H Town Run Tourist Honorable Mentions

Speedgolf USA Founder: Scott Dawley

Courtesy of Scott Dawley

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx


It is not often that I meet someone who, when telling me his story, had me at the edge of my seat. It was a story I knew all too well and I loved hearing it all over again. I'm talking about Speed Golf USA founder, Scott Dawley.

Author's own

Let me back up to 2015. I had just decided to take the leap of converting my blog, I Hope I Come Back Alive to Houston Tourism Gym (I went through a few iterations). I had just become a tourist of Houston. One night, I was on the internet looking for a race. I stumbled upon this race called Links Run. You got to run a foot race on a golf course. I immediately signed up.

So, I did the race. I had the time of my life and I got some amazing pictures. At the end, they were serving hot dogs, chips and sodas. I was looking for my first project as I Hope I Come Back Alive Tourism Gym. I started looking for the person responsible for the race. His name was Scott. I went up to him and pitched my amazing idea. A pop-up restaurant and farmer's market called the Green at the Finish Line. He loved it and brought me on.

I had not seen him since the end of the project. Needless to say, I loved connecting with him again. I swear to God. It is like I'm talking to white, male me.

Courtesy of Scott Dawley

One of the main reasons why I say this is because Scott and I are prodigal children. We started out good, but given a little freedom, we went buck ass wild. But, like myself, he is resilient. And he is doing something truly amazing. Let's hear it from him.

Last week, I wrote an article on Speedgolf. For those who missed it, what is Speedgolf?

Speedgolf is the funner, more fitness oriented game of golf. It takes way less time and because you are in constant movement, you become a keener, sharper player. Players run or jog to each hole instead of using a cart. The score is the number of strokes and the running time combined. The lowest score wins.

If you talk to Scott, you can see how passionate he is about this sport. He is dedicated to disrupting the traditional game of golf.

Courtesy of Scott Dawley

You and I are both pioneers. You for Speedgolf and me for long distance walking tours in Houston. When you are one of a few people doing something new, you have to learn how to take a punch, insults, and the sting from your own mistakes. Who are you to think you can succeed at what most people will not even try? Wink, wink.

After leaving my job to become an entrepreneur, I learned to wear all the hats and solve many different problems. I brought that mindset into speedgolf and couldn't help but see a huge opportunity: commercialize the sport.

And I'm just too damn crazy to know any better.

What is it about Speedgolf that attracted you so much?

Well, I played golf my whole life, but I had never been a runner before June 2012. When I decided to leave my job and play professionally again, I was almost at 200lbs. I went Vegan, and pretty soon I had so much energy. One night, I could not sleep so my wife told me to get up and go for a run. I fell in love with running that night. A few months later, I saw a banner ad for Speedgolf and the idea was immediately attractive to me. After my first tournament in 2013, I was hooked. The community was so welcoming and passionate. The concept was new, fresh, and it felt like I was meant to find this sport and help it grow.

What does it take to organize the Speedgolf championships?

Like any other event, there are logistics, advertising, volunteers, and registration. Speedgolf is unique because each player needs their own volunteer to follow them around and attest to their score. In golf, competitors play in a group and keep each others score, so you don't need a scorekeeper for golf tournaments.

Also unique is arranging the tee sheet. Because half of the score is the running time, we try to avoid faster players passing through slower players. The fastest players have to tee off first, regardless of where they stand on the leaderboard. In golf, the leaders go last.

Of course, keeping score is unique because you're adding together strokes + time. A Speedgolf-specific technology platform had to be developed to enable live scoring and a viewable online leaderboard. We named it SpeedScore.

Courtesy of Scott Dawley

How hard is it to convince a golf course to let you play on their course?

Not hard at all. Speedgolfers tee off first before any other players so we don't get in the way. We also have to tee off the back. We usually tee off before the first tee time. Without Speedgolf, this is new money and revenue that the course would never see. Because we play 3 to 4 times faster, we can negotiate lower rates for playing Speedgolf. Usually $20 or less.

So, Scott, I love your resilience. You have described to me how you have had to start over. How so?

I went to the University of South Carolina. it was 5 states away from my parents and any authority figure. Well, I hit rock bottom in my sophomore year. I would stay up all night partying and then stumble to early morning golf team workouts totally drunk. I even missed workouts sometimes. Finally, I got kicked off the team. (I love his honesty.) I knew if I wanted things to change, I had to tell the one person in the world I didn't want to tell: my dad. I waited until the end of the year to tell him, after failing out of school for the 2nd year in a row. He didn't judge me. He loved me and asked me to come home to surround myself with family and a support system. He encouraged me to go to AA. I went sober before my 21st birthday and haven't drank since.

You seem like you have an amazing relationship with your father.

My dad has been a constant. A real Polly Anna. Never seen him get upset, down, depressed or negative. He's been to hell and back and yet he always focuses on the positive an the opportunities in front of him. He has been my biggest fan.

How has your dad supported you through the years?

I can't count the ways. He introduced me to the game when I was around 10. He's paid for lessons with renowned instructors like Butch Harmon. He financed all my equipment, my trips. I even had a sports psychologist. He supported me when I wanted to go pro and on my mini tours. He also pushed me out of the office and a job he knew I didn't love so I could make a living on Speedgolf. He has always believed in me especially now as a Speedgolfer and entrepreneur. Today, he is my business mentor.

Author's Own

When you meet Scott, it doesn't take long to see how confident and charismatic he is. Having a conversation with him is like lighting a match to a handful of firecrackers. Don't let it fool you though. He is as humble as they come.

After I came home, my focus was to stay around the game that I loved. If I could not play professionally, for the lack of funding, I could work at a golf course, give lessons, work on my game before and after work, and meet potential sponsors.

You have had some other really cool projects as well. Talk about LinksRun.

Links Run was my evangelical tool to get people onto the golf course. If you never played golf, you could run on the course and hit some balls before and after the race.

Kinda like me with my sneaky volunteer projects. Just ways to get people to think of running in a different way.

So, what about Altered Course? Explain what it was.

On the Golf Network, was a reality show called Altered Course. Two weeks in Jamaica filming with a close knit crew of 110 people. It was a series of challenges that golfers competed for on a golf course.

Think America Ninja Warriars for golfers.

That's right. I was hired as an expert consultant, helping to design and test the challenges, and to provide expert knowledge and insight to the viewers.

And you have a podcast? What is it called?

The Pace of CHANGE…is a podcast dedicated to the sport of Speedgolf and the players and people influencing its growth. It is hosted by Ben Taylor, Troy Levier, and myself.

Where, in Houston, can I play speedgolf?

Blackhorse in Cypress. Sweetwater in Sugarland and Woodlands Country Club are coming soon.

So, what's your running time?

I ran 18 holes at the USA Championships or 5 miles in the heat index of 105 degrees in 59 minutes and 57 seconds. I shot 73 + 74 = 147.

Not too shabby. Is there anything else that you want to say?

Anyone can play and enjoy Speedgolf. It isn't a sprint, it's exercise regardless of your fitness level. There are many reasons to play. Try Speedgolf in 2020.

To learn more about Speedgolf, visit SpeedGolfUSA or listen to Scott Dawley, founder of Speedgolf USA, on his podcast Pace of Change which can be downloaded from iTunes. Contact him directly at 832.524.9994 or by emailing info@speedgolfusa.com.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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