England Golf staff picked up the pace when a Speedgolf demonstration was held on the Bracken course at their Woodhall Spa HQ in Lincolnshire.
It turned the spotlight on the more athletic format which combines running and golf. England Golf partners British Speedgolf through its Golf Express campaign, which encourages busy people to play more often, and during September it will be promoting this and other shorter and quicker formats of the game.
The prospect of Golf Express Month encouraged England Golf Chief Executive Nick Pink to put on his running shoes and gain firsthand experience of the Speedgolf.
“I thought it was great fun. There were parts I had not really considered, like how to hold the bag whilst running, but for the first few holes I found that I actually played ok as I was not thinking about golf, just breathing. The challenge came as I got tired and the legs no longer moved!
“There was plenty of chat afterwards and a real sense of camaraderie which bound the group together. I liked this side of it and can see Speedgolf spreading and being successful for those who want to combine playing with fun and fitness.”
He was among eight staff volunteers who joined the Speedgolfers and England Golf’s Participation and Club Support Director, Richard Flint, (pictured top) gave the experienced players a run for their money.
He shot round the nine holes in 23min 37 secs and took 43 strokes for a combined 66.37 Speedgolf score – and was beaten only by one experienced player, Chris Benians, a PGA professional and former European Tour player, and the runner up in last year’s British Speedgolf Open Championship.
Benians (pictured with Nick Pink) took slightly longer to play the course, but used fewer shots for his score of 59.11. Flint remarked afterwards: “Next time I would try and take more time on and around the greens – a few more seconds to save a few more shots.”
The volunteers took part for a range of reasons. “I like combination sports and trying to keep fit,” said Finance Director Simon Wilson. “I am not a good golfer and I am coming back gently into running after a long injury so I was not bothered how I did, but I wanted to gain some fun out of it and I certainly did that!”
Men’s Performance Manager Steve Burnett added: “I like running and golf so really wanted to give it a try and I was first on the list. I also liked the idea of just using one club and having lots of opportunity to be creative. I looked forward to the challenge, gave it a real go and really enjoyed it. I’d definitely do it again!”
Speedgolfers are actually allowed to use up to seven clubs but tactics call for consideration of whether to take a bag or to carry fewer clubs by hand.
Young People Manager Lee Dolby used the experience to successfully reignite his love of running after a gap of five years. “I really enjoyed it. I thought that it might be a bit boring and lonely running on my own as I don’t like playing golf on my own or even practicing in the range, but I really enjoyed the balance between speed and accuracy.”
Speedgolf has introduced a new pairs format to add a social dimension to the game. Each player takes alternate shots but run together, always behind the ball, so the slower player sets the pace.
Membership Marketing Manager Sam Czornyj is looking to the future with Speedgolf: “At some point in the future when my partner and I start a family, SpeedGolf will become a great asset for still playing golf, staying healthy and balancing my family life when otherwise it might be difficult to justify five hours away at the weekend!”
To find out more visit the British Speedgolf website or watch the British Open Speedgolf Championship at Piltdown Golf Club, East Sussex on 17 September.
Golf Express www.golfexpress9.org
England Golf www.englandgolf.org