‘Still a blur’: This speedgolfer’s record-breaking round is hard to process

speedgolfer scott dawley

Scott Dawley en route to his mind-bending 65.

IG: scottdawleygolf

What really counts as a fast round of golf?

Last Sunday, Joaquin Niemann turned the race for the FedEx Cup into a sprint when he whipped through 18 holes of the Tour Championship in 1 hour and 53 minutes, a record-setting pace for a Tour pro at East Lake.

Amazing! Remarkable! Incredi. . .wait, slow down.

Because on that same day, another golfer in another competition played a round so quickly, it made Niemann’s outing seem like a slog. 

joaquin niemann sprints tour championship
Pro sets course record, plays round in less than 2 hours at the Tour Championship
By: James Colgan

It happened at the United States Speedgolf Championships, at Horton Smith Golf Course, in Missouri, where Scott Dawley shot a 65 in 42 minutes and 15 seconds, setting a new record in a sport that keeps score as a combo of strokes and time.

Granted, Horton Smith isn’t East Lake-long. But at 6,122 yards in its tournament setup, it required Dawley to cover 4.2 miles at a galloping gait. And unlike Niemann, he was hauling his own clubs — all five of them (driver, hybrid, 8-iron, wedge and putter). 

Dawley’s record, recognized by the event’s organizing body, Speedgolf USA, shattered a previous mark held by Mitch Williamson of Australia, who, in 2016, fired a 77 in 31 minutes and 56 seconds at Yarra Bend Golf Club, in Melbourne.

(Speedgolf sticklers will be quick to note that Guinness World Records recognizes yet another speed golfer, Christopher Smith, as the world-record holder for the 65 he shot in 44 minutes at Jackson Park Golf Course, in Chicago, in 2005; but Guinness was not on hand in Missouri this past weekend, and, anyway, at this point, we’re starting to split hares…err, hairs).

Dawley’s blazing feat took place on the first day of a two-day event. On the second day, he slowed down (slightly), shooting a 77 in 45 minutes to finish runner-up for the tournament behind Jason Hawkins, who backed up an opening round of 72 in 38 minutes with a 73 in 39 minutes.

“Still a blur,” Dawley wrote on Instagram. “I hope rounds like this one … will help change the prevailing paradigm in golf about pace of play.”

For his second-place finish, Dawley pocketed $800 — not Tour-pro money (Niemann banked $405,000 at East Lake) but also not a bad hourly rate.

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A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.