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Valley Stream woman competes on mini-golf show

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For Marlene Roff Glass, it was a happy accident that she was cast to compete on ABC’s “Holey Moley,” an extreme miniature-golf show that pits golf and mini-golf enthusiasts against one another in a series of stunts for a chance to win a golden putter, a plaid jacket and $25,000.

The 61-year-old Valley Streamer said that her sister, Audrey Rubino, saw an online casting call for the show, and asked Glass whether she should send it to their nephew Joseph Roff, who’s an avid golfer. Glass responded that it would be a great idea for him to audition.

But when he did, the casting directors asked him whether he had any friends or relatives who would also be interested in competing, making Roff think that it was a team show. Immediately, Glass came to mind, he said, thinking back to all the times she took him mini-golfing when he visited her. Roff suggested that the casting people contact her, and he called Glass, excited about the news.

“I said, ‘I’m not a good a golfer,’” Glass recalled telling Roff, but she agreed to help him anyway.

Then, one day late last fall, while Glass was shopping with her sister at the King Kullen on Merrick Road, she got a call from the casting directors. They asked if she had time for a quick Skype interview, prompting Glass to stop what she was doing and allow Rubino to finish with the groceries, while she ran to her sister’s house for the interview.

“That’s when I found out it wasn’t a family show,” Glass said. “They said anyone could be on the show.”

At her age, however — and as a three-time cancer survivor — Glass wasn’t sure. She asked how she would be able to do all the stunts.

She was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease, a lymphatic cancer, in 1985 and had the tumor — which was, ironically, the size of a golf ball — removed in 1985. The radiation that doctors used at the time, however, led to further problems. In 1996 she had to have a pacemaker installed, and discovered that she could no longer have children.

She and her husband, Alan, then thought about adopting children, but in 2002 Marlene was once again diagnosed with breast cancer, and “didn’t want to adopt a child when I didn’t know what was happening with me.” Then, a few years later, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and has since had trouble swallowing.

That, however, along with the fact that she is a songwriter, only made the producers more interested in having her on the show. So, while she was on vacation with Alan at the end of March, she got a call from the producers saying that they wanted to fly her to California for the show, and asking if she could write a song about the experience. She did, and “I’m Gonna Bounce” was born (see box).

“I’m so glad she was picked,” Roff said. “She’s just incredible, so it’s really motivational to see her out there doing that kind of thing.”

Once she landed in Burbank, Calif., on April 2, she said she almost lost her lucky Yankee putter, and then tried for 20 minutes to summon an Uber, until she gave up and called a taxi to take her to the Hyatt Regency in Valencia. From there, she said, she and the other contestants were driven to the set, but had to wait for nightfall for the competition to begin.

Once it did, Glass met the show’s “resident golf pro,” Golden State Warrior star Stephen Curry. The cast asked her what she thought of him, and she replied, “He seems like a great guy, but I’m a Knicks fan.”

“I’m a New Yawka,” she explained in the accent most closely associated with Brooklyn, where she was born.

She also said she “met a lot of interesting people,” like former PGA golfers and miniature golf champions, and had a great time on the show.

“It was an accident that wasn’t planned,” Glass said, “but it turned out fine because it was a great experience.”

The episode aired on ABC on July 11. It can be seen at www.abc.go.com or on demand.