Indiana Junior Is The Real Happy Gilmore

Life changed dramatically for Landon Gilmore when he was about 6 years old. That’s when he started competing in junior golf tournaments — and a certain nickname took hold.

Pretty soon thereafter, he became a first-tee curiosity on the Indiana junior golf circuit. Much like the title character turned heads by bringing a hockey enforcer’s mentality to pro golf in the 1996 Adam Sandler classic “Happy Gilmore.”

“Sometimes, when I first introduce myself, they will look at me funny,” said Gilmore, a 16-year-old rising junior at Bloomington South High School in Bloomington, Ind. “But if my golf bag is there and has my name on it, that will kind of help a little bit. But it never fails. At some point they will ask me, ‘Is that your real name?’ or ‘How did you get that name?’ Something along those lines.”

This Happy doesn’t have the, uh, on-course temperament of his big-screen namesake, nor did he convert to golf after initially pursuing hockey.  

He does, however, have a real-life foil in the form of the parody Twitter account, and their “rivalry” has produced some amusing posts.

The good-natured feud with the iconic sports movie villain stems from Gilmore’s headline-grabbing performance in a U.S. Open qualifier at Old Oakland Golf Club. Gilmore shot an 80, capturing the attention of the Golf Twitterverse and prompting the McGavin account to dust off an old prank.

“If anyone sees this kid, tell him I’d love to meet him tonight on the 9th green at 9,” @ShooterMcGavin_ tweeted, referring to the moment in the film where Shooter sets a trap for Happy involving the on-course sprinkler system.

To his credit, Landon “Happy” Gilmore has taken the ribbing in stride. He’s also quite adept at hitting the long ball, albeit with different mechanics.

“I’m pretty long (off the tee),” Gilmore said. “Here lately I’ve been struggling with my driver, but typically I’m very good off the tee and my putting is usually pretty good. I’ve been working hard on getting my wedges up because my irons are decent, but my strong suits are definitely off the tee and off the green.”