It is my position that Holey Moley is the nation’s finest television program. It’s something I discussed at length earlier this year in an article titled, in an attempt to keep things as straightforward as possible, “‘Holey Moley’ Is The Nation’s Finest Television Program.” I’m going to go ahead and blockquote what I said then, in part because I still stand by every word of it and in part because I have so many GIFs of insane wipeouts to show you and I do not want to waste time thinking of new sentences.
I’m aware it’s a bold claim, partially because Holey Moley is a bozo carnival of cartoon violence masquerading as a television show, sure, and partially because of the competition. There are so many other good shows out there. Very good shows. Succession is a good show that mixes humor with an in-depth examination of class and status. Better Call Saul is a good show that somehow built off of another good show (Breaking Bad) in such a magical way that it might end up eclipsing the original. Barry is a good show that features Noho Hank, a tatted-up Chechen mobster who is actually the sweetest and goofiest character on the show and my favorite character on television. All of these are terrific television shows that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys high-quality entertainment.
But did any of them dress a man in a suit of armor and light him on fire with fake dragons in the first 10 minutes of their season premiere? They did not.
It’s perfect. It’s a perfect show. It’s one hour a week of the dumbest destruction and chaos you can imagine, all of it played for laughs, with everyone on the show very much in on the joke, including the announcers, comedian Rob Riggle and actual play-by-play sports announcer Joe Tessitore, who appear to be having more fun than anyone should be allowed to have on television.
The season two finale is quickly approaching, which means I am quickly running out of opportunities to discuss the show. And so, with that in mind, mostly to get it out of my system, I have ranked the holes on the show from least to most deranged. This list starts out slow but, I promise you, it gets wild once we get into the top five or six. I can’t wait for you all to experience the joyous mayhem of Polcano. It is all I want to talk about most days. And I will get to today. I’m very happy.
But we have work to do first.
15. Beaver Creek
Let’s go straight to Wikipedia for this one: “Players putt across a narrow strip before crossing a ditch via a rapidly rotating log. Riggle often ridicules the hole for having a drab and empty ditch and for being a relative copy of Buns & Weiners.” Yup, that about covers it. You can tell Beaver Creek is not a great hole because the announcers openly mock it and because it’s only appeared three times so far in the second season. We have much better things to get to. Let’s move on.
14. Diving Range
This hole starts with three contestants in a diving competition judged by Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis, Police Academy star Steve Guttenberg, and a huge rodent named Sir Goph. The divers with the top two scores advance and then putt for the win. The big selling point here is the gradual devolving of the whole situation, as the judges become more and more manic about it. It’s fine. We can do much better. And we will.
13. Slip N’ Putt
Slip N’ Putt looks very good on paper. It’s basically just Slippery Stairs but with putting. Two contestants try to race up a slick hill to get to the top and they fail a lot and slide back down. The potential for chaos is high. And yet. And yet. The problem here is that it can get repetitive just watching them scurry and slide over and over. The people demand action. The people demand anarchy. The people demand…
12. The Distractor
… sumo wrestlers? Sure. Why not? The Distractor is all about that initial sight gag. The contestant lines up a straight put with no obstacle between the tee and the hole. Very calm, very quiet. And then the wall behind the hole spins around and reveals some sort of thing or action intended to take the contestant’s focus off the putt. In addition to huge rumbling sumo wrestlers, this hole has featured:
- A drumline
- Can-Can Girls
- A pitcher, catcher, and batter engaged in a baseball game
- A fire breather
- Australia’s Thunder from Down Under, which is kind of like an Aussie Chippendales
I sincerely hope that one day, if they do this hole in season three, the wall spins around and it’s just like Beyoncé standing there in front of a wind machine, completely silent, hair all blowing and looking like a superstar. Just a bunch of contestants like “Hold on… is that? No. No, it can’t be. Wait. No. Hold on. Is that… is that… is that Beyoncé? On Holey Moley? Just standing there, looking at me? Oh, God. Oh, God.”
Try to putt then, chumps.
11. Gopher It
There’s a simple pleasure in watching people attempt to ride a bucking and heaving mechanical gopher — like a bull, but a gopher, because why not? — for a few seconds before getting launched all the way the hell down a padded mountain. It lacks the flair of some of the other holes, which is why it’s hanging just outside the top ten, but we’re on the right track now. Things are about to get fun.
Three things you need to know about Uranus:
- It’s one of the more fun actual golfing experiences on the course, with contestants putting the ball way up and over a big fake planet and down through its rings, with the possibility of a hole in one if they land it in the correct chute
- They then have to try to leap across a series of inflatable planets to get to the actual green
- The entire thing exists so Riggle and Tessitore can make a steady string of Uranus/“your anus” jokes and I support them unreservedly in this endeavor
The GIF at the top of this section makes me laugh every time I see it. Easily the worst effort any contestant has put forth on any hole this entire season. It’s kind of inspiring, in a way.
9. Buns & Wieners
Buns & Wieners is a lot like Uranus in that, as far as I can tell, it exists mainly for the childish jokes, which, again, I, as an 8-year-old boy in the body of a fully-grown adult male, adore. It’s also funny because those hot dogs rotate and sometimes a contestant will panic and end up clutching for dear life with their legs wrapped around a giant fake hot dog and their knuckles and faces going white as they realize they’re about to be upside-down. But mostly it’s the wiener jokes. I am a child and this show is made specifically for me.
8. Water Hazard
Another simple pleasure. Contestants putt the ball up and around a huge ramp that sends their ball flying over the obstacle and onto the green, and then they have to cross the obstacle on a thin, padded log while getting blasted by a series of water cannons. That’s all. That’s all this is. And sometimes, most of the time, that’s enough. The poor guy in the GIF up there actually fell once before this, slipping and sliding with one leg on either side of the pole, bashing his jimmies straight down onto it, which the show replayed about three times from three different angles while the hosts laughed. I’m so proud of everyone involved in this show.
7. Putt the Plank
Okay, let’s go step-by-step on this hole because so many things are going on:
- The contestants hit an initial putt, the better of which will give them an advantage in stage two, which involves, I swear to God, Jon Lovitz in a pirate costume
- Jon Lovitz walks out with a lob wedge and hits the contestants’ balls over a small water hazard and onto the green
- He wears one eyepatch while hitting the ball that belongs to the contestant that hit the better putt; he wears two eyepatches while hitting the other
- Jon Lovitz has a surprisingly decent golf swing
- The contestants then leap onto a huge stuffed shark and attempt to ride it across the water
I actually have a GIF of the moment in the picture up there, but I think I like the picture better. There’s a little anticipation to it. I mean, the result is exactly the thing you’re expecting. She smashes her face real good on that shark. But sometimes it’s more fun to conjure up these images yourself. Plus, things are about to get very GIF-heavy for very important reasons and I don’t want to crash your browsers before we get to the good stuff.
6. Dragon’s Breath
The thing about this hole is that it’s all very straightforward — line up your putt, hit it toward the hole, very little in the way to stop you — except for the teeny tiny issue that you are ON FIRE WHILE YOU ARE PUTTING. Is it the most exciting hole on the course? No. Does it actually get a little boring sometimes once the initial shock value of the gimmick wears off? Yes. Does it say a lot about both this show and my attention span that a fake dragon is setting humans ablaze on a network primetime mini-golf competition and I’m like “Ugh, this again? Get to the exciting stuff.” I assume it does but I will not be doing the self-examination required to get to the bottom of it.
5. Putter Ducky
Oh, you know, just giant demonic hellducks wobbling from side-to-side and casually brushing people off of a pathway and sending them into the water below. Definitely not the most nightmare-inducing hole on the course. I’ve never had a nightmare about giant demonic hellducks like this, monstrous dead-eyes children’s bath toys come to life for the sole purpose of wreaking havoc on the innocent souls who approach them. Not even one. It’s fine. I’m doing fine.
I promise everything I’m about to tell you here is true. This hole starts with the players getting electrodes placed on their limbs. Then, every time they miss a putt, a man in a gopher costume — who is dressed like a mad scientist and goes by Dr. Frankenputt — throws a giant lever that causes streaks of lightning to fly around before the contestants are given an electric shock through the electrodes on their limbs. Again, after every missed putt.
I understand that the PGA Tour cannot adopt every aspect of Holey Moley and insert them into their standard golf tournaments (although water cannons couldn’t hurt), but I do think The Masters would be a lot more interesting if a giant evil scientist gopher tased Phil Mickelson after he slid an important final round putt just left of the hole. Something to consider.
3. Hole Number Two
Hole Number Two has the best of both worlds: childish puns and lunatic misadventure. The contestants putt their ball down a narrow strip of fake grass toward the hole. The narrow strip has a row of portable toilets on one side and a steep drop into the water on the other, which is notable for three reasons:
- The contestants must then sprint down the same narrow strip of grass
- As they are sprinting, the doors of the portable toilets are flung open by people in what appear to be — for reasons that have never been and should never be fully explained — people in cheap Halloween-store-in-strip-mall monster costumes
- A staggering number of contestant take these doors straight to the face and go tumbling into the water in a whirling jumble of arms and legs
The lady in the GIF up there is wearing a cocktail dress because she was on a Bachelor-themed episode of the show. It was a solid hour of dudes in tuxedos and women in nice sparkly dresses just getting walloped by every demonic funhouse creation you can think of. It was mesmerizing television. And this isn’t even my favorite example from this hole. That honor goes to this guy.
You ever see a guy on the street who has on a backward visor and has the general vibe of a person who calls his girlfriend “dude” and start thinking to yourself “Man, I would love to see that guy get bonked real good with the door to a portable toilet and sent flying fully clothed into a body of water?” No? Hmm. I suppose that’s understandable, if only because you might not have considered it an option. Well, guess what: You will now! And then you’ll remember this payoff and feel great about it.
Holey Moley is cathartic like that.
2. Double Dutch Courage
No hole on the course goes above and beyond your expectations quite like Double Dutch Courage. “It’s just windmills,” you say. “All you have to do is putt the ball down a long straight path and then run between the blades. How hard can it be?”
This is where the producers of the show are basically supervillains, though. They added a blade to the windmill from the first season and appear to have speeded it up, with the result being an almost undefeated obstacle. Like, two or three people have made it through safely all season. Everyone else gets wiped right off of terra firma. I could watch the GIF at the top of this section for hours straight. I think I have, to be honest. It’s just such a clean hit, catching her elevated and knocking her halfway out of the frame. You could see it coming, too, the way she was kind of standing there trying to time it. I was so excited and I was not let down even a little.
There’s also this one, in which a very nice woman fails so miserably that I started to feel bad for her until I saw the hosts’ reactions. Then I started cackling.
This is a pretty good metaphor for 2020, generally. Failure so quick and complete that success was never on the table, not even at the beginning, not even for a second. It also brings up an important point about the show: After an episode or two, you start getting conditioned to expect disaster, to a degree that it’s kind of a bummer when someone successfully navigates an obstacle. You’ve never met these people and most of them seem nice and you’re still at home frothing at the mouth and praying they get absolutely clobbered by whatever satanic experiment is in front of them. It would be disturbing if I thought about it for more than 90 seconds, which I refuse to do under any circumstance. I’m just here for the clobbering.
The statement “Polcano is the best hole on Holey Moley” is both objectively true and a massive understatement. Polcano is so much more than that. It is the most riveting slice of television this year has to offer. It is fascinating. It is wondrous. It has, for some reason that we can probably file under “because Holey Moley is a delightful carnival of madness,” fireballs shooting into the night sky. It might result in a serious injury one of these days, but until then, we should just keep enjoying it. I’m going to explain it a bit here, but please feel free to disregard all of these words and just enjoy the GIF above this paragraph sans context if you prefer. You deserve it.
Here’s the thing about Polcano: it has everything you could possibly ask for. The first putt involves hitting the ball up a huge hill and then watching it trickle back down through a maze of rocks in a way that loosely mimics the best Price Is Right game, Plinko. Then they climb up to the top of a fake volcano, grab two handles connected to a hydraulically-powered zip line, and are sent screaming towards a large pole in the middle of a swimming pool. They are supposed to try to grab the pole and hold on. This almost never happens. No more than three people have completed this successfully. Usually, the whole operation ends with someone bonking off the pole at a high rate of speed and twisting and flipping and flailing as their body tumbles into the water.
Here’s a guy doing it while wearing a shirt and visor covered in images of $100 bills. I like the little nod he does first, like, “I got this, for sure.” Then the visor goes flying along with the rest of him.
Here’s an amateur kickboxer named Mallory getting just rocked by the whole thing, white sneakers pointing toward the heavens and torso barreling hopelessly toward the abyss.
Perhaps the more perceptive among you noticed something in this last example. Perhaps you noticed that the contestant in red pants and black halter top, Mallory the Kickboxer, is the same person from the first GIF I posted from the windmill hole. This brings us to two very important points:
- Mallory got wrecked — just destroyed — by all of the top three holes on this list in the three rounds of the competition (an unprecedented development in the history of the show), and, somehow, she still managed to win her episode and advance to this season finale, where she has a chance to earn $250,000
- In another episode, a musician named Donald successively navigated Uranus, Polcano, and Double Dutch Courage without falling into the water (also an unprecedented development in the history of the show and one of the greatest feats of athleticism I have ever seen), and he still lost because his opponent hit a walk-off hole-in-one on the final hole
I repeat: Holey Moley is our nation’s finest television program.