Ireland’s former World Speedgolf champion Rob Hogan jets off the United States tomorrow determined to win back his world title.
Rob, 29, who won the world title in 2013, will travel to Chicago for the 2015 Speedgolf World Championship. It takes place on October 19-20 at the The Glen Club.
He will join elite speedgolfers from the US, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, the UK and Canada competing for a top prize of $10,000 out of a total purse worth $40,000.
Rob is from Glencree in Co Wicklow. He grew up playing golf at Rathcoole Golf Club in Dublin and Woodbrook Golf Club in Bray before becoming a PGA golf professional and becoming assistant pro in Bray Golf Club for three years.
He currently lives in Galway, where he combines training for the Speedgolf tournaments with coaching golf at Craigmore Golf Club. When he is back in Wicklow, Rob practices at Druids Heath Golf Club. His friend Robert Hurley is the captain there and the club has been a great to help his preparations for the World Speedgolf Championships.
Speedgolf scores are a combination of stroke play and time. Each shot is 60 seconds and the total number of shots is added to the time it takes a player to complete his round. Rob’s best round in competition is 110 – a round of 77 which took him 33 minutes to complete – which he posted in London at the recent UK championship.
Rob said: “I started playing Speedgolf in 2008 and played a few exhibitions in Bray and Foxrock. But it was in 2012 when I took it up properly, partly as a way to get fit. I found out about the World Speedgolf Championships in Oregon, qualified for that and came seventh and realised that if I trained properly I had a chance of winning it.
“I’ve played about eight tournaments over the past three years in the United States, UK and Australia and I’ve won five of them – including the world championships in 2013 – and come second in all the others.
“I’m lucky that I found this sport which marries a couple of the abilities I have. I just happened upon it. I was already a pretty good runner and then it turned out I could play just as good or better golf by playing better.”
Speefdgolf is not a sport someone would play to become rich. It takes a lot of practice, training and dedication. Rob has been sponsored by Bray-based company Hard Metal, which is Ireland’s leading supplier of machine cutting tools and solutions. Rob said that without their support he wouldn’t be able to make it to Chicago.
“I’m confident heading over to Chicago for the World Speedgolf Championships. I won it in 2013 and only lost by a shot last year. But I’m better prepared now and think I’ve got a really good chance of going well over there,” Rob said.
“Hard Metal’s support is absolutely instrumental to getting over to the US. The last few years have been on a shoe string. It’s been self-funded largely but Hard Metal have been amazing in getting me over there and kitting me out for the championships. They’ve made sure I’ve got everything I need.”
The USGA Rules of golf apply to Speedgolf but with two exceptions: a) speedgolfers are allowed to putt with the flagstick left in the hole, and b) in the case of a lost ball or one that is hit out of bounds, players are permitted to play it like a lateral hazard.
To lighten the load and increase speed, speedgolfers wear running shoes in place of golf shoes and typically carry only 4–7 clubs.
Hard Metal is Ireland’s leading machine tools supplier, providing cutting and grinding tools and productivity solutions to engineering manufacturers throughout Ireland. The company is based in Bray and has its mainwarehouse depot in Shannon, Co Clare.
Customers include leading medical devices multinationals Stryker, Zimmer and DePuy, aerospace giants Bombardier and Lufthansa, oil and gas industry multinational Cameron, and hundreds of large and small subcontractors and engineering manufacturers spanning the length and breadth of the island of Ireland.