VIDEO: We played Speedgolf...
What is Speedgolf?
Speedgolf unites two of the largest athletic communities in the world, golf and running, and the aim is to complete 18 holes in your quickest time and in the fewest shots possible. Simple!
This new format is still emerging in the UK but is quickly growing in popularity. It is a fast and fun way to enjoy the sport with golfers of all abilities and skill levels taking on the challenge. So, any questions?
So is it all about pace?
Well no, actually. In fact, you don’t even have to run (although that is kind of the point!). It’s important you find the right balance between your pace – so a pace you are comfortable with – and how much focus you want to place on your golf shots. Do you want to go all out and rely on your fitness, which could then come at a cost with some, shall we say, more erratic play on the course or do you want to slow things down and hope that your accuracy will be rewarded with fewer shots? The choice is yours. Our advice? Don’t give it the full trainers; a jog is probably the easiest pace that will allow you to play half-decent golf.
But if I am a really good runner I’ve got a head start haven’t I – even if I don’t play good golf?
Hmmm, not really, you’ll soon be caught up. Playing good golf shots lies at the heart of playing Speedgolf – so if you are chopping it about you’re not going to be running very far, and probably not in the right direction...
Do you take a practice swing?
Up to you. If you feel it will help you with your next shot then go for it. But remember, the clock is ticking.
How does Speedgolf scoring work?
Your Speedgolf score is calculated by combining the time it has taken you to play your round – from the moment you tee off to when the ball drops in the cup on the 18th – and the total number of shots you have played. So, for example, let’s say you shoot 96 and you complete 18 holes in 65.17 minutes (that’s a pretty good effort, by the way!), your total Speedgolf score will be 161.17. Not too shabby…
So what’s a good score?
Well, Golf Monthly recently played a round with British Champion Luke Willett at the Springs Golf Club in Oxfordshire, and he shot 71 gross (yep, 71!) while taking just over 70 minutes to complete the course – so his score was a fraction over 140. That is a decent score! However, while playing somewhere near his best golf (with four clubs in his bag!) Willett was definitely held up with his pace playing alongside the GM double-act of Mike Harris and Alex Narey.
Ok, so what’s a really good score?
Willett is the reigning British Speedgolf champion and when he won that title in September he recorded two combined rounds of 236.16. The first of those was a score of 114.59 (37 minutes and 59 seconds, plus a 77 gross); the second was a score of 121.57 (39 minutes and 57 seconds with a gross 82). That’s proper Speedgolf!
And what’s the best score?
Scott Dawley set the world record recently in the US Speedgolf Championships, with a combined score of 107.15. That’s a 65 gross and 42.15 seconds. Lively. But be warned: Willett – dubbed the 'Iron Golfer' – is on a mission to break the 100-barrier, so we are talking a 66 gross and sub 34-minute round...
But scoring gets tougher as you play tougher courses?
Obviously. Willett won the British Championship at the same course where we ‘enjoyed’ our round (Springs in Oxfordshire). That course is pretty flat (but very nice and still a challenge). But we’d imagine knocking it round Royal County Down while it’s kicking up a storm off the Irish sea would present something of a sterner test.
What about clubs, full set right?
Don’t be silly. You can use up to seven clubs but the less, the better. Again you have to find the balance and what works for you. We used four clubs when we played, so look for an even spread through the bag.
What would you recommend?
Obviously you need your putter, and we used our driver, a mid-iron and a wedge. Great ball strikers – and seasoned Speedgolf players like Willett – don’t bother teeing the ball up so the driver is left behind.
What about a bag?
A pencil bag – or similar – is a must and most players will carry it like they are carrying a shopping bag. Anything to save a few seconds. However, you don’t have to use a bag; you can carry in your hand but we would not advise this tactic unless you are a seasoned Speedgolfer. Firstly, you’ll need deep pockets for all those balls you are likely to lose!
Can I use a caddie or a buggy?
Next question please…
Golf shoes or trainers?
Spiked golf shoes should not be worn; most players will look for a trainer-style pair. But please make sure whatever you wear, whether it’s a trainer-style shoe, shorts or t-shirt, that you are adhering to club rules.
What about lost balls. We are not running back to the tee are we?
Thankfully not. Provisional shots are a no-no. Lost balls are dropped on the line of flight with a one-stroke penalty. All other standard R&A rules apply and you will need to check the local rulings.
So if we fancy a knock, how do we play?
Well, Speedgolf is far from mainstream and is played at a course’s discretion. It’s not like you can just rock up and hare round with a load of fourballs scattered about. Our guess is you won't be waved through too often. British Speedgolf has been encouraging more clubs to offer 1st tee out early bird slots dedicated to people who want to play. Our advice? Always check with the club.
Stay away from the bacon baps before you play, keep yourself hydrated and please, if you are struggling on the course, slow down and take a breather. And remember to look after the course, take care of the greens and don’t go throwing your bag around. And don’t jump straight in; maybe play a few holes and please, always remember to warm up, and we don’t mean by hitting a hundred balls on the range eating a Mars bar. Enjoy!
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Alex began his journalism career in regional newspapers in 2001 and moved to the Press Association four years later. He spent three years working at Dennis Publishing before first joining Golf Monthly, where he was on the staff from 2008 to 2015 as the brand's managing editor, overseeing the day-to-day running of our award-winning magazine while also contributing across various digital platforms. A specialist in news and feature content, he has interviewed many of the world's top golfers and returns to Golf Monthly after a three-year stint working on the Daily Telegraph's sports desk. His current role is diverse as he undertakes a number of duties, from managing creative solutions campaigns in both digital and print to writing long-form features for the magazine. Alex has enjoyed a life-long passion for golf and currently plays to a handicap of 13 at Tylney Park Golf Club in Hampshire.
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