The Springs, a beautiful parkland golf resort near Wallingford in Oxfordshire, played host to the British Speedgolf championship which for the first time in its history was a 36 hole event over two successive mornings, where the winner would prove a level of consistency to rival any golf tournament. For most, it is hard to imagine completing 18 holes in under an hour with those at the top of the leader board shooting close to Par but completing 2 rounds of 18 holes on successive days was both physically and mentally demanding.
Players were set off individually at 6 minute intervals with an appropriate running start to the first tee and ending both their rounds with a running finish.
A Speedgolf score combines the total shots taken (plus any penalty shots) added to the time to complete the entire 18 hole golf round. Scorers in golf buggies tracked the limited field (17) of Speedgolfers who jogged on foot between holes and saved time by eliminating time consuming practice swings and other rituals associated with the regular golf. Finding the optimum pace to maximise golf performance is the key challenge and as with any great golf tournament consistency is key. Players use less clubs (up to 7) which are carried by hand or in golf bag.
The championship title went to PGA Pro Luke Willett, he shot the first 18 holes in under 38 minutes and the second in under 40 minutes on this PAR 72 course, also managing to keep his golf strokes at 77 and 82 respectively! George Boxall completed both rounds in under 38 minutes to secure his 2nd place. Former World Speedgolf Champion Rob Hogan, from Ireland, was a close 3rd. Other notable performances were by two newcomers Andrew Eales and Adam Harrington. Their combined 2 day speedgolf scores were only 6 seconds apart but Adam’s best golf score round was 77 compared to Andrew at 86 but Andrew’s faster round was 36 minutes 31 (fastest overall) but his best golf score was 86, which illustrates perfectly why speedgolf is so fascinating combining both golf performance and time.
All of the field of Speedgolfers were in complete awe of Scott Richardson, from Buckinghamshire, who made history by becoming the first Amputee competitor in the world to compete in a national Speedgolf Championship. He completed his first 18 holes in under 75 minutes and the next morning thrilled again by going even faster in 71 minutes, 16 seconds. Players jog between shots and the only buggies out during the championship are those trailing players recording their golf strokes. Scott has been playing golf for 10 years, always as a leg below the knee amputee, following a racing accident whilst competing in the Isle of Man TT races back in 2000. Scott has represented England at disabled golf and has won the Czech Disabled Masters & English Disabled Open but Speedgolf represented a whole new ball game. He took a complete leap of faith when deciding to compete in this year’s tournament and set a new world record in the process. His best 18 hole round speedgolf score over the two days was shooting 98 strokes in 74 minutes and 40 seconds giving him a speedgolf score of 172:40 wholly respectable for an able bodied speedgolf newcomer, but this is now the standard to beat for any other amputee golfer wishing to take on a faster pace in golf!
The youngest in the field was William Kay, aged 18, who delivered two sub 50 minute rounds and is definitely one to watch in the future! Yvonne McSherry a complete novice in this sport took the plunge and entered this her first speedgolf tournament.
What unites all players is the camaraderie of speedgolf, whether you are a newcomer or an experienced speedgolfer; the championship ethos is friendly and inclusive.
Great golf is at the heart of Speedgolf so it was no surprise that the most accomplished golfers prevailed. What motivates these players is their passion in one sport that unites two of the largest athletic communities in the world, Golf and Running! Speedgolf also satisfies a myriad of today’s modern challenges to a healthy and active lifestyle and provides the thrill of a challenge; there was no prize purse for the winners but something far more valuable, the accolade of becoming a British Champion plus an unforgettable experience. Speedgolf is much more physically demanding than traditional golf, but also delivers greater fitness benefits, whilst addressing the issue of pace of play head on.
2021 British Open Speedgolf Results:
Luke Willet, a PGA Pro from Buckinghamshire, UK; Round 1 77 shots in 37 mins 59 secs, Round 2 82 strokes in 39 minutes 57 seconds. Combined Speedgolf score over 2 days was 236:56 (shots + time)
2nd place Amateur golfer George Boxall from Kent; Round 1 84 shots in 37 mins 36 secs. Round 2 81 shots in 37 minutes 27 seconds. Combined Speedgolf score over 2 days was 240:04 (shots + time)
3rd place Rob Hogan from Ireland (former World Speedgolf champion) Round 1 79 in 4s minutes, Round 2 80 in 40 minutes 46 seconds. Combined Speedgolf score over 2 days was 241:46 (shots + time)
Scott Richardson is the first amputee golfer in the world to compete in a National Speedgolf event. He has been playing golf for 10 years but always as a leg below the knee amputee, following a racing accident over 20 years ago. Scott hopes his leap of faith by competing in this event will inspire others to follow and open up an exciting new opportunity for disability golf.
His best round of the two days was his first where he shot 98 strokes in 74 minutes 40 secs giving him a speedgolf score of 172:40.
For general information on the Sport visit http://britishspeedgolf.co.uk/