Piltdown Golf Club provided a stunning location for this year’s Speedgolf championship. Speedgolf is the more athletic golf format that combines Golf and Running. The skill lies in balancing your running pace whilst managing your ability to quickly but accurately play your shots to get the lowest score possible as your Speedgolf Score combines the two; time plus strokes.
The British Speedgolf Open Championship starts with an appropriate running start with some 40 competitors set off individually at 6 minute intervals to conquer the challenging course in East Sussex. Competitors travelled from all over the UK from as far as Scotland, Devon and Yorkshire but there was also a strong US contingent who flew in for the event, not least with the current World Ranked Number One Speedgolfer from Rome (New York State) competing; Wesley Cupp. Men played off the white tees 6055 yards (PAR 68) and Women of the Red tees 5217 yards (PAR 72) respectively. Normally an average round here can take four hours, but today things were much, much faster with many finishing their round in under 50 minutes!
The greens were new, well contoured and fast, making putting tricky especially whilst controlling the adrenalin produced from this more athletic format and it was often the putting that proved the most difficult shot that bumped up the golf strokes. Some competitors putted one-handed to save time as this meant they didn’t need to set down their bag.
For the main Individual categories, players started individually, at 6 minute intervals, with the anticipated fastest out first to ensure they had the best chance of a clear run, to minimize play throughs. They also had to run to the finish point after their final putt, many with a sprint finish to save another few seconds! A Speedgolf score combines the total shots taken (plus any penalty shots) added to the time to complete the entire 18 hole golf round.
In the main championship, the Top Flight, it was an intense battle for top honours with the smallest of margins giving Chris Benians victory, he shot a round of 69 strokes (1 over PAR) in just over 47 minutes giving him a Speedgolf Score of 116:13. Runner up was George Boxall who was tantalizingly close with a Speedgolf Score of 116: 17, possibly the closest margin in any Speedgolf tournament! George actually ran the fastest 18 hole round in just 38 minutes 17 seconds but this is a hybrid sport, so the golf strokes count too.
In the Ladies division, Elizabeth Taylor from Chingford in Essex took the title shooting 80 (8 over PAR for Red tees) in 59 mins 57 seconds giving her a Speedgolf Score of 139:57. Amazingly this was her very first Speedgolf tournament. Defending British Champion, Emma Morgan took 2nd Place, but with an equally impressive score of 141:15.
As an addition for 2017, there was also a Team ‘Pairs’ competition; Teams completed the back 10 holes. Pairs played one ball, taking alternate shots and ran in tandem to complete the challenge. Team ‘Piltdown Pioneers’ took top honours with home club advantage, edging out team ‘Ryder Cup Run’ who were as their name suggests the fastest round the 10 holes.