Former Notre Dame standout Chris Walker is now a SpeedGolf world champion.
The first-ever SpeedGolf World Championships took place Oct. 20-21 at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore., with 14 players from around the world competing for the inaugural title.
The two-round event – Saturday at Old Macdonald and Sunday at Bandon Dunes – combined golf and running. A player’s total score is computed by adding the number of strokes to the time it took to complete the round. For example, Walker shot 77 in 53 minutes, 29 seconds, on the first day, then shot 76 in 56:59 for a two-day total of 263.28.
“You definitely have to be a certain kind of golfer for speed golf,” said Walker, a native of The Woodlands, Texas.
Walker had never heard of speed golf until he received an email from Tim Scott, who has been a top speed golfer for years.
Scott had sent an email to all players in the field at the Adams Pro Golf Tour stop in Oklahoma, asking if players were interesting in participating in the SpeedGolf World Championships. In that email he also mentioned that players had to be in top physical shape.
“I’m not a runner, per se,” Walker said. “But when I do my golf workouts, I run a little bit.”
He was instantly interested and excited.
Walker trained over the next three to four weeks. He’d take the day’s first tee time to allow himself to speed through his round.
“I usually ran into the maintenance workers in the morning, but the nice part was you played 18 holes in under an hour, and you have the rest of the day free,” Walker said.
He carries only a tiny bag, about six golf clubs and a few golf balls.
“It’s definitely unique,” he said.
Walker had a one-shot lead after the first round at Bandon Dunes. He said he played slightly slower on the second day because of fatigue and as he tried to play more strategically with the lead.
“I figured if I just put together a solid round on Day 2, I would have a good chance to win,” Walker said.
But what he didn’t know was that walking to the 18th tee box, he had to make birdie to win by one.
When he made the birdie putt, he thought he would have a good chance at winning, but wasn’t exactly sure.
“It felt great,” he said about making that putt. “I just dropped to my knees. Probably more out of exhaustion than actually winning.”
He and his group went into the scoring tent, did the required math – adding the scores and the times – and he came out a victor.
“It was an absolute honor to have won the SpeedGolf World Championship and to compete with both athletes and golfers on that level,” he said.
This year, Walker didn’t try to earn a PGA Tour card through Q-School. He wants to keep improving his game, and take that next step in being a professional when the time feels right. He’ll play on the Adams Winter Tour and try to Monday qualify for as many Web.com Tour events as possible next year to try and earn status on the developmental tour.
One thing is for certain: He’ll be back to defend his SpeedGolf World Championship title next year.