majority of golfers. It is the personality of Al that has spawned TopGolf, golf for the less than serious fan. There is nothing wrong with just wanting to have a good time on the golf course.
Golf is a game that is played as a single competitor in most formats, however, is generally played with a group of four people. We need to be respectful of one another, but having some fun is okay. I see more and more junior golfers playing in tournaments and they don’t say anything to one another. Golf should be a social game and should be used to develop our interpersonal skills as well.
In the grand scheme of things, golf is a game that should bring us joy and happiness. We should enjoy our time while walking the manicured fairways of your local course. We no longer have to install stereo equipment into our golf bag, we can use our phone and a mobile speaker to start the party. So yea, let’s dance in the fairways.