Career Lessons You Missed From Caddyshack

Originally posted 2015-01-18 21:07:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Ty Webb: Remember Danny – Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three rights make a left.

Anyone who knows me knows that Caddyshack is by far my most favorite movie of all time (yes, even above Star Wars). I have a signed movie poster in my basement, Rodney Dangerfield’s autographed red tie, and Judge Smails’ hat.

But along the way of watching the movie, let’s say, 600+ times, I noticed there were underlying career lessons that you might have missed if you were laughing non-stop at Al Czervik’s one-liners. So without further ado, the career lessons I learned from Caddyshack…


gjrnkBeing in a house that had what seemed like 13 kids, Danny Noonan knew it was up to him to do something if he wanted to change his lot in life.

It’s not like Danny Noonan’s family was poor, but when your father yells at you for having lunch and 4 or 5 cokes (“What are you, a diabetic?”) instead of putting that money in the “College Fund” jar, then yeah, you need to do something.

So Danny made a goal, and that goal was to go to college. He was going to get there by any means necessary. Whether it be to work for the tuition at the golf course, win the Caddy Tournament for a scholarship, beg Ty Webb for it, or engage in a little illegal gambling, gosh darn it, it was going to happen.


gjttrFirst thing in the morning, Lou the Caddy Master comes out with a four-some…”Smails, Dr. Beeper…” and Danny is the first one to jump up to take them.

“Brown noser!” his friends yell, but he doesn’t care. He wants to engage in conversations with the power brokers of the club.  He knows they’re living the lives he wants to live, and getting in with them is a good idea.

And so even though he strikes out by saying he is interested in noise statute law when Al Czervik is blasting Journey on the course, or when he insists on joining the Lutheran Youth organization to the Bishop, Danny is insistent on making his goal a reality…regardless of what his friends say.

So don’t be afraid to rub elbows with the power brokers, even if you do strike out initially.


gjumyOur number one rule in business: Always. Be. Networking.

Danny just doesn’t stop at Judge Smails and the Bishop, he tells his story to everyone he can, albeit sometimes the wrong way. He tells Ty Webb who replies with, “Why do you need to go to college? This isn’t Russia, is this Russia?”

Ty sees that Danny is persistent and then gives him some advice: “Don’t be obsessed with your desires Danny. The Zen philosopher, Basho, once wrote, ‘A flute with no holes, is not a flute. A donut with no hole, is a Danish.’ He was a funny guy. “

Basically, what happened is that Ty saw right through Danny, and knew that he was desperate. Networking is about creating relationships. Simply telling people you need business or you will be a failure will indeed make you fail. Desperation is never an attractive approach.

But Danny does get it that networking will get you much farther that simply sitting back and doing nothing, so he gets credit for having the right idea.


gjut9Caddyshack was filmed over a span of 11 weeks.

The role of Carl Spackler, the club’s junior groundskeeper who’s a complete and total slob and haphazardly stumbles his way through the film trying to kill off a gopher, being told that the pond out back is probably good enough for him, and fantasizing about some of the elder female members of the club was supposed to be a really small role.

Really small.

Bill Murray, having worked on Saturday Night Live and the movie Meatballs, still took the bit part.

And he killed it.  So much so that they kept calling him back to film more scenes and making the part a little bit larger.

But he was still all wrapped up in six days.

And in those six days, Bill Murray took off on the trajectory that led him to Ghostbusters, Scrooged, Groundhog Day and everything else for which we know and love him.

It’s hard to argue with those results.


gjub5So Danny sets his sights on chumming up with Judge Smails and thinks he’s made it when Smails asks Danny to join him and his circle of family and friends to christen his new yacht, The Flying Wasp.  Even through Smails is a condescending jerk, Danny still knows that he’s got to grin and bear it in order to take advantage of getting inside the world he wants to be a part of so badly.  And so he decides to put his best foot forward:  instead of dressing like Smails’ mess of a grandson Spaulding in a bucket hat and a tank top, Danny goes all in. Full Captains regalia. Hat. Sport coat. White pants. Striking.

Again, his peer group destroys him as Spaulding sees him and comments “Ahoy, Polloi, where’d you just come from? A Scotch ad?” and takes great pleasure in pointing out that Danny isn’t a club member, but just a caddy who works there.

Danny could care less – he wants to impress the Smails’ and does so with flying colors.

The lesson here: Always dress the part. You would never want to wear something that would throw off a potential client or business partner.


gjrxnDanny has hitched his wagon to Judge Smails’ favor, which seems perfect.  Smails is rich.  Smails has power and influence.  Smails is everything Danny wants to be.

Or so he thinks at first.

As the movie unfolds, Danny starts to clue in to what everyone besides him knows from the outset – Smails isn’t looking out for Danny.  Smails is never going to help Danny.  Smails is stringing Danny along with little tidbits of backhanded praise, or getting him to mow his yard for free with a promise of coming to the yacht club…which is really all about Smails having one more person to flaunt his wealth in front of more than anything else, or any of a number of times when Danny should have clued in but hasn’t…

…until he finally does.

It’s really simple, folks – not everyone has your best interests at heart, and you have to keep your eyes open at all times, and see people for who they are…and their intentions.


gjsw3So Ty Webb and Judge Smails have a little spat and want to engage in a golf scramble match for $20,000 a head. Ty picks Al Czervik, Judge picks the Bishop.

Czervik is golfing horribly so he fakes an injury, and Ty Webb asks Danny to golf with them.  Danny stops and thinks for a moment,  and Czervik adds, “We’ll make it worth your while!”

So now Danny is in the middle of a conundrum: Lose what he worked so hard with in regards to building a relationship with Judge Smails, or go for a better alternative route that will attain his goal quicker and easier.

Opportunity is knocking.

Danny chooses to golf with Ty and wins the round, thus achieving his goal and making enough money to pay for college.  It’s not the way he thought it would happen, and he ticked off the person he’d been building a relationship with, but it got him to his goal and that’s what really mattered.

Opportunity knocked, and he answered the door.  He took a calculated risk, and it paid off for him big time.

That’s all for this time. Go check out our other “Career Lessons You Probably Missed” from The Breakfast Club and Scarface, or something else



1 Comment
  1. Stephen D Fox says

    Great article except for the account of the golf match. Al chooses Ty Webb to be his partner after Al gets into the beef with the judge.

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