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Happy golf

17 Feb 17


Happy Gilmore was the $40 million smash-hit movie that broke all the rules of golf with star Adam Sandler hitting huge 400 yard drives using a crazy two step run up.

The big-hitting, foul-mouthed, ice hockey-mad big screen bad boy became a cult hero with golfers.

Now, more than 20 years after the movie was made, the very first Happy Gilmore Challenge tournament is being staged for PGA Professionals. And there’s only one main rule – you have to play the entire event like Happy.

That means every shot has to be taken with a two-step run up – and hit as hard as possible.

Bonnyton Golf Club PGA Professional Kendal McWade (pictured below, right) is the brains behind the inaugural Happy G Pro’s Challenge at Wycombe Heights Golf Club in Buckinghamshire on March 30th.

He admits to still being a huge Happy Gilmore fan and was motivated to set up the event after noticing that the youngsters he teaches all know who Happy is and love trying to hit the ball like their hero

 “It’s a crazy idea, but I just thought – why not?” the Glasgow-based McWade explained. “It’s something that I have always wanted to do because Happy Gilmore was such a fantastic film.

“The final push came when I was watching my regional squad players winding down after a coaching session recently. They were all trying Happy Gilmore shots – taking two steps then whacking it.

“They were having a great time, and I thought to myself it would be fun to organise a full blown professional event – just like the one in the movie.

“Thanks to the support of a lot of incredible people, it looks like we will be able to make it happen. We have a fantastic course to host the one round event and so far ten professionals have signed up. But it would be amazing if we could get more taking part.”

The rules of the Happy G Pro’s Challenge are simple;

  • 18 holes stroke play
  • All shots – apart from putts - have to be stepped into with a maximum of two steps
  • The back swing must have started before the lead foot is planted.
  • On the greens players must adopt a hockey style, split-handed grip.

1502KendallmcwadeAs well as hitting the ball like Happy, McWade is hoping professionals taking part will get into the spirit of the event by wearing an ice hockey shirt just like Sandler’s failed NHL star. “If they want to really make the event authentic and look like Happy, that’s fine with me,” he said.

“The film is more than 20 years old but it is still a favourite, even with the youngsters that I teach,” McWade explained. “The whole day is just a bit of fun, so if pros want to dress the part as well, complete with an ice hockey shirt, that would make it better still.”

McWade added: “Most people worry what will happen when they swing like Happy with a small run up – but the results are actually amazing. If you take a run up, you swing much easier than you imagine.

“I am sure there will be a lot of competitive players out there wanting to be the Happy Challenge winner – but ultimately the whole event is just for fun and will help raise some funds for a good cause.”

The Challenge is £75 to enter with profits going to research into dementia. There will be a prize fund on the day. However, it is still unknown if the winner will walk away with a Happy-style over-sized cheque.

“This is not your standard golf tournament,” McWade said. “It should all be a lot of fun and I will be interested to see if anyone can hit it as far as Happy.

“I know that Padraig Harrington has tried a Happy-style drive and it added 30 yards to his normal distance. With a run-up he went from hitting it 300 yards to 330.”

*If you are a PGA Professional and would like to take part in the event contact Kendal at on 07770 810130 or  

You can watch the clip of Padraig Harrington using the notorious swing below:

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