vulture sports

Holey Moley’s Surrealist Mini-Golf Is the Only Sport We Have Left

Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

In this era of self-isolation, when it feels as though the traditional rules of society have flown out the window, and when team sports wouldn’t adequately reflect our loneliness even if they weren’t all canceled, we need a sport that speaks to our moment. One that does not adhere to laws of nature; one that isn’t live, but filmed in advance; one where contestants find themselves feeling microscopically small, fighting for survival in a harsh and absurd environment that’s out to get them; one that appears to take place in a dark, placeless, endless void, illuminated by harsh floodlights and occasionally visited by NBA All-Star Stephen Curry in a helicopter.

That sport exists, and it’s called Holey Moley.

The extreme mini-golf series premiered on ABC last summer, featuring extensive appearances by Curry and color commentary by turtleneck-clad announcers Rob Riggle and Joe Tessitore. It requires contestants — self-proclaimed “mini-golf enthusiasts” — to putt their way through increasingly bonkers, larger-than-life courses to win a spot in the $250,000 grand finale. It’s funny. It’s wacky. It features volcano zip lines, steep slip ’n slides, Kenny G obstacle courses, and Wipeout! level wipeouts. And it’s returning for a second season, called Holey Moley II: The Sequel, on May 21. We got an exclusive look at the newest holes, which just like last season, seem as though designed by a malicious and powerful God who just wishes to make puny humans squirm like ants. Here is your first look at the newest holes, because this is what sports is now.

Double Dutch Courage

Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

Like last year’s “Dutch Courage,” doubled. Now, there are drawbridges, moats, and the very real possibility of getting knocked into a pond. Don Quixote was right to want to fight these assholes.

Putter Ducky

Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

Putters have to duck the giant swinging ducks or end up in the sudsy tub. The hole is on a big bar of soap. This hole feels very of-the-moment: If you’re not getting knocked over by a massive swinging rubber duck and plunged full force into a tub of suds, you are not washing your hands right.


Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

Weeeeee! This slippery icy mountain level is actually a holdover from Holey Moley season one. So when a golf tournament is called a “Classic,” this is what I envision.


Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

This one is cruel and unusual: Contestants will be administered electric shocks every time the ball doesn’t make it in the hole. Moats and inflatables are one thing, but why do shows do this? It’s never fun to watch! I get no joy from seeing people undergo actual pain, just goofy slapstick pain.

Buns & Wieners

Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

Back to the wacky inflatables. This hole is an “enormous barbecue” that putters navigate across big ol’ rotisserie weenies. Nothing Freudian here.

Hole Number Two

Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

After the contestants putt their ball to the other side — because this is, ostensibly, still mini-golf — they have to run past 30 feet of “Porta Putty’s” (hee-hee) without one of their doors opening and smacking them into, yep, more water. More and more, this show seems like an idea that Todd would come up with on BoJack Horseman.


Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

Get it? Because holes. In this one, the golfer putts their ball through Uranus’s rings while they hop over the other planets to get to the hole. This level technically classifies as sci-fi: It’s speculative fiction that asks, What if someone fell into a bunch of water? (By that standard, half of these levels are speculative fiction, too.)


Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

What I would give to watch someone putt a golf ball into a volcano’s lava hole, grasp onto a zip line where the handle is a golf club, land on a pole, and get rowed ashore to a tiki-themed finale. If all sports had a zip line element, I’d watch a lot more sports.

Putt the Plank

Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

Putters face off against “the Holey Moley pirate” and then leap onto a moving shark, in a level that can only be a meta-commentary about the arbitrary and archaic sets of rules and artificial obstacles that make up mainstream sports. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an obscure “shark clause” in the official MLB rulebook.

Gopher It

Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

In which golfers ride atop a mechanical gopher named “Sir Goph.”

Dragon’s Breath

Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC/

From the press release: “Golfers will be dressed as knights concealing their fireproof suits” while they are pummeled with real fire.

Beaver Creek

Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC

That’s some dam fine putting.

Holey Moley’s Surrealist Mini-Golf Has a Brand-New Course