BANDON — Tim Scott, Chris Smith and Jim Kosciolek were high school buddies in Eugene.
They kept their friendship years after graduating in 1981 — Scott and Kosciolek from Sheldon and Smith from South Eugene — even as Scott played on mini tours, Smith became a teaching pro and Kosciolek moved halfway across the country.
They got hooked on speedgolf in the late 1990s, when Scott and Smith played a few tournaments in the International Speedgolf Association.
“It was kind of big then,” Scott recalled.
But by 2001, the organization had folded. They wanted to keep the sport going.
Scott and Kosciolek started Speedgolf International, holding the first Bandon Dunes Speedgolf Classic in 2002 and an annual tournament in Chicago as well.
“We did it because it was fun,” Scott said.
The Chicago tournament lasted several years. They considered stopping the Bandon tournament a few times when the number of participants dwindled, but they persevered. John Hamilton, the golf coach at Catlin Gabel High School and regular participant in the Bandon Dunes Speedgolf Classic, started a tournament a few years back at Quail Valley near Portland.
Now the Bandon event has evolved into the World Speedgolf Championships, held for the first time this coming weekend.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Scott. “Mike Keiser is really who turned it into what it is, but if we hadn’t kept doing it, this would have never happened.”
A few members of the resort’s staff approached Scott about the possibility of a world championship event a year ago and Keiser, the owner of Bandon Dunes and an avid runner, supported it, helping it become a reality.
“Bandon has just been great for us, to give us that course for 10 years,” Scott said. “And then to have Mike kind of underwrite this whole thing and get it going. The response we have had is awesome.”
The tournament this weekend is full, with 16 pros and 45 amateurs. More than half of the amateurs are first-time participants, with 20 coming from other states across the country, Scott said.