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Speed Golf: No lost time in this game

Steve Yingling / Tahoe Daily TribuneThe top-3 finishers in the Lake Tahoe Marathon Week Speed Golf Tournament are Paul Kivela, right; Jeff Urbanski, left, and Chris Whatford.
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MEYERS – Paul Kivela plays the game of golf at a pace that leaves time for an entire day of other activities.

Kivela defended his Lake Tahoe Marathon Week Speed Golf title on Thursday at Tahoe Paradise Golf Course. The Napa-area resident did it by bolting through the 4,000-plus yard layout in 36 minutes. Combined with his golf score of 83, Kivela won by a comfortable four-point margin over Jeff Urbanski of Vacaville.

“I wish I could have golfed a little better,” Kivela said. “It was work. It was fun competing, but it wasn’t my best.”



Kivela showed he isn’t too far removed from his collegiate cross country days when he was part of a Big 10 championship team with Illinois back in the 1980s. He completed his 4-kilometer golf outing while lugging around three golf clubs in 36 minutes.

“I say speed golf is the sport of the future,” Kivela said. “Here is the ultimate thing to get in 18 holes on a beautiful morning, get in your miles at the same time and still be able to take the kids to school and have family time.”



Two South Shore residents fared well in the 5-year-old event: Chris Whatford, a senior at South Tahoe High School, finished third at 125 and two-time champion Darrell Schue was fifth at 147. Schue also posted the tournament’s best golf round, shooting a 77. The former champion tried a different strategy of taking more time with his golf shots at the expense of his running time.

With much of the course playing uphill, the competitors’ endurance levels were severely tested.

“It helps knowing the course because you know where there are uphills and downhills,” Whatford said. “You know where to push yourself because you know you are going to have a three-hole break where it’s going to be all downhill.”

Like Schue, Whatford slowed down his pace, too.

“I went a little slower this year to try to make those three-foot putts,” he said.

Whatford, who has been a consistent top-3 finisher over the past four years, says he will have to prepare differently in order to earn that elusive victory.

“It’s going to take a little more running. I haven’t run this far since last year. I need to take it a little more seriously a month before it,” he said.

The turnout was down from a record 17 players last year to nine on Thursday.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t have as many,” said Les Wright, Lake Tahoe Marathon Week race director. “We had three or four people cancel out at the last second. We had three awards for women and none showed.

“We need golf courses to honor speed golfers when they come out in the morning.”

Kivela can’t understand the disappointing turnout either.

“Maybe it’s the day of the week, but I think there should easily be 40 golfers out here,” he said.


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