It goes something like this: set your stance, take a breath, hit the ball, pick up your clubs. Now run! Or jog, if you prefer. Yes, speedgolf is a thing. Nick Willis, the New Zealand 1500 metre Olympic medallist, is a fan and competes in the New Zealand Speedgolf Open. He might be the fastest on the course, but it turns out he’s not the best. In this game, accuracy holds equal standing with pace.
The sport kicked off in the 1970s when a few golfers began chasing speed records. In 1979, the former US record holder for the mile hit 18 holes in under 30 minutes. In the 1990s, players had caddies in carts who carried the clubs, but in 2002, Speedgolf International established the modern rules, in which players carry their own clubs and caddies are not allowed.
Now consider this: a round of speedgolf will take you on a journey of six to nine kilometres, according to Phil Aickin, handicapping and golf services manager for New Zealand Golf (a speedgolfer himself). It will vary due to the course design and your skill. Players carry up to seven clubs, a lightweight bag is optional. One stroke is worth one minute, so you want to be fast without costing yourself strokes, Willis advises. He cites his fastest round as being with two clubs only, but he usually plays with three to five. His advice is to take your mind out of the game, don’t rush and get into a rhythm.
The goal for the top players is under par in under an hour, but Aickin confirms it’s just as important to have fun. “It’s a great thing for golfers who overthink their play, you just can’t do that with speedgolf,” he says. Ready to gamify your morning run? Check whether your course is up to speed!