Bill Murray is a comedy legend. He was hilarious on SNL, where he was a fixture throughout the ‘80s. He was also great in lots of movies, like Scrooged, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, and Zombieland—just to name a few. But my all-time favorite Bill Murray performance came in my all-time favorite comedy: Caddyshack.
Murray played Carl Spackler, the assistant greenskeeper at Bushwood Country Club. The golf course is infested with gophers, so the head greenskeeper (who has a thick Scottish accent) instructs Carl to kill all the gophers. Carl comes back with “Check me if I’m wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they’re gonna lock me up and throw away the key!” Once Carl understands, though, he takes his job seriously—extremely seriously. But that doesn’t stop him drinking on the job and kicking back with Ty Webb, played by Chevy Chase. (Apparently Chase and Murray—among the funniest SNL performers ever—weren’t fond of each other, and got in a physical altercation right before one SNL show.)
Then there’s the iconic scene—which Murray allegedly improvised—where Carl takes a club and starts doing practice swings on plants near the clubhouse, skimming the top off a plant with each stroke, while dramatically narrating his position in a fictional professional golf tournament as if he were an announcer. “It looks like a mirac—IT’S IN THE HOLE!”
But my favorite part is when Carl relates a story to a caddy about how he once caddied for the Dalia Lama, who stiffed him on a tip afterward. In lieu of the tip, the Dalai Lama promised Carl eternal consciousness on his deathbed. “So I got that going for me, which is nice,” says Carl.
If you’ve never seen Caddyshack, do yourself a favor and watch it soon—and pay close attention to Carl Spackler.