"What makes you a 'Speedgolf pioneer'?"
Several years ago, before I founded SGUSA, a prominent member of the Speedgolf community emailed me that question. He had come across that description – 'Speedgolf pioneer', on my Twitter bio. The suggestion by the email was that I was, in fact, not one.
If anyone could call themselves a 'Speedgolf pioneer' it was certainly this person, but the answer was obvious to me: I knew it in my heart. Speedgolf was the calling I had been waiting for throughout my 20's and into my early 30's. I was prepared to devote the rest of my professional career to the sport of Speedgolf. I was ready to risk it all!
A pioneer is someone who sees potential, an innovator who is willing to try new things. A pioneer pushes boundaries to advance a cause or idea or break a record. - Pioneers of Flight
The word "pioneer" originally referred to 'a soldier involved in digging trenches, from the same root word as peon or pawn.'
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a pioneer as, 'a person or group that originates or helps open up a new line of thought or activity or a new method or technical development.'
I like the description at Dictionary.com: 'a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others. One who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress.
Discovering Speedgolf when I did, in late 2012, was like cresting a steep hill in my career and overlooking an uninhabited fertile river valley. My dreams of a PGA Tour career were fading over the horizon behind me, but this young, hybrid sport offered me new life as an athlete.
At that time, a Speedgolf score of 130 (77 in 53) was pretty solid. In fact, a couple rounds like that won Christopher Walker the inaugural Speedgolf World Championships at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. In 2013, I finished 5th in my first SWC, crushing Walker's 2-day winning total the previous year by 10 strokes. In 2020, if you don't break 120 you probably won't podium.
But competition wasn't the only draw for me. After an unsuccessful attempt at q-schooI in 2008, I spent the next four years at a start-up venture – wearing all the hats and putting all the pieces into place for a successful company launch.
As an entrepreneur, Speedgolf was the perfect way to transfer my skillset into a field I was truly passionate about: golf! I saw the opportunity to develop and commercialize a young sport – to be a pioneer, and I jumped in head first!
Back then, when I was projecting a forward looking statement about my place in the Speedgolf universe, I can see how my Twitter description could have been called into question. Now that I've been pioneering Speedgolf for the last 7 years, it's safe to say I have earned (aka - paid for) the title!
Here's the truth: I am not the first or the last Speedgolf pioneer. I've jumped headlong into the trenches that were first dug out by Steve Scott, the inventor of Speedgolf, in the late 70's. His work was carried forward by legends like Bob Babbitt in the 80's, Jay Larson in the 90's, and the guys at Speedgolf International at the turn of the century through the first 5 Speedgolf World Championships from 2012-2016.
SGI Founders: Tim Scott, Jim Kosciolek, Christopher Smith (2013)
Who knows where we'd be without Mike Keiser's support, or Christopher Smith's promotion, or Tim Scott, or Jim Kosciolek, or Dale Stockamp, or the unrecorded efforts of countless others, but just as crucial to the story.
Many of my fellow pioneers are reading this. Together we are moving their (mostly thankless) work forward, preparing a way for the masses to enjoy this incredible, exhilarating golf discipline.
We have made significant progress in the last few years. But how far will we push the boundaries with our time in the trenches? 100 years from now, what will Speedgolfers remember about our work?
In 2020, SGUSA will make big strides as a sporting association, and many new opportunities are going to emerge: the chance to host an event, start a local league, sponsor a tournament, maybe even start a small business offering products and services the Speedgolf community needs.
The question is... what makes you a Speedgolf pioneer?
5 Traits of a Pioneer
Thanks for reading today. In the next blog, we'll take a deeper dive into the vision and mission of Speedgolf USA and the International Speedgolf Alliance.
As a member of the SGUSA Pioneers Club you get exclusive access to 'The Inside Track', a behind-the-scenes blog where Scott Dawley shares the untold history of Speedgolf's development – the struggles, the triumphs, the obstacles, and the forces that are shaping the future of our sport.