People looking for a new sport or a version of golf that will increase their heart rate and allow them to get a round in much faster will be enticed by a Redondo resident’s push for Speedgolf.
Speedgolf, which has been played in various forms since the 1960s, was invented in its current form by three Oregon athletes in 2002 who were runners and passionate golfers. They wanted to speed up the game of golf and finish a round of 18 holes a lot faster than the several hours it usually takes. Tim Scott, Christopher Smith and Jim Kosciolek came up with its current format when they played it at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon. They also started Speedgolf International, the governing body of the sport. Fast forward to 2014 and this year Speedgolf will host its third world championship at Bandon Dunes on Oct. 25 and 26.
Redondo Beach resident Garlin Smith reached out to Speedgolf International to see if it was being played in Los Angeles and he was told it was not. So in a couple of months, he learned the sport firsthand and worked to introduce it to new players.
“I learned about it two years ago,” Smith said.
He got involved because he wanted to “help grow this new version of the sport.”
Smith also felt the sport brought “an element of fitness to golf” and “provides local fitness enthusiasts who also play golf with a new challenge.”
The game is played just like golf with a few minors changes. Golfers wear running shoes, more comfortable attire and carry seven clubs. They also don’t have to pull out the pin on the green.
Smith is still fairly new to the sport, but has worked with The Lakes at El Segundo and the American Golf Corporation to arrange times for Speedgolf, which is usually played when a course opens and just before it closes so its players don’t interfere with the regular golfers.
It usually takes Smith less than 20 minutes to play nine holes at The Lakes.
To keep score, players combine the number of strokes along with their finishing time when they complete their last putt.
The world record is held by Christopher Smith, one of the inventors, who shot a 65 in 44:06 at the Chicago Speedgolf Classic on Oct. 16, 2005.
This week Chris Smith, 42, of Redondo Beach joined Garlin Smith (no relation) for his first try at speedgolf at The Lakes.
“At first I didn’t think I would score so well and actually running and not taking any practice swings was a lot of fun and I ended up scoring like I normally do so it was a great round and it took all of 18-20 minutes,” said Chris Smith, who shot 2-over-par. “Today was a lot more efficient way of golf.”
Bill Wright, 77, of Los Angeles is a golf instructor at The Lakes and he watched the pair finish a round.
“I like the idea that if a person can hold up that long, it would be fun,” he said.
In 2012, the first Speedgolf World Championships were held in Bandon Dunes, which was won by Chris Walker. Rob Hogan won last year. He is from Ireland and currently ranked as the No. 1 player in the world.
Speedgolf is played most frequently in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Virginia and Oregon. It is played internationally in Australia, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Germany, Poland, France, Spain, Japan and Iceland.
Scott Dawley is the executive director of Speedgolf International based out of Houston and he praised Smith’s efforts to introduce the game to the L.A. area.
“Garlin has been doing an incredible job (of promoting the sport),” Dawley said.
Smith has set up a meeting place for those in Southern California who would like to play. Those interested can reach him at speedgolflosangeles.com. He also can be contacted on Facebook at facebook.com/SpeedGolfLA.
Smith has three events lined up over the next couple weeks for those interested in giving it a try.
For more information on the sport, visit speedgolfinternational.com.