Speedgolf or Speedfully golf?

I’ve recently returned from my annual holiday in Portugal and aside from sitting on the same sunlounger where the original idea for a watch for golfers first entered my head, one of the holiday rituals is to organise some golf on those wonderful  courses around Quinta do Lago that I know so well.

This year we thought we’d include Laranjal on the ‘to do’ list. I first rediscovered my love for golf amongst the orange groves that line Los Naranjos near Marbella and Laranjal too has it’s fair share of oranges hanging from the trees that line the beautifully manicured fairways. But remember if you can see the oranges close up you’ve probably missed the fairway with your tee shot!

Anyway the first sign of trouble with the booking was the 300 euro asking price for two players and one buggy. When I first played these courses in 1999 the green fee was just £21. Is golf really a good investment at that price? Eventually we were able to negotiate a package for just 197 euros – a bargain not!

We teed off as a two ball and by the time we reached the 7th tee just 58 minutes had passed. However the second sign of trouble were the three groups ahead of us, congregated around the tee with one further group in play on the hole. The course ahead was packed with four balls and it would take a further 4 hours to complete the remaining 12 holes. We were given the option by a Marshall to drive past the groups on the six holes ahead of us to the 13th where there was apparently a gap in the field. This was not accompanied by any offer to refund the 66 euros of wasted green fee. So instead we decided to ‘grin and bear it’ turning our game of golf into sunbathing on a golf buggy whilst occasionally playing a shot.

Holiday golf can be a complete nightmare with once a year ‘golfers’ having a bash with the sticks and I guess at 100-150 euros each most golf courses are very happy for the revenue. Perhaps they could stick to the crazy golf in Vale do Lobo rather than driving me crazy on a proper course.

Whilst I was away there were other ‘speed’ related golf stories.

Firstly Wesley Bryan set the record for the fastest ever round in a US PGA Tour event at the BMW Championship shooting an impressive 69 in just 1 hour and 29 minutes. The American who was first out threw his clubs to his caddy and took pins out himself to save time.

He averaged under 5 minutes per hole with the group behind him still on the 8th when he finished. If only more Wesley’s were at Laranjal!

Secondly the R&A announced how pleased they were for all the feedback on their proposed rule changes. These had in the main been received positively by golfers especially ones relating to improving pace of play. The new rules will be adopted in … January 2019!

Finally the British Open Speedgolf Championships were held at Piltdown Golf Club.

I first became aware of Speedgolf following a presentation by Pam Painter at an England Golf Innovation day held at Aston Villa Football Club and witnessed the new variant first hand at an awareness event held during the England Golf golfweek at Woodhall Spa. So Speedgolf is about running around the course like a headless chicken as fast as you can – right? Wrong!

It’s obvious that Speedgolf is a really skilful game where golfing ability is uppermost with an athletic ability and fitness underpining the sport. It’s a bit like the final combined running/shooting event in a modern pentathlon.

Congratualtions went to winner Chris Benians who won with a Speedgolf score of 116.13 - that’s his total strokes of just 69 taking a very impressive 47 minutes and 13 seconds for 18 holes! The challenge of Speedgolf is to balance your running pace with your ability to quickly and accurately play your shots to get the lowest combined score possible.

Certainly not for everyone as it requires a high degree of core fitness but one competitor informed me that as a newly wed with a yound child Speedgolf enabled him to keep golfing, keep fit and keep his relationship with his wife on an even keel as his time at the golf club was no more than an hour and a half.

As well as collecting the trophy Chris picked up an ETIQUS Golf Timepiece – supporting other innovators in golf is something I consider worth investing in.

For more info visit British Speedgolf.

It’s pleasing to see the efforts of England Golf and others continue to promote Golf Express (a branded name for playing 9 holes) and the adoption of Ready Golf by an increasing number of clubs in their competitions.

Golf isn’t a game that needs to be played fast but perhaps it does need to be played ‘speedfully’ – 'in a timely and effective manner'. I hope you agree.

Yours in golf,

Gary Butler

Founder