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Bandon Dunes to host 2013 World Speed Golf Championship
by Randall Schwartz, amateurgolf.com Member

BANDON, Oregon -- Last year, we were at Bandon Dunes to participate in the Amateurgolf.com 2-man Two Man Links Championship, the highlight of my golf year every year. As timing would have it, we were fortunate to be there when the latest course opened, the Bandon Preserve Par-3 course. On May 1st, the course was to open at 6:45 AM. My brother Keith and I woke up early to observe the festivities. Coffee in hand, we trudged over to the first tee to find around 40 people gathered around, including Mike Keiser, the owner and founder of the Bandon Dunes resort, and Bill Coore, who, along with Ben Crenshaw was the designer of the project. All were greeted with a perfect morning on the Oregon coast.

To initiate the course, Mike Keiser invited Chris Smith, the world record speed golfer to be the first golfer off the tee. I was looking forward to the exhibition because I had never seen it done in person. The course looked tremendous, much in the style of the other spectacular courses at Bandon; fabulous scenery, the holes blending into the surrounding area, looking challenging and imaginative. Smith teed off, picked up his light tote bag with 6 clubs (dressed in running tights and running shoes) and took off jogging down the first tee. Assuming that there would be a group going around with the speed golfer, I took off at a fast walking pace. It wasn’t until I had reached the first green that I realized I was the only one following Chris. There weren’t even any markers on the course to keep score or at least make sure he played all 13 holes. Chalk it up to the honesty of golf. So he and I took off for a round of speed golf on the virgin Bandon Preserve course.

I kept up with Chris at a fast walking pace as he jogged along. I was surprised that he took his time with each shot, breathing and taking a few practice swings, like a biathlete in the Olympics, focusing on making good shots. I was just trying to stay out of his way, imagining that he would have set a record time except that some dumbbell tripped him on the second hole. Not only was the speed golf fascinating to watch, but each divot the he took out of the virgin course was the first. I kept thinking of the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

Finally on the third hole, Chris turned to me and said, “Are you just going to watch, or are we going to talk?” From then on we were a team. The view of the adjacent Bandon Dunes golf course and the ocean beyond, with the gorse in its full bright yellow bloom, was spectacular. Our speed golfer was lofting shots into the morning air with solid procession, hitting every green. He was mostly playing for the wider part of the green but put a few close. No putts would go down, but the string of solid pars continued. And I was keeping up at a fast walk and occasional jog.

We played so quickly that we came up on the 11th hole and the maintenance staff was still on the green. I had to jog up and warn them of Chris’ approach. We came to the final hole, one more solid shot to 5 feet. One last rimmed put. Thirteen greens hit, 13 pars, in twenty two minutes and fifty five seconds. A great round with Chris Smith that I won’t soon forget. And a new course is opened for all.

EDITOR’s NOTE: Bandon Dunes Resort is hosting the 2013 World Speed Golf Championship; if you are interested in seeing what it’s all about (and perhaps learning to play faster in the process) tune in to CBS on Saturday, April 13 prior to Masters coverage at 1:30 EST/10:30PST.

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