The Need for Speed – Speedgolf

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Speedgolf

Speedgolf 2018 winners

For a long time, golf has been regarded as a slow-paced game with a lot of rules and time to invest in a  single round. Enter Speedgolf—an organization and a tournament that attempts to address this perception by introducing the element of speed. The endeavor is to make golf quicker, interesting and challenging for the competitors, all at the same time.
Speedgolf competitors compete in an 18-hole tournament that lasts about an hour. Scores are calculated by combining a player’s strokes and elapsed time. The player with the lowest score wins. Competitors are required to carry all their equipment during the tournament usually consisting of between four and six clubs in a lightweight bag.

Their vision is to “develop the sport of speedgolf for Olympic consideration within the next 20 years.” An ambitious aim certainly, considering traditional golf only recently made its way back to the Olympics as of Rio 2016, after a 100-year hiatus.

Excerpts from a conversation with Scott Dawley, Founder, SpeedGolf USA.

Scott Dawley

Scott Dawley, Founder, Speedgolf USA

A native of Houston, Scott Dawley founded Speedgolf USA in 2016 and is the 12th-ranked Speedgolfer in the world. Innovation, passion, and well-being are his core principles and it reflects in the successful ventures he founded or has been associated with in the past, such as The Pace of Change Golf Podcast, LinksRun, Speedgolf International and more—all dedicated to golf, with a common message of making the game faster, making people fit, and solving the issue of high green fees.

GDI: How did you come up with the idea and how do you see it growing in future? Any tournaments that you have planned…
Speedgolf was started by American mile runner Steve Scott in the late 1970’s. The modern era of the sport began in 2012 when the inaugural Speedgolf World Championships was held at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon, USA.

Speedgolf has seen slow and steady growth over the last 5 years both in numbers of players and numbers of competitions worldwide. A good example of growth would be the formation of the International Speedgolf Alliance (ISGA) in January 2018.

The ISGA founding members are Speedgolf USA, British Speedgolf, Speedgolf Australia, Speedgolf New Zealand, and Speedgolf Japan. At the world championships in October 2018, the ISGA inducted its first new member: Speedgolf Finland.

The ISGA’s vision is to develop the sport of speedgolf for Olympic consideration within 20 years.

The ISGA will be releasing the 2019 World Tour Schedule online at playspeedgolf.com. Each national speedgolf organization also has a 2019 tournament schedule for events within their country.

GDI: How was the experience organising the event and how was the support and response?

The goal and challenge in organizing the world championships in the USA this year was having to simultaneously organize the US National Championships, which were held two days prior to the world championships. In addition, we made the decision to inaugurate the first speedgolf team championship on the global stage, which happened the day after the world championships.

One of the inspiring things about the world championships this year was that we did not have a major tournament sponsor. In spite of the lack of resources or a significant prize purse, we attracted a world-class global field with players from 8 countries and 19 US States represented. The support of the community is what made the tournament possible.

GDI: Any plans on organising speedgolf in India?
There has been some interest from India and we are looking forward to assisting speedgolf in India, however, we can, with the aim of India becoming a member of the International Speedgolf Alliance in the future. It would be amazing to see India represented in future major speedgolf tournaments as well as India hosting their own tournaments.

Meet Mikko Rantanen, 2018 Speedgolf World Champion (Men’s Division)

Mikko Rantanen

Mikko Rantanen

Mikko Rantanen is a Finnish golfer and Business Development Director at Golf GameBook—a golf scoring app and golf community with live scoring, game statistics and GPS course planner.
In just his second appearance at the world championships, Rantanen captured the gold—his first time on the podium—with a score of 126:28, 71 golf shots in 55 minutes 28 seconds. He ran 5.4 miles (approx. 8.7km) and it also made him the fastest golfer on earth. Certain sections even affectionately referred to him as the ‘Flying Finn’.

“It was my first competitive speedgolf round that I have played under par. And to do that in world championships is just amazing,” he was quoted as saying at the time. Rantanen also made history—becoming the first player ever to play under par in the world championships.

GDI: How long have you been playing this format? How do you enjoy it compared to a regular round?

I started playing speedgolf in 2015, first casually and then in October 2016 took part my first speedgolf tournament which was the 2016 Speedgolf World Championship in Chicago. In 2017-18 I’ve been organising a Speedgolf Tour here in Finland (5 tournaments and a National Championship) and playing competitive speedgolf since.
Speedgolf is a great way to improve my overall fitness level; it allows me to play more golf because regular golf takes too long, and it also brings a new dimension and challenge to the game, which I really enjoy. I believe it has also helped to play better regular golf.

GDI: Your practice regimen?

During summer, I play two-three rounds of speedgolf each week and do some interval running training as well as long distance training. We organised a speedgolf triathlon and a speedgolf marathon this year, which were tough events and helped get fit. The triathlon was a combination of playing golf on mountain bikes on the front 9, swimming across a bay to reach the back 9, where we played regular speedgolf running. The marathon was simply playing speedgolf covering a running distance of a marathon (42.2 km), which meant five rounds of golf for me and my partner.

GDI: Any suggestions or tips for upcoming speedgolfers?

If you want to improve your fitness level, play more golf and play better golf, you should try speedgolf. First  you need to get out on the course and give it a try—early in the morning or late in the evening when there are no players in front. Take a pencil or junior bag with six clubs (for example driver or a 3 wood, irons 5, 7, 9 and sand wedge and a putter) and aim for 90 minutes by jogging from the tee to fairway and to the green, walk around the greens. Use running or trail running shoes rather that golf shoes. In speedgolf you don’t remove the flag stick and in case you lose a ball or hit it OB, drop it on the line of flight. Keep your routines quick, but don’t take practice swings or spend time reading putts. Just look, react and trust your instincts. You’ll be surprised by how well you can play. Enjoy the challenge!

Lauren Cupp

Lauren Cupp

Meet Lauren Cupp – 2018 Speedgolf World Champion (Women’s Division)
Lauren Cupp is Head Coach of the men’s and women’s golf teams at Hamilton College. She retained her title as women’s champion at the U.S. Speedgolf Open held at Rome Country Club on October 13 in Rome, N.Y. shooting an 84 in 54 minutes.

GDI: How long have you been playing this format? How do you enjoy it compared to a regular round?

I’ve been playing “slow” golf for most of my life and picked up speedgolf about four years ago. I still enjoy playing competitive regular golf but feel that speedgolf suits my lifestyle better at this point. I’m able to raise a young family and work while getting in both a work out and 18 holes of golf in under an hour!

GDI: Your practice regimen?

Play golf, run and play speedgolf! It certainly
is a learned skill to be able to perform when your heart is beating out of your chest.

GDI: Any suggestion or tips for upcoming speedgolfers?

Speedgolf can be played at any level. Try playing golf faster. You’ll be surprised! A few things speedgolf has taught me that I have applied to my regular golf game:

  •  It’s not always advantageous to overthink
  • Long pre-shot routines are not necessary
  • There are many different types of shots that you can hit with the same clubs
  • You don’t always have to hit the “perfect shot”; there is something to be said about keeping the ball in play and hitting fairways and greens

Read more in our December edition.

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