We’ve had GolfSixes and SPRINT6Golf but how far would you go to end the drudgery of five-hour rounds?
Slow play is on the agenda more than ever before, with the European Tour looking at quicker formats designed to attract a younger audience, 9-hole competitions growing increasingly popular, and the R&A proposing a series of rules changes designed to get us moving.
For the participants at last week’s British Speedgolf Championship, their own method of speeding up the game couldn’t be simpler. To run.
The concept is straightforward. Golfers must complete the course as quickly as possible, while simultaneously trying to get it around in as few shots as they can, with the combined total of time and shots equating to make your final Speedgolf score. Players may carry up to 7 clubs carried by hand or bag and are allowed to putt with the flag stick in, but bar these small alterations the rules remain the same as those that govern the standard version of the sport.
In reality, success involves considerable skill, not only the athleticism required to complete the course, but also in balancing pace with the ability to quickly but accurately play your shots.
The event may sound a little crazy, but it has already become serious business for some competitors, with the British Open attended not only by participants from across the UK, but also by a contingent from the USA, including the current World Ranked Number One Speedgolfer, Wesley Cupp.
A normal round of golf may take four hours, but at Speedgolf is a much faster affair, with many of the participants draining their final putt in less than an hour. The winner in the women’s division, Lizzie Taylor, from Chingford, a newbie to Speedgolf, took just 59 mins 57 seconds to finish the course, signing for an impressive 8-over-par at the East Sussex venue.
Running around the golf course on a regular basis may be a bit extreme, although we all have a golfer at our local club we’d wish might try, but Speedgolf appears to be cementing itself as a serious format of the game, with England Golf this year announcing its support of the event.
The fitness benefits of the sport are clear, after all, why hit the gym when you can combine your workout with a game of golf, and while the new format may not alone solve the age old problem of slow play, it certainly looks like a blast.
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