Speed golf, also known as extreme golf, fast golf, hit and run golf, and fitness golf, is a variation of traditional golf in which the objective is on speed.
Because of certain aspects of speed golf, including increased fitness, improved performance, and playing faster, this alternative to golf is considered to be more fun, and more and more golfers are opting to play it.
Modern views on healthy and active lifestyle include different challenges which need to be merged into one activity, and speed golf seems to check all the boxes about that. With it, your athletic experience will be changed forever.
Let’s first learn the rules of speed golf, and how it differs from the traditional one.
Speed golf is played on regular golf courses, and its rules are mostly the same as golf, however, there are a few minor changes.
Similar to golf, players are allowed to carry a maximum of 14 clubs, however, most players carry only 4-7 clubs. They are allowed to wear running shoes. When it comes to an official competition, wheeled, powered or similar transport is not allowed, and neither are metal spikes. Players can use DMDs in case they are conforming devices.
Golfers are allowed to putt with the flagstick placed in the hole, but there is no penalty for hitting a flagstick when playing a stroke on the outing green. To consider the ball holed, it must touch the bottom of the cup.
Just like the wheeled or powered transport, caddies are not allowed either. Therefore, players must carry their own clubs. They can use golf bags for carrying or holding cubs in their hands.
In case a player is unable to find its ball, he or she has three options, and those include replaying the shot, or dropping another ball within two club-lengths of where the ball is reasonably assumed to have come to rest, or dropping a ball along the line of flight of the previous shot.
Another three options are offered in case the ball is placed in an unplayable position. Under penalty of one stroke, a player can choose to replay the shot, or drop the ball within two club-lengths of the nearest relief from the stop where the ball came to rest, or drop a ball along the line of flight of the previous shot. The last option is not choosable if the ball is in a water hazard. However, it can be applied on balls in bunkers, but the ball must be dropped within the bunker.
In case when a ball is out of bounds, here are three options for a player: replay the shot, or drop the ball within two club-lengths of where the ball crossed the out of bounds line, or drop the ball along the line of flight of the previous shot.
You notice that when a player is in a position to choose one of the three options, they are pretty similar in some cases.
Last but not least come to the scoring rules.
The total score is calculated based on the number of strokes and the total time elapsed. When it comes to the total time, it is important to point out that the number of seconds is also included in the score, and they are mostly used to break tying scores.
Now that we know that even seconds are important for the final score, let’s learn what is the right way to measure the time. From the moment a player hits their initial shot on the first hole, until the moment the ball strikes the bottom of the cup on the last hole, the clock needs to be ticking.
The final score is expressed as a whole number followed by a colon, followed by a whole number. The first whole number, or the number before the colon, is obtained from the number of minutes (without seconds) of elapsed time being added to the golf score.
The second number, or the number after the colon, is the number of seconds which weren’t used with the minutes in the first number. E.g. if a player shoots 78 strokes in 46 minutes and 32 seconds to complete the round, the score is expressed as 124:32.
Just like traditional golf, speed golf requires the full responsibility of a player when it comes to course care, which includes repairing ball marks, replacing divots, and raking bunkers.
There are special occasions when the rules allow volunteers to take care of course, and those include tournament play with a large volunteer contingent.
When it comes to tournament play, sometimes it is expected that a golfer plays through a slower opponent ahead of them. The right of way is given to the player who is passing.
He or she can then use a simple “fore” to let the player ahead know that the game needs to be halt momentarily while the faster player plays through.
It is believed that a year of 1979 is the year when speed golf has started. The sport originated in California, the United States, but it is also played in Europe and Japan. In the 1970s, chasing world records was the main occupation for some golfers. In 1979, a former American record holder in the mile, Steve Scott, shot a 95 with a 3-iron in only 29 minutes and 33 seconds.
In the 1990s, several tournaments were organized by International Speed Golf Association. At that time, caddies were allowed. During that period, a former ironman triathlete and teaching pro, Jay Larson, became one of the top speed golfers.
In 2002, Oregonians and speed golfers Tim Scott, Christopher Smith, and Jim Kosciolek founded a company called Speed Golf International. So far, the company has put many tournaments, and in all of them, players have been an obligation to carry their own clubs in a bag, and they were not and still are not allowed to have caddies.
The official Guinness record in this sport was achieved in 2005, by a professional golfer Christopher Smith, who shot 65 in just 44:06 for a Speed Golf score (SGS) of 109:06, while carrying six clubs. The record was made at a tournament in the Chicago Speed Golf Classic at Jackson Park Golf course.
Most tournaments for this sport are at a regional level. However, a World Championship event was inaugurated in 2012.