This year’s Speedgolf World Championships, held on the Shenedoah Course at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York, wrapped Oct. 16 — and a major record was finally broken.
But before we get to the results, a bit about the sport. Speedgolf, as you may remember (or may never have known), is much like regular golf except you are trying to complete the round as quickly as possible on foot. Your speedgolf score is your golf score plus the time it takes you to finish. For example, if you shoot 80 in 60 minutes, your speedgolf score is 80 + 60 = 140.
There are only a few minor rules differences.
First, you are allowed to leave the flagstick in, which will also actually become an option in regular golf in 2019. Second, in the case of a lost ball, you are allowed to drop in the vicinity of where the ball was lost. This is because it was thought to be too penal in speedgolf to not only lose the stroke from the lost ball but also lose the time running back to where you played your last shot (plus it might be dangerous if there is another player coming up behind you). Third, you can only bring a maximum of seven clubs instead of the usual 14.
Strategies continue to evolve and improve.
Bags, if taken, are usually smaller “Sunday” type bags from a variety of manufacturers but sometimes even homemade. To save time, some players have gotten quite good at 1-handed putting. They hold their bag or clubs in one hand and putt with the other hand.
If you are a fast distance runner like Olympians Bernard Lagat or Nick Willis, running will obviously be your strength and perhaps it’s better to take fewer clubs to take advantage of your speed. In fact, I’ve seen one guy only take a single bladed 6-iron. To hit it farther he puts the ball back in his stance and he delofts the club face more like that of a 3-iron. Around the green, since the sole is thinner, he can open the club face quite a bit, squat down, and pop the ball up almost like a flop shot. To roll his putts, he just catches the ball slightly above the equator using the leading edge and an ascending stroke.
Others like myself aren’t as strong at running but have played golf professionally, so we might take a little more time on our shots, clip our golf bags on a belt hook and putt two-handed, and use six or seven clubs to focus on shooting a good golf score. This year I used a driver (to take advantage of my distance), a 3-wood (to make sure I could reach par 5s in two shots), three of my Sterling Irons® single length irons (the 6-iron, the 9-iron, and the gap wedge), and my putter.
Rain gloves are fairly standard since you get so sweaty and don’t want the clubs slipping out of your hands while swinging. Shoes are often running shoes or lightweight trail running shoes.
Despite what you might think, even with a maximum of seven clubs and playing shots at an elevated heart rate, scoring isn’t all that much different from what you might shoot in regular golf. In fact, some people even play better in part because you don’t start over thinking shots and you play more instinctively in a reactionary manner.
Up to this point at the World Championships, we’ve had five people shoot par 72 in under an hour…myself, Christopher Smith, Scott Dawley, Gretchen Johnson, and Jaime Young.
I knew I was going in to this year’s World Championships out of shape, so I wasn’t expecting much from the running standpoint. However, my golf game was okay and I shot 72 in my practice round, which included a triple bogey. So, going for that golf scoring record was obviously on my mind. Alas, it wasn’t my year…but the record was still meant to be broken this year.
Now, on to the results: With an amazing round of 71 in 55 minutes and 28 seconds, Mikko Rantanen of Finland pulled off speedgolf’s version of Roger Bannister and the four-minute mile by breaking the par mark that many of us had been stuck on for years.
In his bag, Mikko had the following six clubs:
- Titleist 915 D3 driver – 9.5 degrees
- Titlest 917 F2 fairway wood – 15 degrees
- Titleist AP 2 6-iron
- Titleist 716 CB 9-iron
- Titleist Vokey 52-degree sand wedge
- Maxfli Tad Moore putter
He also used a Titleist ProV1x and wore Salomon trail running shoes.
Mikko said he was inspired to break par in speedgolf for the first time by Chris Benians of England, who shot a 69 (-3) in 49 minutes and 16 seconds two days prior at Rome Country Club in Rome, New York, as part of the 2018 US Speedgolf Championships.
Jamie Reid(a) of New Zealand ran the event’s fastest time with a blistering 47 minutes and 29 seconds. We have seen faster times in previous World Championships, however, much like the World Long Drive Championships, the course and conditions of the day come in to play. This year’s Shenedoah Course at Turning Stone Resort & Casino played to around 5.3 miles which included 1.9 miles of some quite long transitions between holes. We also faced lots of rain and a water-logged course. As such, times were a bit slower at this venue than in previous years.
Two-time World Champion Rob Hogan of Ireland remains the only man to break 40 minutes at the World Championships.
Lauren Cupp of New York won the women’s division with an 86 in 66 minutes and 34 seconds.
Mark Le Compte of New Zealand was the 25-49 age group division with an 84 in 59 minutes and 28 seconds.
Larry Levinson won the 50+ age group with an 81 in 69 minutes and 12 seconds.
The inaugural ISGA World Cup (a team event) was held the day after the World Championships. The Team USA duo of Steve Vancil (who played in the PGA TOUR’s Buick Open) and Eri Crum (who won the 2014 Speedgolf World Championships and was a Stanford University college golf teammate of Tiger Woods) took 1st place and the gold medal.
For full field results and to learn about speedgolf leagues in your area, click here.
Photo Credit: Kirstin Bull | Speedgolf USA
PGA Tour to provide financial assistance to players and caddies during Coronavirus pandemic
The PGA Tour has announced plans to compensate both players and caddies after several Tour events were cancelled due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
In a memo sent to players on Friday, it was explained that due to IRS regulations, the Tour is not allowed distribute un-earned financial benefits to members, but that the organization has developed some programs to help its players during the ongoing pandemic. Players and caddies will receive financial assistance from the PGA Tour with one of the primary programs to help players based on their current FedEx Cup standing.
Players can receive up to $100,000 in bonus earnings during this period which will subsequently be removed from their season-ending bonus after play has been restarted.
Tour pros will also be entitled to request advance payments (up to $30k) for future Monday pro-am spots and advances on future earnings, while the Tour also plans on allowing players to withdraw funds from their retirement plans based on financial need.
“Playing opportunities equate to financial opportunities, and we are concerned about the toll that canceled tournaments are having on some of our members” – Tyler Dennis, a senior vice president and the Tour’s chief of operations.
Included in the memo were caddies, who are entitled to a partial mid-season distribution of an endorsement program and who can also request financial support from the Caddie Benevolent Fund.
Play is not set to resume on the PGA Tour until May 21 at the earliest.
GolfWRX AUA (Ask Us Anything): TaylorMade fitters are answering YOUR questions!
With the downtime, #teamtaylormade are ready to talk golf!
Go to the link below to ask any TM specific questions you may have. TaylorMade fitters from across the US will be diving in the forums to answer questions, talk golf and get you dialed. Take this opportunity to go TM crazy.
Team TaylorMade fitters that will be participating:
- Chris Clegg, Georgia
- John Junkin, Pennsylvania
- Lewis Schnauble, Maryland
- John Tabor, Michigan
- Freddy Villarta, California
- Matt Zerishnek, Pennsylvania
- James Albright, Arizona
Report: 2020 U.S. Open to be rescheduled due to Coronavirus pandemic
This year’s U.S. Open will not go ahead as planned in June and will be rescheduled for a later date, according to a report from the New York Post.
Per the report, the plan is for the tournament to be played “later in the summer”, with the location of the event remaining at Winged Foot Golf Club.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Winged Foot Golf Club would be closing its doors indefinitely. The news came after New York governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order telling non-essential businesses to suspend trading immediately due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The New York area currently has 37,200 confirmed cases of Coronavirus as of Thursday 26 March.
Both The Masters and the PGA Championship have already been postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic with plans in place to play both majors at a later date.
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