Caddyshack 101: Lessons beyond the golf course

ESPN.com’s Jason Sobel visited Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL last year and attended a class that completely breaks the mold of traditional academics.

The class; CaddyShack 101: Lessons from the Coolest Sports Movie Ever Made.

If you’re reading this blog, than obviously you’ve some interest in golf and I seriously doubt you haven’t heard of it, but just in case, CaddyShack is golf comedy movie released on the year of my birth (1980) starring Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield.

The class was created and is taught by Professor Ted Curtis, who has worked in the university’s sports management department for over 11 years.

“This is not about the film,” said Curtis, “The film is hilarious and crude and wonderful, but it really is just a vehicle for talking about all of the different areas in the liberal arts, from race relations to civility to heroes in our society. Nobody gets handed a Fresca in class. Nobody gets a free bowl of soup. And nobody has to be the ball.”

The mini-term seminar uses the classic golf film as a springboard for discussing issues such as the dangers of social-class stereotyping, the growth of American sports gambling, the advancement of catchphrases in language, and the importance of civility and etiquette. And, of course, thanks to the gopher obsession of greenskeeper Carl Spackler – played by comedian Bill Murray – the class also deals with animal rights and golf-course-based environmental conservation.

Throughout the course, students complete research papers and personal journals, reflecting on the many issues covered. The undergraduate course is among the most-popular of Lynn’s new “Dialogues of Innovation” January curriculum, which is all about creative learning through special projects, study abroad and internships.

The CaddyShack 101 class isn’t your typical formal lecture type of class, it’s an open discussion between instructor and students designed to be thought provoking and get the creative juices flowing by taking a topic or character from the movie and translating it into the “real world.”

Jason Sobel sat in a one of the classes and the debate turned to greatness in sports.

“Is it enough to just win,” Curtis queries. “Does winning make you great?”

The obvious case in question is Tiger Woods, the 71-time PGA Tour champion who was embroiled in a headline-inducing personal scandal for extramarital affairs. The students proffer their diagnoses.

“If you took any other player, it wouldn’t be big news.” … “In the sport, he’s a hero. But outside the sport, he’s a regular person.” … “Before this whole scandal, you really could have considered him a hero. He made a difference in people’s lives. People looked up to him.”

The topic leads to an in-class work assignment. Unlike other courses, though, which offer five minutes of silence or perhaps some classical music to accompany such a chore, the students are treated to their third and final “Caddyshack” reference of the day — the music video for Kenny Loggins’ movie theme, “I’m Alright.”

Below Professor Ted Curtis explains his ingenious class CaddyShack 101: Lessons from the Coolest Sports Movie Ever Made.

Where was this class when I was in school?

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