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Retiring Lundquist recalls “Happy Gilmore”

Former radio Dallas Cowboys voice Verne Lundquist (left) is retiring at season’s end from CBS, but he has made an eternal mark for his role in the 1996 movie “Happy Gilmore.”
Former radio Dallas Cowboys voice Verne Lundquist (left) is retiring at season’s end from CBS, but he has made an eternal mark for his role in the 1996 movie “Happy Gilmore.” Golf Digest

Along with Vin Scully, add Verne Lundquist to the list of all-time great voices who is soon retiring.

The former radio voice of the Dallas Cowboys and veteran play-by-play man will soon be leaving the booth as the main man for the SEC on CBS. He will remain doing some work on the network’s college basketball and golf coverage.

He is truly one of the most decent men in sports media.

His last college football telecast will be the Army/Navy game on Dec. 10.

While Verne will be remembered for his famous calls involving the Christian Laettner shot against Kentucky, the “Kick 6” finale to the 2013 Iron Bowl, or the Jackie Smith dropped touchdown in the Super Bowl, it is Lundquist’s work in Hollywood that has endured beyond those sporting events.

Twenty years ago, Lundquist took a role in the Adam Sandler “golf” movie, “Happy Gilmore.”

In a recent interview for a piece later, I asked Verne about this role and whether or not he still hears from fans about this movie.

“All the time,” he said. “I still get a check for $34 a month from the (Screen Actor’s Guild). The other part of doing that movie was the effect it had on my career. The young college kids are really wrapped up in this thing. I’m 76 and it’s given me an avenue of conversation with college kids.”

The line he hears the most?

“Who the hell is Happy Gilmore?” he said.

“My participation in that movie was the last week or, day, of shooting. I flew up the night before to Vancouver and all the scenes I shot were filmed in the back of an abandoned hospital where they had taken over this building for the interior shots and set up the golf broadcast booth. They had 400 extras dressed in golf gear. If you see that movie again there is a guy sitting next to me on every shot whose name is Jack Giarraputo - he was Adam Sandler’s roomate at New York University.

“The morning we are on location at 7:30 a.m. and they have the makeup trailer and right before we start shooting and the director, Dennis Dugan, who played the golf commissioner in the movie, said to Jack, ‘Go into wardrobe and get a tie and sit next to Verne (on set); you can’t say a word because you don’t belong to the Screen Actor’s Guild.’ No one knows who he was; it was Adam Sandler’s desire to have his friend in the film. And Jack became the producer in all of Sandler’s movies.”

The silly-dumb-funny movie became a cult hit, and easily quotable by fans of sports’ movies.

The Price is wrong, b---h.

Doin' the Bull Dance. Feelin' the flow. Workin' it. Workin' it.

“It was 2005, I think, and I was doing a college basketball game at Arizona and North Carolina and I am watching practice with (former CBS college basketball analyst) Billy Packer up in the stands,” Lundquist said. “This tall, lanky guy comes up and he says, ‘They want to talk to you.’ I said, ‘You mean, Billy?’ He said, ‘No - they want you.’”

The University of North Carolina basketball team had requested Lundquist to address the team.

“I knew what they wanted to hear so I said it - ‘Who the hell is Happy Gilmore?’” he said. “They all laughed. I said if you all win the national title, I expect a shout out in the locker room for this inspirational speech. And I’ll be damned if they won it, and they didn’t do it.”

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