(Reuters) – The sound of a whistle signals the start of the race, and Rob Hogan sprints toward the first of 18 legs in his contest: a golf tee. He takes a quick look at the fairway, then hits a drive, grabs his bag and runs toward his next shot, a process he repeats until he makes it the green.
A game of 18 holes would usually take golfers about four hours. Hogan’s round of 82 strokes lasted just 36 minutes and 59 seconds, retaining his title in a somewhat unusual contest — the British Open Speedgolf Championships.
A golf club is southern England hosted the competition at the weekend, drawing both men and women. The players began individually at intervals, carried a maximum seven clubs and could putt leaving the flagstick in the hole. Buggies and caddies were not allowed.
Otherwise, the rules differed little from golf’s standard rules. The final score combined total shots and time to complete the 18-hole round — Hogan got 118:59.
“Just hit the ball as fast as you can, run as fast as you can and get in and chill out,” he said when asked for playing tips.
The world championships take place in the United States in October.
“One of the problems people find with golf is that it takes up too much time,” participant Tom Pinnegar said. “This way you can tee off at 9 o’clock and you’ve got the rest of the day.”
(Writing by Saskia O’Donoghue and Marie-Louise Gumuchian, editing by Larry King)