REVIEW | Seven’s HOLEY MOLEY is big, brash, and a little bit broken


Part-It’s A Knockout, part Putt-Putt, Seven’s new reality franchise brings a whole lotta fun…if you can last the distance.

For those that poo-poo the idea that mini golf is a good time straight off the top you know you won’t enjoy Holey Moley. In fact, if more mini golf courses were like this there would probably be more interest (and more injuries).

Holey Moley Australia (image – Paul A. Broben)

Gaudy, oversized sets around and within the holes scream YOU WILL HAVE A GOOD TIME (if your retinas don’t burn out first) and it’s obvious the competitors are having just that. It’s got an oversized fibreglass shark circling in a pool, there’s a lube-covered “snow” mountain to climb, and a hole simply called ‘Uranus’ (BYO entendres).

While it’s claimed recent network re-defector Sonia Kruger is the host of the show, it’s commentators Matt “Shirvo” Shirvington and US comedian Rob “Rob” Riggle that hold court and keep the show rolling (so to speak). In the single preview episode available Kruger is sidelined to introduce a couple of holes and not much else. Add to that all the hoopla around Greg Norman‘s involvement appears overblown as you only get to see the Great White Shark for a grand total of 20 seconds across the entire 90 minutes (with ads). Norman literally gets mentioned more frequently than he appears in his ageing, COVID-affected flesh.

The hook of Holey Moley is it’s not just “hit the ball in the hole” though. Contestants all come with some skill, and if they’re smart some kind of audience hook (thank you so much, Vincent van Golf) however aren’t the greatest TV talent. Just as well they can hit a small white ball.

In every episode they’re all competing for their picture on the wall, the plaid jacket, and a place in the final to play off for $100,000, and will have to navigate a number of brutal challenges, including dodging windmill blades, jumping across planets, and navigating an insanely-oversized rotisserie and more, and if you land in the water or fall off the course you’ll take a one-shot penalty which could see you eliminated.

It’s the final hole that is the most diabolical, subjecting the penultimate putters to a straight shot and “The Distractor” – a wall that spins around to reveal something to put them off their game. Distractions include muscle-bound men competing in a wrestling match, a Maori group performing the haka, or 80’s one-hit wonder Joe Dolce performing “Shaddup You Face”.

Whatsamadda you, indeed.

Those throwback Seven Sport jackets from the 1980’s hit the spot alright.

There’s also random celebrities scattered throughout the course to interact with you and help or handicap, like resurgent puppet Agro or former reality show judge Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson. There’s still some question as to how much of the now infamous Denise Drysdale incident will appear in the final cut.

The major issue for Holey Moley is the editing. The preview episode ran just over 60 minutes with no ads, which when delivered to linear broadcast TV will land as minimum 90 minutes to audiences and that’s just too long.

There’s too much repetition, too much padding, too much repetition, and too many replays of incidents/competition. The entire thing needs to take a mulligan and try again. Additionally, the lack of atmosphere in the preview episode made the entire thing feel too sterile. The crowd noise is buried in the background of the audio, isolating the competition so that it feels like it could have been filmed in the studio rather than the large outdoor arena in Brisbane’s Redlands district it called home. When you do see a shot of the ‘crowd’ it’s not massive–perhaps the curse of filming into the very early morning.

Agro makes a showing in HOLEY MOLEY AUSTRALIA (image – Paul A. Broben/Seven)

The saving grace, if you can push through the episodic commitment, is Riggle’s commentary. He’s the star of the US version and while Shirvington does his best to keep up he’s no comparison to Joe Tessitore who runs the play-by-play as the perfect straight man to Riggle’s joker. In this Australian version the opener with Riggle will set you up for exactly what you’re in for, so if that doesn’t light your fire best change the channel before the golf dribbles out.

Holey Moley is a very simple, family-fun program (someone may need to explain the Uranus jokes…or not) that drags on for way too long. It’s easy viewing, if a bit hit and miss. Seven sneaks a par with this one.

HOLEY MOLEY launches 7:30pm Monday 1 February on Seven.

Steve Molk
Steve Molk is sharply focused on the business of TV in Australia across all its formats - FTA broadcast, commercial, subscription, catch up & SVOD. Based on the Central Coast of NSW he's a passionate advocate for Australian-made programming, particularly drama and comedy. He loves podcasting, gaming & watching too much TV. For all media enquiries please call or text 0401-709-405



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