Caddyshack (1980)


“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.” —Arnold Palmer, golfer

My well of firsthand relationship advice is not too deep (yet!), but I have seen Fireproof and The Notebook, so I know a thing or two about gleaning relationship wisdom from the movies. Today is Valentine’s Day. The next movie on my AFI comedy list is CaddyshackErgo, here are five practical tips on love from Harold Ramis‘s brash and definitely not monogamous golfing romp.

1. Get rid of the gophers in your relationship.
In a subplot that runs through the entire movie—which has probably become the most iconic aspect of the movie itself—a seriously stoned groundskeeper (Bill Murray) declares war on a gopher that is digging tunnels under the golf course. With battle tactics ranging from flushing out the gopher to detonating it with explosives, Carl Spackler’s tenacity puts Wile E. Coyote to shame.

Relationship gophers come in many forms: workaholism, prettier people, and pornography, just to name a few. Nip these distractions in the bud. They will undermine and destroy your relationship.

2. Be each other’s caddy.
Put the other person first. Serve your partner well and odds are in your favor that you will have a long and happy relationship.

3. Don’t keep score.
Chevy Chase‘s character, Ty Webb, is not a role model in Caddyshack. (Come to think of it, is Chevy Chase a role model in any of his films?) However, we can find a golden nugget in this little exchange:

Smails: “Ty, what did you shoot today?”
Webb: “Oh, I don’t keep score, Judge.”
Smails: “Oh. Well, how do you measure yourself with other golfers?”
Webb: “By height.”

A little competition can be a good thing, but too much scorekeeping will weigh down any relationship. Whenever one of my friends says, “You owe me for this one,” I catch myself feeling guilty around them until I return the favor.

4. Don’t get distracted by floating Baby Ruths.
Of course, I’m referencing the famous scene where all the caddies flee the pool because they think they see a floating piece of poo. But when aforementioned Carl Spackler takes a bite out of it later, we see that it’s really just a Baby Ruth candy bar.

When it comes to relationships, the Baby Ruth mix up translates to the things we freak out about that really aren’t that big of a deal. Is this fight about something that will matter in two weeks? If not, let it go.

5. Bet on each other.
[Spoiler alert. Then again, I guess this movie’s been out since 1980, so the joke’s on you.]
The climax of Caddyshack involves Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) betting $80,000 that a caddy can putt the golf ball into the hole. In any other movie, this might seem like an act of faith. But we have been watching the disoriented, zany Mr. Czervic for over an hour now, and we know it’s just another one of his impulses.

Think about it, though. When two people fall in love and decide to spend the rest of their lives together, they are kinda putting all their cards on the table for each other…all their eggs in one basket…all their chips in one pile. It sounds like a concept too crazy for Czervic himself, but it’s true.

Love your partner like you’re betting your life on that person. Because you are.