Long distance running and playing a decent round of golf are challenging activities in their own right.

Rotorua's Steve Holloway has become an expert in speedgolf, a sport which combines both.

Next week Holloway, the New Zealand speedgolf champion and record holder, is competing in the United States Speedgolf Championships.

In speedgolf the player's time is combined with their score, so limiting how many shots they take is as important as getting around the course quickly.

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"Since they weren't doing the world champs, which is a bit unfortunate, I decided I would do either the British or the US champs.

"The US gave me a bit more time to save up and try to get sponsors on board to get there. I've hit my target now, I'm quite overwhelmed by all the sponsors who have supported me."

Holloway recently completed the Podium Rotorua Half Marathon, the training for which helped get his fitness to a level he was happy with for speedgolf.

"My training has been going quite well, there are times where it's hard because I'm all alone, out in the forest for up to two hours, four times a week. The half marathon timed well with this, it gives me a week's rest before I fly out.

"I've been playing a lot of normal golf as well, but it is quite different. In speedgolf you don't have time to think about your shots, it's just 'yep, that's where I need to go, this is the club, bang'. I find it's actually better for me, I actually play better speedgolf than normal golf at times," he said.

Steve Holloway broke the course record at the New Zealand Speedgolf Open in Rotorua on his way to winning the title earlier this year. Photo / File
Steve Holloway broke the course record at the New Zealand Speedgolf Open in Rotorua on his way to winning the title earlier this year. Photo / File

The US champs, being played on Tuesday and Wednesday New Zealand time, comprise two rounds of 18 holes at the Golf Club of Houston and Holloway was hopeful a good performance would see him climb the world rankings.

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"I'm sitting ninth in the world at the moment and my main goal is to get on the podium, whether it's first, second or third, but if I'm leading after the first round I'll definitely be eyeing up that No 1.

"There are six of the top 10 players in the world playing at this one, so it's a really good opportunity to move up the rankings if I finish ahead of them.

"I've looked at all the averages. I have a 118 scoring average and everyone else is around 120-122, so I have the best average at the moment, I just haven't played enough tournaments to secure the No 1 ranking.

"Mostly I just need to focus on keeping a cool, calm head. I've got my fitness, so I just need to work on my breathing and keeping a nice rhythm - taking a bit of time on my putting. It's crucial to take your time with the putting because you could end up with a few extra shots you don't need or want."

He said it was important to play at a consistent pace.

"If you have a nice, even running game and shoot well it's going to benefit you the most. You don't want to go and run your heart out but blow out with six goals to go, you end up running very slow and you can't focus."

Holloway's introduction to the sport was the result of an intense rivalry with good friend Landyn Edwards.

"We are always really competitive, it doesn't matter if it's indoor netball or tenpin bowling, we get competitive.

"He used to brag because he had the New Zealand speedgolf title and trophy at his house and he used to tell me I'd never get it. So I gave it a go last year and he beat me by two. He kept rubbing it in my face and I said, 'You're on next year.'

"This year he had a broken rib and couldn't play, I took the title and the course record and now I'm rubbing it in his face."