‘Most Golfers Think I’m Crazy’

Speed­golfer Ge­orge Box­all

Runner's World (UK) - - In This Issue -

Elec­tri­cian Ge­orge Box­all hasn’t looked back since he dis­cov­ered that the two sports he was pas­sion­ate about – run­ning and golf – could be com­bined in a sin­gle pur­suit. With his low hand­i­cap and steady marathon pace he fin­ished third in his first Bri­tish Speed­golf Cham­pi­onships, in 2016. He was com­pet­ing in the 2017 event as we went to press.

‘I’D NEVER HEARD OF SPEED­GOLF TWO YEARS AGO. My boss saw a poster and he’d heard me talk so much about run­ning and golf that he en­cour­aged me to go for it. I never ex­pected to come third on my first at­tempt.

I WAS NEVER HAP­PIER than when do­ing some­thing sporty as a kid. I played a lot of foot­ball, but golf took over as soon as I hit my first ball at the age of 13.

KEEP­ING FIT WAS MY MO­TI­VA­TION when I took up run­ning in 2012. I en­tered the Brighton Marathon just for the ex­pe­ri­ence, and got hooked. I’ve done three marathons now. My per­sonal best is 3:33:32. Ev­ery­one asks why I didn’t slow down to get the per­fect run of threes. It would have looked good but who thinks that clearly at the fin­ish line?

I’M A BET­TER SPEED­GOLFER THAN GOLFER be­cause I don’t have time to over­think my shots. It’s al­ways been my weak­ness in reg­u­lar golf, which is why I haven’t got be­low a four hand­i­cap.

DIS­TANCE ISN’T AN IS­SUE IN SPEED­GOLF be­cause you’ll only cover about five miles for 18 holes. But it’s chal­leng­ing be­cause it’s stop­start and you don’t re­ally get to switch off. The game is scored by adding the time taken to the num­ber of shots taken.

I’M A GOOD ALL-ROUNDER. In the 2016 Cham­pi­onships, the win­ner ran six min­utes faster but took five more shots. The guy in sec­ond was seven-and-a-half min­utes slower than me but shot eight bet­ter. I was in third and just one point sep­a­rated the three podium places.

RE­MEM­BER­ING TO WATCH THE BALL is a big chal­lenge. It’s so easy to smack it, grab your bag, and sprint off but then you sud­denly re­alise you have no idea where it landed, and los­ing time look­ing for a ball is the last thing you need.

MOST GOLFERS THINK I’M CRAZY. They watch me blast round the course and are a bit stunned. But you don’t have to start off like that – your first round could just be a prom­ise not to take prac­tice swings and to walk more quickly. Peo­ple are of­ten sur­prised to find their golf isn’t much worse than it would be in a reg­u­lar round. Duff shots are part of it though. I’ve never had an air shot, but I have had a few that didn’t get air­borne.

PITCH­ING AND PUTTING ARE THE HARD­EST be­cause your heart’s beat­ing fast and your breath­ing is er­ratic – that’s where be­ing a good golfer re­ally helps. Three deep breaths will only take five sec­onds so it is worth it.

CHOOS­ING CLUBS IS ONE OF THE BIG­GEST DE­CI­SIONS. You can take up to seven and I usu­ally take them all be­cause I am a de­cent golfer, but if you’re more of a run­ner you might only take two or three, so you have less weight.

IF SPEED­GOLF TOOK OFF I COULD GO PRO. But I like what I’m do­ing. I have a de­cent job, I play golf and I run – what’s not to like?’ british­speed­golf.co.uk

Ge­orge Box­all fin­ished third in his first Bri­tish Speed­golf Cham­pi­onships last year. It seems the speed re­quired means he doesn’t over­think his shots.

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