For the Love of Holey Moley

Distract yourself with a little extreme mini-golf

The streets are on fire. People are screaming at one another over face masks. We can’t even agree on whether or not it’s safe to leave the house. It seems like nothing can possibly bring us together. Except for maybe a show about extreme mini-golf. For one hour a week, Holey Moley on ABC and Hulu features insane water hazards, people dancing around in goofy outfits, and gopher mascots making out behind the bleachers. Rob Riggle, in a mustard-colored Wide World of Sports vest, mugs for the camera, doing a sports color guy parody that would make Fred Willard proud. There aren’t any sports on TV, not really. I’ve been getting lost in Holey Moley for 43 minutes a week. You should too.

This is Holey Moley’s second season. There are a few changes in format, but it’s still basically the same show. They filmed it before the pandemic and they seem to be dealing with weather in the show. It’s winter in the Southern California high desert, so sweatshirts and light jackets will do. But contestants still seem cold when they come out of the water.

Clearly, some of the post-production happened after the COVID curse descended. Most of the interstitial segments with NBA legend Steph Curry, who either designed the course or gave his brand to the course designers, now come in animated form. Holey Moley has also animated the plaid jacket ceremony at the end of the show, because they obviously didn’t get to film them in time. But the golf is live, and it rules.

Some of my favorite holes returned this year, like The Distractor, where golfers try to sink a putt in the face of ridiculous distractions. So far this season has featured a drum line and a group of male strippers. There’s also Dutch Courage, now renamed Double Dutch Courage, where a pair of rotating windmills hilariously bonk golfers into the water, and various other holes where they get wet or slimy.

This season has added some new lunacies, like a Frankenstein-themed one where the golfers get an electric shock when they miss a putt. That is legitimately terrifying. The hole where they have to cross a sea of fake lava while holding onto a rotating hot dog is less scary. “Hole Number 2,” where golfers have two seconds to dash across a narrow land bridge before mascots open up Porta-Potties to knock them into the water, is a little scarier.

There’s also a hilarious recurring bit where the contestants have to execute a platform dive before putting. They receive scores from three judges: the show’s gopher mascot Sir Goph, Olympic champion Greg Lougainis, and Steve Guttenberg. This is true.  Two regular shmoes go up against an Olympic diver, who always loses to them. Damn, that’s good comedy.

HOLEY MOLEY II: THE SEQUEL. Featuring Uranus. (ABC/Christopher Willard)

“Uranus” is this season’s ultimate hole.  It has a space theme but its main purpose seems to be to allow Monday Night Football play-by-play guy Joe Tessitore to make Uranus jokes. Like: “the ball has to make a complete rotation around Uranus before it goes in the hole.”

This season, the stakes are much higher. The final episode features a playoff among all the season’s winners, and the opportunity to sink a putt for $250,000. Out there, somewhere, a mini golf enthusiast has already won that prize, and is having a better quarantine than the rest of us.

I believe in social justice. I want to flatten the curve. But I also like watching stupid TV, and watching sports, and watching stupid sports on TV. Holey Moley scratches every itch. It’s harmless and hilarious. If I watch it on Hulu I can even skip the commercials about how we’re “all in this together.” By the time the season ends, basketball will be back. And maybe baseball and probably football. Once that happens, none of us will ever have to worry about anything ever again.

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Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of 12 semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. A Rotten Tomatoes certified reviewer for both film and television, Neal has written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

One thought on “For the Love of Holey Moley

  • June 19, 2020 at 1:40 am

    What happened to that finalist who could not attend for some reason so they had to replace him???


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