On New Year's Eve, Jason Hawkins claimed the title at the inaugural Speedgolf Texas Pro-Am hosted at Wolfdancer Golf Club at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort in Bastrop, Texas - 20 miles outside Austin. The other major winner for the event was the debut of a new Speedgolf format.
heat-by-heat results posted below
Hawkins' victory over a field that included 3 of the top 10 players in the Speedgolf Power Rankings comes on the heels of a top-5 finish at the 2016 Speedgolf World Championships, and is sure to improve his world ranking in the upcoming release on January 15th. Hawkins distanced the field on the strength of a blistering run time (41 minutes) on what may have been the longest course setup in modern Speedgolf history (6,500 yards). Congrats Jason!
SG Heats Format Explained
The final score, as in regular Speedgolf, was the sum of golf strokes and elapsed time, with the slight difference that the time and distance between the last hole of one heat and the first hole of the next heat was not counted. At Wolfdancer this was actually critical, because there were several gaps between holes that were not feasible to cover in a run (one was a steep and slick downhill cartpath, the other would have had players run through the hotel grounds - ha ha!)
There was plenty to like about this new format. Here are a few of the key takeaways:
Unlike a normal competitive Speedgolf round in which each player is completely isolated
from the rest of the action, taking breaks allowed for interaction between everyone involved.
#2 world ranked Allan Phillips & SGTX Pro-Am Champion Jason Hawkins interacting between heats
2. Scoring & Competitive Awareness
This was the first Speedgolf event where hole-by-hole Speedgolf Scores were recorded. By taking breaks between heats to post scores, competitors knew exactly where they
stood relative to the field throughout the tournament.
Hole by hole scores were recorded after each heat
3. Media and Fan-friendly
Both of the above points (Interaction and Competitive Awareness) not only benefit the players, but also anyone else watching. Because a group of four would never be too far apart before regrouping, there are many opportunities to watch several different players in action. For now, periodic updates provided by this new format allow for the emergence of a competitive narrative throughout the round. Eventually, technology will be leveraged to fully capture real time scores and times in the midst of the action.
Garret Holt & his scorer/spectator/wife Shannon smile for the camera while play ensues in the background
This format allows competitors to be grouped together. Since time differences between runners of different speeds would never be too extreme in a short stretch of holes, leaders could be grouped together in multi-round events.
Pro Pod: Garret Holt, Scott Dawley, Jason Hawkins, Allan Phillips
5. The Power Game
Speedgolf is generally known as a game of accuracy above distance. This new format probably doesn’t change that, but with multiple opportunities to hit the ball while “fresh” on the first hole of a heat, and with a bit less residual fatigue, you definitely were more physically able to cut loose with the driver if the hole or strategy called for it.
Allan Phillips prepares to bomb driver
6. Essence Of The Game Preserved
There has been much discussion about alternative Speedgolf formats as a way to grow the game. While this is undoubtedly a worthy discussion of having, several of us have cautioned against deviating too much from the essence of the game, which is to get the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible 18 times as quickly as possible. This format preserved the fundamentals of medal play Speedgolf, with the only differences being periodic stops during the round and travel between certain holes not being counted.
This format could be a real game changer for both competitive and recreational Speedgolf. On the competitive side, it offers all the benefits we covered above (along with some we probably haven’t listed). On the recreational side, the periodic regrouping allows players to enjoy the camaraderie found in regular golf that is lost in the “time trial” style of Speedgolf. Look for this format to only get better as we refine the details at subsequent events.
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