When I heard about “Holey Moley,” an ABC program that is a miniature golf competition, I was underwhelmed. Prime-time putt-putt? To quote Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler: “Really?”
Then I saw the audience stats for last month’s first episode: 10 million multi-platform viewers for the 8 p.m. Thursday premiere, a Sunday rerun and digital fans.
So I tuned in. And holey moley, I liked it!
Each week, 12 competitors vie for $25,000, a “golden” putter and a butt-ugly green plaid jacket. They play on an “extreme” mini-golf course. Hit a ball through a windmill, then try to run through the windmill. Or sink a putt while Kenny G plays sax right in your face.
But the best part of the show is not the course action. It’s the color commentators, who perfectly parody the hushed solemnity of TV golf experts. Comedian and “Daily Show” alumnus Rob Riggle opines that a player wearing a fanny pack “has gotta be disqualified simply for that.” When a windmill blade body-slams a contestant and knocks her into a patch of giant tulips, Joe Tessitore, an actual ABC sportscaster, says, “I pray her son isn’t watching this.”
Adding to the absurdity is basketball superstar Stephen Curry, the show’s executive producer, who offers insights from time to time. Clad in a smoking jacket, he says, “I dreamed of being the resident golf pro at an extreme mini-golf course competition on ABC. People told me that’s never going to happen. Well, look at me now.”
The show’s ridiculousness makes it fun to watch in the same way that it’s fun to play an over-the-top mini-golf course. Some contestants embrace the nuttiness, like Jared, who wears a unicorn costume … just … because. Others are practically in tears when they miss a shot. We can all identify with their pain because who hasn’t been stymied by mini-golf?
The matches are heavily edited, so it’s more like “scenes from a competition” than a putt-by-putt chronicle. But who cares when you get to hear the deadpan Riggle deliver lines like, “A little rule I like to follow is don’t use your face to break a fall”?