Christopher Smith, a three-time Pacific Northwest PGA Section Award winner and Guinness World Records holder for Speedgolf, is a GFAA Advisory Board Member and the PGA Director of Instruction at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Oregon and Questro Golf in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Speedgolf is a variation of our traditional game that is embraced in small segments across the globe. I started playing in the mid-90s with another PGA Professional, Tim Scott, who like me, was a hard-core runner and competitive player.
Fewer individuals played back then – so we created our own association and facilitated tournaments to help grow its popularity. The challenge is that you can only play when there are no other golfers in front of you. So, courses that want to offer Speedgolf have to choose the right times to do so, like early mornings or late in the evening.
Often likened to the Olympic biathlon, Speedgolf represents an extreme level of interval training. You have to run distances between 50 and 300 yards, stop abruptly and then perform an incredibly complex motor skill like hitting a golf ball with precision and accuracy for three to five miles, depending on the course layout.
I have spent more than two decades studying the neuroscience, motor learning and human performance intricacies involved in a round of Speedgolf, and how to best integrate those pieces into its traditional counterpart. I developed a program called “Train2Trust” focused on meaningful practice, built on some of the tenets present in Speedgolf.
One of the most important principles of my program is called “The Suvorov Principle.” A legendary Russian military general, Suvorov’s motto was, “easy training, hard battle; hard training, easy battle.” His armies were undefeated. As PGA Professionals, we’ve all taught “practice with a purpose” for years – this is just another perspective on that concept.
In a round of Speedgolf, you have to play more intuitively and athletically, while staying in the moment, an important piece of mental fortitude. Normally, we stew over a poor result for several minutes while walking to our next shot. Well, there’s no time for loathing or self-pity in Speedgolf, as the next opportunity is only seconds away. This is a discipline that can be incorporated into one’s regular play.
The human system (often deactivated by ‘technology’) – mind, body and spirit – is extremely adept at measuring, assessing and executing, and is naturally activated when playing in Speedgolf fashion. Instinct, intuition and gut are activated over deliberation, doubt and hesitation. Speedgolf, at any pace and for any number of holes, intrinsically influences the physical and mental aspects of better golf performance.
Find one day per week to offer Speedgolf. Consider offering one hole, three holes or even a full nine holes, and send players off according to ability and pace. Promote the fun and benefits and you’ll get a few takers.
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