Date: August 31, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Mitch the world�s fastest golfer

Audio: Mitch Williamson on Melbourne radio

Imagine this, if you can.

You’re standing on the third tee of your Saturday competition round at the same time Mitch Williamson is signing for a 77 having teed off at the same time.

That’s the almost unthinkable pace the one-time New South Wales trainee professional set at the weekend to win the Australian Speed Golf Championship, establishing a new world record in the process.

Williamson, of Orange, fired a seven-over-par 77 at Melbourne’s Yarra Bend Golf Club in just 31 minutes and 54 seconds to post a speed golf score of 108:54 (combined score and time), surpassing the previous mark of 109:06 by American Christopher Smith.

And to cap a remarkable weekend for the Williamson family, Mitch’s sisters Nicole and Carrie finished one-two in the women’s open division with scores of 151 and 152, respectively.

And fellow New South Welshman Jarred Dries, from Pennant Hills Golf Club in Sydney, won the amateur division scoring 128 just a year after taking up the sport to highlight his potential.

All four will head to the world championships in Chicago in October.

This morning, after his epic weekend achievement including toppling Irish world champion Robert Hogan, Williamson said the magnitude of his record still hadn’t dawned.

“Not really, I’m still … feeling the effects of a tough round (because) it’s a tough course,” Williamson told Radio SEN.

“I’m sure it will hit me in the next few days. I put in some big training in the past couple of months.”

Williamson, a regular competitor in regional and state athletic events in New South Wales, said he came to speed golf by chance, having found the nomadic lifestyle of a trainee pro a test for his fitness.

“The lifestyle was a lot of travelling and fast food, so I took up running to get fit for that.

“Then I actually enjoyed the running more than the golf, so I’m now a runner who plays golf as an amateur on the weekends.

“I’m off a scratch handicap, but running is my main sport now.”

Williamson said he’d taken quantum leaps down in times after watching Hogan play at last year’s world championship in the United States.

“I found I was spending 20sec per hole on the green longer than him and … that works out to be 5-6 minutes a round,” Williamson said.

“So I figured out that on the green I needed to be quicker and trained a lot for that.

“Obviously you have to run fast between your shots, but the key is not to spend too much time on your shots and just have a quick look.

“Your brain adjusts and tells you have how far you have to hit it (and)  I’ve played golf since I was four years old, so that helps with my distances.”

Williamson half-joked that playing such rapid rounds had reshaped his idea of traditional golf where he now “struggles to concentrate” for the four-and-a-half hours of a competition round.

But he said speed golf had shown him an unexpected insight from which “normal” golfers could benefit.

“Time brings in doubt. If you’re standing there thinking about a shot, negative thoughts normally enter your mind, not positive ones,” he said.

“With (speed golf) I find no negative thoughts come into your mind. With long shots it’s very good for your game, but putting is a lot harder and you don’t get to read the putts – downhill, uphill or the breaks.”

For the record, Hogan was runner-up in the elite division with a time of 32 minutes and a score of 79 giving him a total score of 111.