Real-Life Happy Gilmore Gets Adam Sandler Message After College Move

A golfer who goes by the name of the character played by Sandler in the 1996 movie has received a tweet from the actor

A generic image of a player driving a ball
Landon "Happy" Gilmore has received a message from Adam Sandler
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A senior at Indiana’s Bloomington State High is proving that life sometimes imitates art.

Seventeen-year-old Landon Gilmore has agreed to play golf for the Cardinals at Ball State University from the fall of 2024 after a promising career that has included becoming the 2020 Hurricane Junior Tour player of the year, finishing runner-up at the Indiana State Junior in 2022 and qualifying for this year's US Junior Amateur. 

However, as well as racking up that impressive record, another aspect of Gilmore’s story is catching the eye – its similarities with the 1996 comedy Happy Gilmore. Indeed, Gilmore has even dropped the “Landon” part of his name now and takes the first name of the character the movie is named after, Happy.

In the comedy, the main protagonist stumbles into a career in the game after winning a long-drive contest. That’s precisely how the real-life Gilmore found his way into golf, winning the long-drive contest at the Pepsi Little People’s Tournament in Quincy, Illinois, at the age of nine, after which he began using the nickname.

His career has been on an upward trajectory since and, on the exciting new chapter, Gilmore told the Golf Channel: “Going into the whole recruiting process, I had such an open mind and had nowhere that I was set on going. After calls with Coach [Mike] Fleck, I went up and visited, and I loved the campus; it’s small. Their schedule is jam-packed with good teams all year. I know a few of the guys. They have a really nice indoor practice facility. And so, it was just a perfect fit for me.”

He also revealed he’s more than, well, happy with his choice of nickname. He said: “It’d be hard for me to sit here and say it hasn’t [inspired me]. It’s definitely helped me publicity-wise.”

However, he admitted there had been one disadvantage. He explained: “No matter where I play at, someone will see my scorecard. So, when I shot an 88 at that [US Open] local qualifier, I was really hoping no one would see that. That kind of blew up a little bit. There’s good and bad, I guess, but I have a really great attitude, and I don’t let anything bother me. Honestly, I love when I go through and read comments of people poking fun.”

That issue aside, there have been another benefit to his eye-catching moniker in the form of a tweet from none other than Adam Sandler, who co-wrote the hit comedy and played the main character. He responded to Gilmore’s announcement of his decision to join Ball State University, writing: “Go get em Happy. Pulling for you.”

“When I saw that Adam Sandler retweeted my tweet, my little heart kind of fell apart there,” Gilmore admitted. “I was speechless and didn’t really know what to do with myself for a minute.”

Gilmore admitted of his college goals: “I just want to play good golf and see what happens.” 

With his impressive record so far and a name ripe for sponsorship opportunities, there’s surely every chance we’ll hear more of Gilmore as the years progress.

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.