Speed Golf (also known as Fitness Golf and Hit and Run Golf) was invented in California in 1979 by American runner Steve Scott as a combination of running and golf. The goal of this sport is to complete a 18-hole golf course shooting the lowest score in the shortest amount of time. The sport is played in North America, Europe and Japan, and major tournaments are telecast by channels such as ESPN and The Golf Channel.
A speedgolfer's score is calculated by adding their golf score to the total time it takes to complete 18 holes. For example, a golf score of 80 combined with a running time of 55 minutes produces a speedgolf score of 135. The lowest score in competition is believed to have been shot by professional Christopher Smith at the Chicago Speedgolf Classic on October 16, 2005. Smith shot 65 in just 44:06 for a speed golf score of 109:06.
Players run between shots and generally carry as few as one or as many as six clubs. They carry their own clubs, usually in a small bag; no caddies or carts are allowed. Rules and etiquette are generally the same for speed golf and regular golf with minor exceptions. Speed golfers are allowed to putt with the flagstick left in the hole, but are expected to rake bunkers, repair ball marks, replace divots and conform to the dress code. Failure to rake a bunker results in a penalty of two shots. If a competitor loses a ball during play, a ball shall be dropped as close as possible to the spot it most likely disappeared. The penalty for a lost ball is one shot.
A competitor who is playing faster than a golfer ahead of him always has the right of way. A simple "fore" by the passing player lets the competitor ahead know that he/she must halt play momentarily while the faster competitor plays through.
Fitness and time savings are obvious benefits of Speed Golf. Many players give up golf exactly for that reason: because it takes too long and players find it hard to fit the time needed to complete 18 holes (in the conventinal way) in a business schedule. However, many players also report improved golf, typically shooting nearly the same scores despite running and using only a few clubs, because the game doesn't give them time to analyze too much. See also: Mental game of golf. Crowded courses are not conducive to play, so many Speed Golfers head out at the crack of dawn or during the cold days of winter when empty courses await and the temperature is suited for running.
International Speedgolf tournaments have been held yearly since 2002.