You won't see this at Gleneagles: Introducing 'Speedgolf'
The Boars Head Golf Centre in south east England has hosted Britain's first ever Speedgolf Championship.
Rookie competitors completed nine holes for the 'Novice' class whilst more accomplished runners and golfers completed two successive rounds to complete the full 18 holes for the title of British Speedgolf Champion.
As its name suggests, Speedgolf involves playing a round of golf in the lowest possible sum of golf strokes, combined with the time taken to run the course. It is seen as a more athletic form of golf and the skill lies in balancing running pace while managing the ability to quickly and accurately play shots to get the lowest score possible.
Both classes, the novice 9-hole and expert 18-hole, attracted a combination of golfers, runners and tri-athletes, some of whom were playing Speedgolf for the very first time.
The tournament even attracted two players from Canada. One of them, Marie-Catherine Marsot, explained her technique:
"Since you want to be fast, you want to be able to carry your bag on the green without putting it down so the only way to do that is having your bag in one hand and your putter in one hand, so from now on I putt with only one hand and balance my bag on the other hip and that way you save a lot of time, I manage to save probably 5 minutes on my 18 holes by doing that technique," she said.
What made the British Speedgolf Championships unique was that entrants had a running start to the first tee before they could position themselves for that initial putt. There were 6 minute intervals between players to ensure they each had the best chance of a clear run.
Although the weather was at times sunny, a cool blustery wind prevailed for much of the tournament, adding to the challenging conditions. Many also found the hilly course tiring to sprint across.
Speedgolf requires the same etiquette as normal golf, however, players can putt with the flag pole in, which saves valuable time. Competitors are allowed to carry up to a maximum of seven clubs, either by hand or in a golf bag. Several had a small selection of clubs in a pencil style golf bag but a few ran with just two clubs, a iron and a putter.
Players looked visibly exhausted as they crossed the finishing line, but the response to the inaugural championship was enthusiastic.
For the expert class, it was George Scott, the Boars Head club pro, who completed his round with both precision and speed to take the British Speedgolf Championship title. Dressed in a bright orange t-shirt and printed white trousers, he finished with 76 shots in a time of 57 minutes and 28 seconds.
Speedgolf has been established for some time in the United States, but now the sport is beginning to find global popularity with other nations either hosting championships or leagues, including Australia, Japan, Canada, Iceland and Germany and Ireland.