Speedgolf, as the name implies, adds a new dimension to the game: speed. The quicker you finish a round, the lower your score. So instead of taking the typical 4 to 5 hours to play 18 holes, Rob Hogan, the 2015 speedgolf champion, shot 78 in a mere 40 minutes.
The game has been attracting a small slice of the golf community for years.
“It’s a great workout, and many people get hooked,” says Brad Kearns, who finished in the top 20 in the last two Speedgolf World Championships.
Rules of speedgolf
Let’s begin with the two most important rules in speedgolf:
1. First, you’re allowed to carry a maximum of seven clubs (and many players settle for fewer). That’s not a bad thing. Considering the heavier the bag, the harder it may be to move fast. You’ll carry your own clubs, so you’ll save money by avoiding cart or caddy fees!
2. Your score is the sum of your strokes and the number of minutes it takes to complete 18 holes. For example, Hogan’s championship-winning round earned him a score of 118 – which was 78 shots, plus 40 minutes playing time.
Other rules are the same as traditional golf, and participants must keep the course in good condition, Kearns says. Speedgolfers still must replace divots, rake sand traps and perform all the other maintenance in regular golf, he says. Stroke penalties for out-of- bounds shots and unplayable lies still apply.
Kearns says many people rush themselves way too much when the game really is about finding a balance.
“A penalty for hitting a poor shot is so severe that, while you want to keep moving fast, you still have to keep yourself in check enough for a good shot,” he says.
But don’t hesitate. You’ll save 7 to 10 minutes on your round if you hit each shot just five seconds quicker than usual. Skipping practice swings and precise deliberations will also save time.
There’s also club strategy. Kearns carries just five clubs – a 3-wood, hybrid 5-iron, 8-iron, 53-degree wedge and a putter. Kearns even says you can employ strategy in carrying your clubs. Many speedgolfers choose to tote their clubs in a junior bag, but Kearns actually carries his in his hands and drops them before he takes each shot.
Your golf scores may go down
Here’s a pleasant surprise: “Many golfers find they’re just as accurate – and even sometimes more – when they play speedgolf,” Kearns says. “There’s a Zen-like state that can happen when you don’t have so much time on your shot. For some, less thinking actually lowers their score.”
Despite the implication in the sport’s name, you don’t have to run in speedgolf.
“If you’d rather do a faster walk, go ahead,” Kearns says. “Some people jog. The key is to get out there and have a good time.”
And, hey, maybe there will even be money in it for you someday. The 2015 Speedgolf World Championships offered a $50,000 purse, and the winner took home more than $10,000.
“Obviously the money isn’t why people really do it, but it’s a lot of fun to play a round of golf in under an hour,” Kearns says. “Who says golf has to eat that much into your day?”
To learn more or start your own league, visit Speedgolf International