With the Australian Grand Prix track providing a fitting backdrop, Lee McCullagh and Liz McKinnon showed the pace, poise, precision and driving ability that will be required to win the upcoming race to take out the men’s and women’s titles at the 2018 Australian Speedgolf Open at Albert Park Golf Course on Saturday.
29-year-old McCullagh, a two-handicapper from Bendigo in Victoria with a 5km PB of 16 minutes, shot 80 in 47 minutes and 26 seconds on a hot, windy day in Melbourne. This score narrowly edged out Richard Olsen, the 2016 New Zealand Speedgolf Open champion and former elite 1500m runner. Remarkably, this was McCullagh’s first speedgolf event. One suspects it may not be his last.
McCullagh was at pains to thank the many volunteers who made the event possible.
“Thanks to Ross, my running scorer, and all the members of the Crosbie Crew who did such a great job for the other competitors. A big thank you also goes to Virginia Deigan for making today so special. The collaboration between a local running club and speedgolf provides a great model for future events.”
New Zealand went one better in the women’s event, which saw former Ladies European Tour professional Liz McKinnon record a massive PB en route to victory. She navigated the challenging conditions beautifully to record a round of 77 in 51:32.
“I work full-time for New Zealand Golf in high performance and I’m a mum to a six-year-old and an eight-year-old, so speedgolf is a great way to keep playing golf,” said McKinnon, who was clearly delighted with her performance on Saturday.
Liz plays speedgolf regularly at Remuera Golf Club, where New Zealand Golf is now based, and is seeing the sport growing across the ditch.
“I love playing speedgolf. It’s such a buzz. The greenkeepers and staff at Remuera Golf Club have been great. A lot of New Zealand Golf staff get out at least once a week. The members don’t tee off until 07:30 so that gives us plenty of time and daylight in the summer months to get a round in before the members have even teed off.”
Liz wasn’t the only player in the field with professional golf credentials. PGA professional James McMaster from Drummond Golf in Canberra finished a creditable fifth – shooting 79 in 52:13 in a round that included two chip-ins!
Full results are available at http://tiny.cc/asgo.