With Holey Moley (ABC Thursday at 8pm ET or on Hulu) on a week’s break for the July 4th holiday in the United States, I decided to give a quick review of the show so far. There are two caveats: 1) I can’t divulge too much about my own participation on the show because my episode has not yet aired and 2) I will be slightly biased since I’m involved with the show.
After seeing how they are producing the show beyond just the premiere, I’m pretty happy. It’s solid summer entertainment that doesn’t try to overcomplicate things. The production value is really good including how holes and players are frames. I also enjoy the Steph Curry bits as it adds the right amount of celebrity levity to the proceedings. The premiere was a little light on showing the actual golf and some of the backstory because of some of the other “series kick-off” bits they needed to have but the second episode got a little more into that. I do think there could be even more of the golf but when you understand there’s only 44 minutes to show 10 matches, plus get into the characters, time is quite limited. You can’t cut the character time because that’s what’s going to keep the momentum of this show for the season given the holes themselves don’t change. While everyone likes seeing someone get crushed by the windmill or fall spectacularly down a slide or into the water, that can get stale quickly. One also had to be realistic in that the Steph Curry time isn’t going to be cut much either given he’s the star/backer of the show.
The other negative comment I’ve heard a lot is that “it’s not minigolf” or “that’s not competitive minigolf.” On the second point, despite the fact that the advertisement does talk about the “best miniature golfers in the country”, the show was never meant to be a minigolf tournament like us competitive folks play. It’s just a bit of advertisement since saying “we picked 12 random people to play minigolf” doesn’t exactly sell the show as well. In addition, you can’t have all “pros” on the show either because a) that would be boring and b) you want to show that minigolf is a sport that can be won by anyone – and yes that includes “real” minigolf tournaments. On the first point, it’s a 100% minigolf as the sport is known to millions of people on an everyday basis. It has fun obstacles, is colorful, people are having fun playing it and it’s a bit silly at the end of the day. There’s a reason the Putting Penguin loves such over-the-top courses like those in Myrtle Beach or Orlando over the more technically challenging, but frankly a little boring, adventure-style tournament courses. Because that’s what the average person who engages with minigolf loves. The small percentage of us who take it seriously have to remember that at the end of the day, because if we try to transform the sport too much we’ll lose a large reason why people love it.
Regardless of your feelings on the show, the best part of Holey Moley is the exposure of miniature golf on a national stage. The ratings were extremely good for the first week and have stayed strong for week 2, to the point where it was the highest summer premiere for ABC in some time. This has two direct impacts: 1) people are talking about minigolf and we’ve seen an uptick in interest for tournaments, leagues, etc from talking to some connected folks and 2) people in the industry are talking about the success which could lead to more miniature golf on television in the future.
Those are the exact reasons why I wanted to be on the show. As I’ve developed my connection to the sport over the years, one of the things I’ve always wanted to do is anything related to minigolf to help show how much this sport can be flexible. That’s why I’ve played in libraries and bars, played on high-tech crazy courses and low-tech homemade courses in backyards, and now played a hole where I had to battle a slippery slope to get to the tee (no spoiler – you can see me in the trailer at 1:16). I can’t think of any other sport that is that flexible in terms of how it’s used and one that has been played at least once by so many people. Holey Moley succeeds in tapping into that aspect of miniature golf and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings!
Note: for my international friends, I’m still not sure on officially how this show is going to be shown outside the U.S. However, I do know there’s a fair amount of content on YouTube right now that you can check out.
The views expressed in this blog are solely the views of the writer and do not represent the World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF), Minigolfnews.com or any other organization that the writer may be associated with unless expressly stated in the blog.