Is It Possible To Play 18 Holes In Just 30 Minutes?

Bunker Mentality's Luke Willett will put us all to shame, and maybe his name in the record books, as he attempts to tackle all 18 holes at The Springs GC on Friday.

Luke Willett The Iron Golfer Speed Golf Bunker Mentality

The Oxfordshire club will play host, most likely at 8am, to a man and his team who is capable of some extraordinary things. It’s worth a look at his website to see what he’s capable of but, for now, we’ll focus on next week.

What are the logistics looking like for next week?

We’ll have someone on a buggy timing me and also a drone. Tim Lobb will be a pacemaker and doing six-minute miles as a pacemaker and another guy will also be running round. We’ll keep it very intimate with the Covid situation. We did this a few years ago at Woking which was the wrong golf course but I just love it – it was like the Wacky races, all the greenkeeping staff were following us, it was was mental. I got round in 40 minutes but next week will be on a flatter course

What do you have to beat?

There is a speed golf world record which is 108 which is your time in minutes and your score so if you went round in 38 minutes you’ll have shot 70 which is pretty good going. If I went round in 75 that would be a good score but it’s so dependent on weather, we’ll see.

How do you prepare for this type of thing?

I train three days a week so I can let my body recover. To train well the next week so I’ll need a full day off which won’t include any golf. Rest takes confidence, the natural thing is to try and out-train everyone but you will get injured and your immune system will get shot to pieces. You are ripping your body to shreds with the speed stuff.

I’ll do 200-metre uphill sprints on a 30˚ gradient and do that for about 90 minutes, so I’ll sprint up the hill and just jog down. I’m just going to do a fast-paced 10km. Then I’ll finish with a good hour of stretching and work on my range of motion – the longer the stride, the faster I go. It’s so important to stretch and that and rest is my big thing now.

How about the golf side of it?

It’s the ultimate constraint, your heart is beating like a runaway train and you’ve got to hit a ball well and close. If you were to add five seconds to every shot you’re adding five minutes to your round, one look at the target all adds time. The skill to hitting a ball while running round is something else. I’ve learnt that we’re all pretty good and we practise without even knowing it in our daily life. My first time of speed golf I was shocked how well I played. I’ve taken out 15-handicappers and they’ve said that they’ve not felt that way since 16, you’re fearless and you’re not worried about the yippy chip or snap hook.

The hardest thing is the putting. I’ve always been a grafter, if it was a boxing match I would be the one who would keep getting back up again. I’m happy to go through pain - I did 12 marathons in 12 weeks - and I’m happy to put myself on the line and to explore those limits. I rarely miss a fairway and it comes down to getting the ball in hole when you’ve got sweat going over your eyes and your eyes are singing and your heart’s pounding out your chest. Your skills are honed, to take them into an uncomfortable place physically and see how that affects those skills is something else.   

So you won’t be using a rangefinder then!?

As a society there’s lots of great technology but we’re a bit too used to it now and we have lost that ability to upskill on the go and problem solve. You can use your feet or the air temperature or the wind through your hair. To feel pain, physical or mental, even getting a yardage wrong, that’s what it is to feel alive. By having all these home comforts around us we’re putting too much cotton wool around us. We’re in the great outdoors and that is forever changing, it’s a step into the unknown and we should embrace that.