This show is much better and funnier than it sounds from its description, mainly because it has a sense of humor about its odd choice of subject matter. The opening song acknowledges that a musical about golf seems like an unexciting prospect, then list its top ten reasons for doing it anyway (reason #1 being, “Ball jokes…lots and lots of ball jokes”).
The show is incredibly slight, a plotless revue full of light comedy songs about a silly subject, but it is also incredibly well-executed for what it is, working beyond the material and coming up with a surprisingly varied and creative set of songs. Among the many hilarious items in the score are “The Golfer’s Psalm” (“the lord is my caddy”); the bluesy lament “A Great Lady Golfer”; the double-meaning pile-on “My Husband Is Playing Around”; the outrageous “No Blacks, No Chicks, No Jews”; the political satire “Presidents and Golf”; and a sketch/song featuring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope golfing in the afterlife called “The Road To Heaven”. There’s even a genuinely lovely ballad about miniature golf, and no, I didn’t think you could write a ballad about that either, but they pull it off.
Granted, there’s also some weaker material, like the uninspired “That’s How You Play Golf” or the heavy-handed “Golf’s Such a Naughty Game” (turns out “lots and lots of ball jokes” get old faster than you’d think), but there’s more than enough good stuff to compensate for the occasional duds. I can understand why this show is so popular, and it is certainly amazingly popular for a little off-Broadway novelty show, to the point of having played 50 different countries and become a quiet little international sensation.
Granted, its greatest success seems to have been in places like Scotland where the sport that forms its subject is particularly popular, but you don’t have to know a thing about the sport to find this material funny…I hate sports and have never played a game a golf in my entire life, and I laughed my ass off preparing this review. And I’m willing to bet most of you, regardless of your degree of interest in the titular sport, will be surprised by how much you enjoy this score, so I highly recommend it to golf followers and dedicated non-fans alike.