Golf It helps to be a golfer to understand what's funny about this quirky Off Broadway musical comedy

December 01, 2003

The opening number of the new Off Broadway show Golf includes the
lyric, "Why a show about golf?" Having taken in the opening-night
performance on Nov. 19, we're still not entirely sure. Conceived
by Eric Krebs, producer of the Tony Award-nominated Bill Maher:
Victory Begins at Home, and written by Michael Roberts, the
two-hour production is an ambitious journey across the game's
history, chronicling everything from the creation of the Rules of
Golf in 1744 to the ascension of Tiger Woods. Much of what
Roberts has assembled is quite forgettable, but there are a few
gems among the ephemera.

"Basically there are nine golf jokes out there that we used in
variations," says Roberts, who did research for the comedy's 18
songs by watching golf telecasts and reading magazines about the
sport. "We're not theater people talking down to golfers. We're
golfers working in the theater." Roberts adds that three of the
four cast members are avid golfers. It certainly helps to be a
player or a fan to decipher the onslaught of in-jokes, but the
humor is broad enough to amuse nongolfers.

One of the most inspired numbers has Tiger Woods being celebrated
at a Gospel revival meeting, where his picture has been nailed to
a cross: "Who is the closest to divine?/Tiger Woods!/Who can
dominate the whole back nine?/Tiger Woods!/Some folks might find
this odd/But he may be the Son of God/Oooooh, Tiger Woods!"

Later, a thinly veiled Hootie Johnson appears, looking over
membership applications at a private club in a song entitled No
Blacks, No Chicks, No Jews. Hootie sings, "Tell me, what does the
rule book say?/You must be a white, Christian man/Oops! Dems the
rules for joining the Klan." Annika Sorenstam also makes a cameo,
played by Trisha Rapier, who is a dead ringer for a young Carol
Burnett, crooning, "I'm a great lady golfer, but nobody knows my
name."

In the second act the show gets interactive as the audience
members are called upon to take part in a putting contest, with
prizes. There is also a scene in which one of the cast members
hits wads of paper into the crowd with a five-iron--the closest
golf gets to a Gallagher concert.

The closing song goes, "There is not much weirder/Than golf in
the theater." We're tempted to agree, but Krebs and Roberts may
have a topper--they're cooking up a musical revue on extreme
sports. --Farrell Evans

Golf is playing at the John Houseman Theater at 10th Avenue and
42nd Street.

COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL SUGRUE HIGH NOTE Golf's game foursome skewers Tiger and Hootie.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)