Christopher McDonald Invented Some of Shooter McGavin’s Best ‘Happy Gilmore’ Moments

‘Choke on that, baby!’
Christopher McDonald Invented Some of Shooter McGavin’s Best ‘Happy Gilmore’ Moments

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A lot of comedy heavyweights were involved in the making of Happy Gilmore. There was 800-pound gorilla Adam Sandler, for one. Judd Apatow did an uncredited rewrite. And director Dennis Dugan has a bunch of Sandler films under his belt, as well as comedies starring Chris Farley and Jack Black. But when it came down to the comic details for Happy’s nemesis Shooter McGavin? Actor Christopher McDonald deserves a lot of the credit.

“I had no idea why they called him Shooter,” McDonald confessed to Rich Eisen. “Nobody told me anything so I just started making putts and going ‘Shooter!’,” celebrating a successful hole with a flick of his smoking finger guns. “That was my call.”

The funny thing: McDonald turned down the part of Shooter McGavin twice. “I wanted to see more of my family,” he told And So It Begins. But soon after, McDonald won a golf competition and “that high was something else. So, with my golf shoes still on, I went in the locker room, called my agent and said, ‘Is that golf movie still available, because I just won this tournament and I’m feeling a little bit, well, Shooterish.’” 

Tournament champ McDonald took the golf part of his role seriously, telling Eisen about one of his sports movie pet peeves — the camera focuses on the actor putting the ball, then the film cuts to a close-up of the ball rolling into the hole. In other words, there’s no way the actor actually tapped that bad boy in. That wasn't good enough for Shooter McGavin. “Could you please let me make it?” McDonald begged director Dugan about a 32-foot putt made even more difficult because they were filming on a botanical garden, not an actual golf green. Dugan agreed, as long as McDonald could sink the shot in seven tries. 

The crew started throwing down bills, placing wagers on whether or not McDonald could make the putt. (It was a good way to see who his real friends were, the actor said.) Those who bet on McDonald’s failure must have been feeling good after his first four shots, including two that lipped out at the last second. But on try #5, the ball dropped in the hole. “Choke on that, baby!” shouted McDonald, as much at the crew members betting against him as Happy Gilmore. “I just did that whole Shooter shaming thing. That’s the one they left in the movie, and it’s so freaking wrong.”

McDonald credits Dugan with giving him the freedom to do a lot of improv. “Hitting the beach ball with the club, ‘Damn you people, go back to your shanties,’ we really had fun with that one,” he said. “And the fact that that (Happy Gilmore) is still on people’s minds is great.”


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