Recreation: Divot Derby

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Outside magazine, May 1994

Recreation: Divot Derby
By Ken McAlpine

A pastoral fairway. Sunshine lacquering a relaxed, plaid-pantsed foursome as they wait for the green to clear. Suddenly, wasp-waisted runners in wraparound shades play through, slashing turf like Chi-Chi Rodriguez on amphetamines.

Make way for the latest sports hybrid: speed golf. Formerly the domain of drunken frat boys and ex-president George Bush, the frenetic sport is hot among distance runners looking for a fun way to train. At last November’s edition of the Power Bar Speed Golf Challenge, held at San Diego’s Ram’s Hill Country Club, Steve Scott played 18 holes in 37 minutes–running at a 5:30-mile
clip while carding a 90–and he only took second. The world’s fastest golfer is Thom Hunt, who shot an 86 in 40 minutes.

What does it take? Speed, for one thing. Hunt once owned the American 10k record; Scott holds the American mile record. And pretty good golf, for another. Make haste between shots, advises Hunt, but don’t hurry the strokes themselves, and keep the ball in play. Short and straight is better than gorilla blasts that scorch hairlines on the clubhouse patio.

With more tournaments on the horizon, are the sport’s traditionalists getting speed-golf fever? “Not a chance,” says former Masters tournament champion Gary Player. “The average golfer struggles to walk nine holes, never mind run. You’d see people dying of heart attacks.”

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