Golfers feel need to speed
MEYERS – When have you ever seen out-of-breath golfers?
There were 16 of them on Wednesday following the third annual Extreme Golf Tournament at Tahoe Paradise Golf Course. The first official event of the Lake Tahoe Marathon Week requires participants to complete the 18-hole layout as fast as they can while maintaining the lowest golf score possible.
Golfers are often warned by course marshals for slow play, but Mark Lyda of Eugene, Ore., could have been lectured for playing too quickly on Wednesday. Lyda completed the 4-kilometer loop in 36 minutes, 51 seconds and golfed well enough to win the title.
Lyda dethroned two-time champion Darrell Schue of South Lake Tahoe. Schue finished a point and a half behind Lyda.
“I’m not a great golfer,” said Lyda, who carded a score of 84 and finished with a record total of 120.51. “It was fun, that’s the most important thing.”
Lyda also eclipsed Schue’s record score of 121.23, which was set a year prior.
Competitors were allotted three clubs, and the top players carried a wedge or 9 iron and a putter but differed on their driving club. Lyda went with a five iron, while fourth-place finisher Chris Whatford used his trusty five wood.
“The running affected my score by about six strokes. I seemed to hit my pitching wedge well when I needed to,” said Whatford, a South Tahoe High sophomore who improved his golf score by four strokes and running time by 2 minutes compared to last year’s performance.
Whatford’s time of 19:25 for nine holes was the fastest among the 16 participants. But Lyda’s conditioning proved to be the difference over the back nine as he finished with the fastest overall time at 36:51, compared to Whatford’s 38:50.
“Coming up the hill on the back (nine), he was trying to have a conversation, and I couldn’t talk,” Whatford said.
Staggered tee times spread out most of the field, and players were permitted to pass competitors where appropriate. Lyda overtook Whatford, the first off the tee, on the 17th hole. They played the final hole side by side, with Whatford needing to yell “four” on his approach shot to the 18th green. Lyda protected himself by ducking his head as Whatford’s shot settled to his right on the back of the green. Lyda two-putted to complete his 36-minute round of golf.
“He ultimately was faster than me, so coming down I was just trying to keep up with him,” Whatford said.
Schue crafted the best golf round, shooting a 9-over 75, but his running time of 47:07 was only the fifth-fastest.
“We had some runners out there this year,” Schue said. “Chris is just a rabbit, and he’s a good golfer, too.”
Brett Long, a former decathlete at Cal Poly, tried the event for the first time and learned that he’s isn’t a good golfer on the run.
“I had no idea I was gonna be duffing this hard,” said Long, who finished 13th. “If I would have stood still for five seconds before a shot, it would have been time well spent. It’s a lot like triathlons where you have to transition and keep your head together.”
Long was fortunate that his girlfriend resides adjacent to the 11th hole. With his supply of golf balls running low, she was able to give him a few extra balls as he played the 12th hole.
“I started with at least 10,” Long said.
Like 15 other extreme golfers, Long, however, broke a good sweat and finished with a smile on his face.