Luke invited me out to the Raleigh Speedgolf league, which is run (pun intended) by his buddy, Pete.  I didn’t know much about Speedgolf; I imagined a laid-back, hit-and-jog sort of deal.  Down to try something new + get a little exercise, I agreed to come out one Tuesday summer evening.  Leading up to that night’s round, I figured there are two types of people in Speedgolf… runners and golfers. I am the latter.

Speedgolf is scored as a combination of your time + shots, a 4 to 5-mile sprint-marathon on an 18-hole track. I’ve played RGA before with some buddies; it’s not a hard course and is fairly short. I knew from a golf perspective I’d hold my own, however, keeping pace with the runners might be the challenge. This was a regular round for the guys + gals who are out here every Tuesday night — me, I run two, maybe three days a week to warm up at the gym. 

Over the first few holes, I found that Speedgolf requires more strategy than meets the eye. It’s not a whack-and-run game. If you sail your ball over the green, you’re running past the green to hit your ball, then back to the green, then to the next tee (straight lines are faster than zig-zags). That precious time is wasted — short is better than long.

Halfway through the first 9, I could feel my legs start to drag. Like I mentioned, I am not a runner; during the second mile my muscles were on fire! I still made decent swings, but picking up my clubs and trying to run again was exhausting. A couple things helped me push through- the GoPro strapped to my forehead recording everything I was doing, and Luke, with his drone somewhere on the course, watching me from above.

I finished the front 9 a few over par. No birdies, no big mistakes either. About two and a half miles in I started to adapt, settle in, and find my groove. Other than combating sweat on my grips, I felt comfortable where I was. I was keeping up with the golfers in front of me and hitting fairways.

Then, the golf gods struck. On the singular par-5 on the course, number 3 (now my back-nine #12), I crushed a 3-wood right down the middle and had about 180 into the green. I thought, “Perfect, stock 7 iron, swing, 1-putt, eagle.” This is how it actually unfolded… 7-iron swing and my ball sailing straight into the water. Great… now I am out of golf balls. I run up to the water to try and find a ball, any ball. After what feels like half an hour, I find the best-looking Top Flite I have ever seen, just off the pond bank.  Reaching in with my wedge, I scoop it out, take a lateral drop, chip on the green, and drain a miraculous bogey.

Running at this point has become something in the back of my mind. The sweat streaming down my forearms to my hands is a major handicap and all I can think about. I saw other Speedgolf veterans before me tee off with rain gloves on both hands — in hindsight wish I had too.

Sweat aside, before I knew it, I was running up 18 to a gallery waiting behind the green, Luke with his camera lens focused on me. My approach lands short, adrenaline is pumping; the finish was near. I chip up, 2-putt, and card a last hole bogey.

I walked up to the players with a huge grin on my face, knowing deep down I just completed the hardest round of golf I have ever played. 

When Luke asked, “Would you do it again?” I hesitated, and responded, “Yeah.. Yeah I would.”

The fastest paced runners lead the way
Pete has finished 12th in the World Speedgolf Championships (twice) at Bandon Dunes.
Something cool happened (see below)
Mike holed out from 70 yards to finish his 18. His time stopped without needing to run + putt out. Lucky duck.
Speedgolf Homies

Until next season…  // #golfishome


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