Maybe Happy Gilmore Wasn't a Dang Fool
No one should ever question the integrity of the movie Happy Gilmore. The movie is pure fantasy based on a preposterous concept that a guy who drives the ball exceptionally far will have distance control and the ability to hit wedge shots around the green. It also has some terrible graphics that make it seem like Happy is playing at the local municipal course and gets started because Happy wins the Waterford Open (the winner gets a spot on tour? Pure Fiction). As a result, its plot is almost meaningless and makes it feel more like a hockey movie that just happens to feature golf. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is awesome. The suspension of disbelief is key, so any real issue you might take with the movie is almost immediately made void by the general concept that Chubbs lost his hand to a croc during a PGA Tour event.
The idea of a young guy who can hit it a mile and doesn’t look like the rest of the tour is almost prophetic in 1996 (a certain Big Cat broke onto the scene in 1997 by winning the Masters in 1997). Also, who doesn’t want to see Bob Barker say the words “the price is wrong, bitch”? But there is one glaring issue: how the hell did it take Happy so long to get a sponsorship?
As already stated, suspension of disbelief is important, but Happy looks like a damn fool for not getting any sponsorship prior to his Subway commercial. What is even stranger is the fact that he got paid for the commercial and then started wearing the subway t-shirt afterwards, not the other way around. The entire purpose of the movie is to make enough money ($270,000 in back taxes) to save his grandmother’s home from the Phil-Mickelson-analog Shooter McGavin (Phil is basically the villain in every Golf movie). Shooter even says that he should try and compete on some of the long drive tours (he should have, but that’s a less interesting movie). It is clear that Happy doesn’t particularly love the game, but he does love having fun on the course. And the way he attracts the shanty-dwellers of the world is very unique.
Ultimately, Happy Gilmore is clearly a marketing bonanza for whatever firm thinks he should shill out their product. Although Happy doesn’t seem like much of a sell-out, he also has brand loyalty, as displayed by his soliloquy regarding his meaty, tasty subway sandwich. He probably wouldn’t get a club deal because the ones he is using are his grandfather’s and potentially provide a source of Happy’s supernatural ball-striking ability. Happy also probably wouldn’t wear a hat, as Adam Sandler looks notoriously stupid in hats. So I guess that leaves him getting a new golf bag and a pair of shoes, although the latter is less likely as Happy’s wind up might be adversely affected by wearing cleats or spikes.
So how come no one ever sponsored Happy’s bag? By conservative estimates, a rookie on Tour in 1996 might make between $10,000 and $50,000 for a bag sponsorship. But a lot of bag sponsorships are more contingent upon what’s inside the bag, and you can be certain that Titleist would not want to connect its brand with a set of out-of-date bats. Another brand might have selected to slap their logo on his bag, but that was unheard of back in 1996 and still somewhat, 20 years later.
So is there any other way that Happy could have made $270,000 so quickly? It doesn’t really look like it. The sport was much less marketable pre-Tiger (or pre-Happy, depending on how you look at it) and although Happy clearly had increased the interest in the sport in general, there was not much room for the non-golfer to get golfer money without ruining his image. He probably would have cleaned up post Gold-Jacket (or Green Jacket, who gives a shit) doing commercials and going to events, but that defeats the purpose of this entire analysis.
If there is another opportunity for Happy to make some nice change, please let us know.