Unfiltered Friday: Holey Moley Isn't Supposed to Make Golf Cool

Last night marked the premier of Holey Moley, a new prime time game show on ABC where contestants “play” mini-golf on a course that features peril, obstacles, and laughs. NBA superstar and scratch golfer Steph Curry is an executive producer, and Callaway Golf — at least from an equipment standpoint — appears to be attached.

What followed was an hour full of absurdity, including over-the-top reactions from “contestants” who were clearly actors in on the joke. Co-hosted by comedian Rob Riggle, the color commentary was insanely corny and slapstick, fitting nicely into the network prime time slot it was allowed.

Overall, Holey Moley was terrible. It was cringeworthy at moments. It was only tangentially related to the sport of golf, and who knows if prizes were actually awarded.

And my wife and I watched every minute of it.

Holey Moley is Not a Golf Show

Admittedly, sitting down to watch Holey Moley was something I didn’t have to do, but I felt compelled to nevertheless. A pessimist at heart, I went in with the lowest expectations… and a fair amount of snark. After all, the incredibly bad Shotmakers competition show is still fresh in all our minds. Would this be a repeat?

After watching the first 15 minutes, which included introductions to a man dressed in a unicorn onesie and a lumberjack with braces, I suddenly realized this show was not meant to be taken seriously. Like, at all.

Here's a secret: I used to watch pro wrestling religiously. Way past childhood, and even today I find myself throwing on Monday Night Raw every so often. The characters and fake drama have made that industry what it’s been for decades, and fans of sports entertainment still remember their heroes in the squared circle.

#JusticeForBretHart

Shifting my expectations literally in the middle of the Holey Moley premier did something: it made me enjoy the show so much more. It also allowed me to understand that this was not an attempt to do anything other than entertain… and most certainly not to grow the game.

And that’s OK.

This Was Not an Attempt to Grow the Game

I feel something has been lost in translation over the years as we all preach the importance of “growing the game.”

On one hand, golf purists and progressives alike want to see more participation. Perhaps this is some innate desire to show how cool we are, which can only be validated by the opinion of others. It might be driven by good, old-fashioned business needs in terms of revenue, but multiple reports from the largest OEMs have showed positive growth over the years.

But here’s the truth: everybody wants more people to play golf… as long as it doesn’t delay their tee time.

I guarantee if you go to the closest golf course right now and ask any foursome how they’d feel if every tee time was booked and the parking lot was full, they’d roll their eyes in annoyance. Hell, I know I would. To be at a packed golf course is to be inconvenienced, and nobody wants to spend seven hours at a local muni.

We all want to grow the game, just as long as the course down the street is doing it.

My assumption is the creators of Holey Moley wanted to avoid this hypocrisy altogether. Instead, a group of famous golf fans wanted to create something silly, stupid and fun that uses golf as its foundation. If a few viewers watch the show and suddenly want to hit the links, then so be it. But that’s not the goal.

There is no need to change the way the game is played — at least not to the extreme of including ziplines over lakes — to make it more appealing to a demographic. Stop trying to make golf “cool.” It’s already cool. Don’t believe me? Look at this photo and tell me that man isn’t the coolest fucking guy you’ve ever seen.

Arnold Palmer is cooler than you’ll ever be.

Arnold Palmer is cooler than you’ll ever be.

Not convinced? Here’s another one, this time with help from a friend.

Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer

Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer

Need something a little less stuffy and a little more modern? How about something that stretches well beyond the golf course? Better yet, how about two millennials who finally put down their damn smartphones for five minutes?

US Open champion Gary Woodland and his friend, Amy Bockerstette. (Golfweek)

US Open champion Gary Woodland and his friend, Amy Bockerstette. (Golfweek)

Shows like Holey Moley aren’t going to make golf cool. Golf is already cool and has been for years. The game might not attract everybody on the planet, but as long as everyone has the same opportunity to try, that’s all we should realistically want.