Speed golf brings cardio to course

Mack Kennedy looks for a picture as he runs to his ball at Stillmeadow Country Club.

The participants of the pretournament were, from the left, Paul Landers (third place), Matthew Kennedy (first place) and Mack Kennedy (second place).
Mack Kennedy looks for a picture as he runs to his ball at Stillmeadow Country Club.
By Chris Chaney
Sun staff

Regardless of whether you’re a runner who enjoys the occasional round of golf or a hard-core golf geek who also likes to get in some cardio, Matthew Kennedy has found a way to combine the two into an exciting, time-sensitive sport that can quench both of your fixes.

The sport is called speed golf. Originating in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the sport has combined two hobbies and flipped the script on the slow-play stigma that has come to be associated with a typical round of golf.

“I run marathons and ultramarathons and I do enjoy golf, but I don’t like taking four hours to golf,” Matthew Kennedy, founder of Cincy Speed Golf, said. “This is a great way to get a run in and you get all your swings in, so you get your golf game in and you get your cardio run in. It’s a beautiful combination for me, I really enjoy it.”

The rules of speed golf are pretty simple, especially for those who have a background in or understanding of typical golf rules and etiquette. As you may expect, you run your round of golf while wearing typical golfing attire, with the exception of the option of wearing running shoes in place of golf shoes.

Typical rules and etiquette apply, such as raking bunkers (unless otherwise told by a tournament committee), fixing ball marks, replacing divots, but in an effort to play as fast as possible, players are allowed to putt with the flagstick in the hole.

Similarly in the pursuit of the best time, players are allowed to play all out of bounds as lateral hazards to save from having to return to the spot where the ball was struck, thus adding more time.

Scores are calculated by combining your score for 18 holes and the time it took you to complete the round. For example, if one were to shoot an 89 on 18 holes and complete the course in 1:15 minutes or 75 minutes, their score would be 164 (score + time = total).

In Clermont County, Kennedy has enlisted the help from contacts he has made at Stillmeadow Country Club in Amelia.

“When we run 18 holes around Stillmeadow, it’s about five miles,” Kennedy said. “It’s manicured and rolling and beautiful. It also allows me to play four or five times a week.”

In order to play his round without interrupting others who are out enjoying a round a more normal pace, Kennedy said he usually goes out to the course about an hour before sunset when the course is pretty well cleared.

If he happens to come upon a group of golfers, he has established a relationship with many of the members who are willing to let him pass by without any incident. After all, he says, he might hold them up for maybe a minute and then it’s on to the next hole.

Kennedy has established and registered the Cincy Speed Golf simply out of love for the game. The area chapter is hoping to grow in the coming summer months and held their first pretournament on Saturday, June 15 at Stillmeadow.

The first go at speed golf in Cincinnati had a handful of attendees and Kennedy himself won the first event shooting an 89 in 59 minutes. Kennedy said while the turnout was massive, it was a good gauge for ironing out kinks for more tournaments that he hopes to put on in the future.

Kennedy said that he believes the ideal candidate for speed golf is someone who plays golf regularly and has the cardio training to be able to get around the course.

He said he plays normal rounds with a group on weekend mornings like so many other recreational golfers in the area and surprisingly shoots a similar score during a four-hour round that he does during a his speed golf rounds.

For more information on Cincy Speed Golf, upcoming events and how you can get involved in this new aspect of your golfing or running life, check out Kennedy’s website at cincyspeedgolf.com.