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Health & Exercise Forum

Speed golf for fun and fitness

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May 10, 2009

Dr. Paul MackareyHaving fun while getting fit are some of the most common concerns patients express to me about exercise. How long will it take? How many calories will I burn? How can I make it fun? Well, there is a new sport that may allow for fun and fitness in a time-efficient manner – Speed Golf!

Normally, a round of golf in a cart burns 240 calories/hour. Jogging burns 675 calories/hour. As a comparison, singles tennis consumes 549 calories/hour. It is fair to say that speed golf should consume between 650 and 850 calories per/hour, depending upon the speed at which you play. It makes golf an exercise for fitness. It does something else – it speeds up play!

Speed golf is a sport in which you combine the positive features of two sports (golf and running) for fun and fitness. A player carries a limited number of clubs to lighten his load and allow him to run while playing golf. While some speed golfers only take two or three clubs, serious players take 5 or 6; driver, 4 wood, 5 iron, eight iron, wedge and putter. Traditional golf limits a player to 14 clubs. Score is dictated by adding the total number of strokes and the total time it takes to complete the round but the scoring system favors the good golfer. It is easier to lower your score by making the shot over speeding up the run. You are required to play traditional rules, rake the sand traps, and take a penalty stroke for a lost ball. Running in a zig-zag and looking for a ball will cost valuable time. Locally, Todd Millett and his partners, Frank Lisk, and Matt Sullivan, can be seen playing a version of speed golf on Sunday mornings at 6:30 AM at The Country Club of Scranton. As a threesome, they play 18 holes in 1 hour and 45 minutes. They seem to have fun and someday I hope to join them for the adventure.

The world record was set 3 years ago at a speed golf tournament in Chicago by Christopher Smith with a six under par 65 in 44 minutes and 6 seconds. A typical round of golf takes approximately 4 hours. He accomplished this feat on a regulation course, carrying only 6 clubs and sprinting in between shots. Smith feels that the lack of time to think about the shot or the swing is a good thing because sometimes you think too much and ruin a good swing. Mr. Smith is a 45 year old PGA instructor in Portland, Oregon who has completed two marathons. One can say he has the advantage of being skilled in both golf and running, making him the perfect person for the sport.

Speed golf has some challenges. One, it must be played at a time when no one is on the course within 13 to 15 holes in front of you. Two, one must be relatively fit to play and run a typical 5 to 8 mile course. Three, one must be a fairly consistent golfer to hit a good shot under such physical stress. Four, putting is difficult to perform well when you are breathing heavy. Speed golf also has some advantages. One, you develop your own routine without a long ritual. Two, you become a better putter under pressure if you learn to “pull the trigger” with exhaling. Three, you can have both fun and exercise when you play speed golf. It has to be more fun, you cannot have high expectations when you swing while running. Lastly, with speed golf, you don’t have to go to the gym for exercise after a round of golf.

SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.