Adam Sandler’s Personal Inspiration Behind Happy Gilmore Is Very Emotional


  • Happy Gilmore was inspired by Adam Sandler’s childhood friend, Kyle McDonough, who was a passionate ice hockey player.
  • McDonough’s ability to hit a golf ball further than others due to his hockey skills gave Sandler and his dad the idea for the film.
  • McDonough, now a history teacher and high school hockey coach, remains friends with Sandler and may appear in future Sandler productions or a Happy Gilmore sequel.

Happy Gilmore is a sports comedy that became a cult favorite for its low-brow Adam Sandler humor, yet the inspiration behind the film is very emotional. The film premiered in 1996 when Adam Sandler was trying to carve a name for himself outside Saturday Night Live, and he starred and co-wrote the film alongside Tim Herlihy. Happy Gilmore made nearly $40 million at the box office with a budget of $12 million, and its success with the audience is even more heartwarming because the story was personal to Sandler.

Happy Gilmore is a comedy about an unsuccessful ice hockey player with a bad temper, who discovers his innate talent for golf. Sandler plays the title character, Happy Gilmore, and his inspiration for the film was his childhood friend, Kyle McDonough. Although critics weren’t on board with the film, the audience loved the characters, the villain, the side characters, its hilarious scenes, as well as Happy Gilmore’s funny quotes and comebacks, helping it stay popular almost three decades after its premiere. So much so, that fans even want to see Adam Sandler return with Happy Gilmore 2.


12 Things You Didn’t Know About Happy Gilmore

With the release of The Do-Over, we thought we’d look back at some lesser known facts surrounding Adam Sandler’s classic comedy, Happy Gilmore.

Happy Gilmore Was Inspired By Adam Sandler’s Real Childhood Friend

The character is loosely based on a real hockey player

Adam Sandler's friend Kyle McDonough happy

Adam Sandler wrote Happy Gilmore having his childhood friend in mind. He met Kyle McDonough at school in their first year, and they continued to be friends since. Kyle was a very passionate ice hockey player, with a bit of a temper. McDonough also frequently played golf with Sandler and his father, and he was able to hit the golf ball further than the rest of the group, and Sandler and his dad decided the reason was because McDonough played hockey and gave him an edge. According to McDonough, Sandler’s dad gave him the idea for the film, thinking “there was something funny in there.” (via British Ice Hockey).

Although he didn’t ditch his hockey career for golf, Kyle McDonough was a professional ice hockey player. He started playing for the Vermont Catamounts men’s ice hockey team for four seasons in college in the second half of the 1980s. He led the team to its first winning season in six years and its first NCAA tournament in 1988. In his senior year, McDonough was named All-American. He began his professional career in Europe after graduating, and, although he didn’t make it to the National Hockey League, played in the East Coast Hockey League, the British Hockey League, and a league in Norway.

What Happened To The Man Who Inspired Happy Gilmore

Adam Sandler has a habit of including his friends in his films

Adam Sandler yelling at a golf ball in Happy Gilmore

Kyle McDonough was inducted into the Vermont Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999 and the New Hampshire Legends of Hockey in 2003. He retired in 2002, and is now a History teacher in Sandler’s hometown, while also coaching the high school hockey team. When it comes to his actor friend, McDonough and Sandler are still friends. Adam Sandler has a habit of casting friends and family in his movies, and he cast Kyle McDonough in Grown Ups 2. He had a small cameo, but it was left out in the final edit. However, Kyle McDonough might appear in future Sandler productions or even a Happy Gilmore sequel.

Source: British Ice Hockey

  • Happy Gilmore

    Release Date:




    92 minutes



    A rejected hockey player puts his skills to the golf course to save his grandmother’s house.

    $12 million