Club Spotlight: Speedgolf Southern California (Speedgolf SoCal)
Founder: Garlin Smith
Based: Los Angeles, Orange County, Temecula
Play: Chester Washington GC, Costa Mesa CC, Temecula Creek Inn
Socials: Speedgolf Southern California (Facebook), @SoCalSpeedgolfer (Instagram)
FORE: How did your club start?
GARLIN: In 2012, CBS Sports aired coverage of the Speed Golf Championship from Bandon Dunes, which caught my eye. I was impressed by seeing these athletes playing a challenging course and running between shots with a handful of clubs. The top players were shooting in the low 70s and finishing their round in about 45 minutes. After doing some research and learning there were no groups in SoCal playing this unique version of golf. I started playing it at a few local courses, inviting a few friends to join each time and have been growing it since.
What is the mission of the club?
The mission is to promote and grow the style of Speedgolf throughout Southern California. We provide opportunities for like-minded people of all ages and skill levels to experience the unique combination of golf and fitness, ultimately allowing players to improve both. We also drive incremental revenue for our golf course partners, since we start playing at sunrise prior to the traditional groups starting their rounds.
What makes your club unique/special/different?
Ha! We play and abide by the exact same rules of traditional golf, except we play much quicker, with players completing 18 holes in between one hour to 90 minutes. This allows us to complete nine or 18 holes, while also improving our fitness levels, all before work. Speedgolf allows busy professionals who may not have time for four- to five-hour rounds or don’t get to the gym as much as they would like, to improve both their golf and fitness simultaneously.
What can members expect being a part of your club?
Most players are initially surprised at how similar their Speedgolf and regular golf scores are once they play a few rounds. Playing Speedgolf removes overthinking and indecision since there is no waiting on groups ahead of you. Also, we carry lightweight bags with four to six clubs, so players become more creative and learn how to manage their way around a course with different clubs. All Speedgolf SoCal members receive discounted rates, Speedgolf SoCal apparel each season and the opportunity to play up to 50 rounds per season, which is from April to September.
On a scale of super casual to Sunday at the Masters, how competitive does your club get?
Super casual. I often refer to our early morning rounds as ‘Speedgolf workouts,’ since they essentially replace going to a fitness class or for a run or to the range. Players are grouped with others of similar abilities, keep their own scores and stay on pace with others in their group.
What are some short-term initiatives and/or long-term initiatives you’d like to accomplish?
Our overall objectives are to grow this version of golf to include more courses and more like-minded players. We would like to help any course start a Speedgolf SoCal club at their facility, which will add incremental revenue without disrupting their regular golf operations, while also attracting new golfers or golfers that don’t have the time for as much ‘traditional’ golf as they would like. Speedgolf also demonstrates that golf doesn’t need to take four-plus hours, will improve/maintain a player’s golf skills and will improve their fitness levels.