British Speedgolf Championships 2016

British Speedgolf Championships 2016
    Addressing the issue of slow play head on, Speedgolf is a faster more athletic form of golf, which pitches Pace against Accuracy. The skill lies in balancing your running pace whilst managing your ability to quickly and accurately play your shots to get the lowest score possible as your Speedgolf Score combines the two.
    The British Speedgolf Open Championship starts with an appropriate running start and competitors set off individually to conquer the hilly championship course at Dale Hill Golf Club near Ticehurst, East Sussex . The 18 hole Dale Hill course provided a challenging Par 69 off the Yellow for the men and Red tees for the women, 5512 yards and 5164 yards respectively. Normally an average round here can take four and a half hours, but today things were much, much faster!
    Aside from the obvious speed element there is little difference to the rules for golf. However, Speedgolfers use up to 7 clubs carried by hand or bag and are allowed to putt with the flag stick in. Buggies are strictly prohibited in play, but were used in the championship by scorers/spotters to follow each competitor to ensure the strokes were verified and to aide ball spotting. Conditions on the day were ideal with overcast to sunny skies, albeit a little warm and humid as the morning progressed. The course was in splendid condition but proved harder than last year due to the thickness of the rough, so keeping the ball on the fairway was much more critical!
    The greens were 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.
    Players started individually, at 8 minute intervals, with the 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. 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 Expert Division,  it was an intense battle for top honours but Ireland’s Rob Hogan from Galway,  put in a blistering performance shooting a round of 82  strokes in just 36 minutes and 59 seconds giving him a Speedgolf Score of 118:59, successfully defending his championship title. Runner up was Chris Benians, a former European Tour member, who was a tantalizing whisker away, shooting just 2 over par with 71 shots but coming back in 48 minutes and 17 seconds giving him a Speedgolf Score of 119:17. Third place George Boxall was chasing with an equally impressive Speedgolf Score of 120:03, such was the standard of play and pace at this year’s event.  
    In the Ladies category, Emma Morgan from Crowborough, East Sussex also successfully defended the Women’s Speedgolf title by shooting 98 in 63mins 17seconds giving her a Speedgolf Score of 161:17.
    Speedgolf is not just for the elite in golf or those who are exceptionally fast or fit. There was a novice category designed for those newest to the sport with less accomplished golf and running capabilities, some were even relatively new to golf.  It was Stuart Green from Birmingham, in the Midlands who took top honours shooting 83 in 55minutes 53 seconds; Speedgolf Score of 138:53, the 22 year old was a complete novice! In Speedgolf, it is passion and the thrill of the challenge that drives success, there was no prize purse for the winners but something far more valuable, the accolade of becoming a British Champion and the respect and admiration of many from both sports, golf and running.
    Speedgolf is much more physically demanding than the traditional game and most competitors were exhausted, yet elated when finished, testament to the great camaraderie at the event. Great golf is at the heart of Speedgolf so it was no surprise that the most accomplished golfers prevailed.  Speedgolf offers a new and exciting form of golf that rewards a balance between pace and precision and demands both power and endurance.
    The ethos of Speedgolf is one of fitness and fun and it particularly appeals to those increasingly time poor golfers with busy careers or young families that struggle to play a round of golf. Speedgolf has been established for some time in the US but recently the sport has begun to find global popularity with other nations including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Iceland and Sweden. The World Speedgolf championships, is hosted in the US and is approaching its 5th Annual Championship in October, where the best in the world will gather to compete.

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