Napa, California – For Paul Kivela, Emergency Medicine Doctor at Queen of the Valley Medical Center, the game of golf is much more than a "good walk spoiled." In fact, it doesn’t involve walking at all. "Marathon Speed Golf is my game," Kivela explains. "To be honest, I don’t know if I’m a runner with golfing issue or a golfer with a running issue. So I put them all together and this is how it’s done."
Kivela was the winner of the Lake Tahoe Marathon Speed Golf event last Thursday, one of 17 participants chasing little, white balls and each other around the Tahoe Paradise Golf Course. Over the 18-hole contest Kivela finished first and tied for the lowest score, with a 17-over-par 83.
Asked why he and other Speed Golf devotees have decided to combine two such seemingly different sports, Kivela said. "We’re busy people. I mean, who’s got time to spend 4 ½ hours walking around a golf course anymore? And then you try to work a fitness run into your schedule? This way I get my golf and my running all done at the same time. And both sports wind up being a lot more fun."
Kivela demonstrated a blend of endurance, speed and golf mastery that left most of the field in the… grass.
The ranks of the 16 "also golfs" included 1982 Boston Marathon runner-up Dick Beardsley, famous for his "Duel in the Sun" with Alberto Salazar where he ran a world-class 2:08:53 and lost to Salazar by only two seconds. Beardsley was not surprised or disappointed by his 45:34/116, ninth-place finish on Thursday. "I had so much fun ... the most fun I’ve ever had golfing," he said. "And I shot better than I usually do when I play golf."
Kivela plans to continue his aerobic training and hone his golfing skills in the months ahead and continue to participate in Speed Golf events whenever his busy schedule permits. "I can’t think of a better way to stay fit and have fun," he says. "And since the sport is becoming more popular and competitive, every year, I’m going to need all practice I can get."