By Paul Gueorgieff,
editor Golfer Pacific
Contestants from the United States and Europe are expected to play in the New Zealand Speedgolf Open at Rotorua in March.
This year will be the third running of the tournament but an added attraction for overseas visitors is that it forms the first leg of an Australasian double.
The New Zealand event, sponsored by Toro, will be hosted by the Rotorua Golf Club at Arikikapakapa from March 4-5 and the following weekend there will be the Australian Speedgolf Open in Sydney.
The Rotorua tournament has previously attracted about 50 players but that could double to 100 this year, said Rotorua Lakes Council major events co-ordinator Jason Cameron.
“The event is growing,’’ Cameron told Golfer Pacific.
“It is now part of an Australasian tour. There is quite a movement developing around speed golf. It’s played in more than 10 countries around the world now.’’
Last year’s tournament was graced with the presence of world champion Rob Hogan of Ireland but he was beaten by Dunedin teacher Richard Olsen. The latter is expected to defend his title in March while other top New Zealander contenders likely to play are Landyn Edwards of Rotorua and Nick Willis, back in the country after his Rio Olympic bronze medal in the 1500m. Edwards won the inaugural tournament in 2015 when beating speed golf trail blazer Willis.
Speed golf is scored by adding together the player’s golf score and time of play. For example the winning score of Olsen last year was 117.48 which comprised a golf score of 75 coupled with atime of 42 minutes 48 seconds.
Players only carry a handful of clubs, sometimes putt one-handed and are permitted to hole the ball without removing the flagstick.
“You can’t over-think your shots,’’ Cameron said.
“It’s line it up, hit it and run to the next shot.’’
Cameron said this year’s tournament is being expanded to include a greater number of social players.
“It’s a competitive event but it’s a social event as well. There are a number of different categories that people can play in,’’ he said.
In addition to the main event there will also be a social event where players can choose to play both or one day of the weekend and a pairs event where players alternate the holes they play.
Toro New Zealand’s Chris Todd said that the future of golf relies on new thinking and ways of doing things.
“It’s exciting to see top athletes demonstratingtheir skills on golf courses,’’ Todd said.
“It makes for a great fit with Toro and its commitment to high performance.”