The following article is from Obie Anderson, a competitor in the Senior LongDrive Competition. Obie and I have been exchanging email for the past few years as he has worked very hard to win the championship. I think you'll enjoy his account of the championship. He's a super nice guy and I hope you join me in rooting for him to win the longdrive championship...he deserves it! --john, clubmaker online
1999 ReMax LongDrive Championship
I got back yesterday from the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship. It was
a tremendous event.
The competition was even more fierce than ever if that is possible.
wind was just dead calm the entire time. The grid is flat. The finals were
at night with cool temperatures.
There were 8 finalists in the Open Division. Seven of them
yards in these benign conditions. That was just amazing. Brian Pavlet put
up a monster shot of 367 yards.
Then Jason Zuback took the tee. He was fighting off an injury
vertebrae that had deprived him of a significant amount of arm strength
prior to the Championship. He had been working very hard to rehabilitate
himself and everyone wondered how he would do.
Jason answered with a majestic blast of 376 yards! This was
chapter in his unreal saga which now spans four consecutive Championships.
It was hard to conceive that anyone could hit a golf ball that far under
those conditions. This was a drive that with hot weather and a tail wind
would have probably gone over 425 yards.
The competition among the Seniors was also stepped up dramatically
1987 Champion Mike Gorton turned 45 this year and was in the
course, three time champ Mike Hooper was looking for his fourth title to
keep pace with Jason Zuback.
Last year Hooper easily took the Senior title with a shot of
354 yards, but
second place was 319 and third was 311. Things would not be so easy this
Fred Hooter of Idaho led off the Seniors and pounded a shot
down the grid
that reached 353 yards. Kent Couchee from Los Gatos followed with a shot of
346 yards. Mike Hooper then tried to defend and ripped it deep, but it
stopped just short of Fred at 351 yards. Mike Gorton then had a crack at
winning his first Senior title to go with the Open Championship he won in
1987. This would make him the first ever to win both events.
MIke's best drive was a soaring blast that stayed in the lights
seemed like forever. This appeared to be far enough to get the job done.
Amazingly, Mike ended up four and one half inches short of Fred.
I was fortunate enough to make the finals for the first time
this year. My
turn was right after Mike Gorton and believe me, when you have thousands of
people behind you cheering, ESPN cameras and lights in your face, giant
light towers bordering the competition grid down each side, and the
atmosphere that was virtually palpable in the air itself, it is an
I could barely tee the ball up due to my hand shaking. My
first shot was
wide right. The second was well hit, but also wide right. My third shot
was not solid, but at least it was in the grid, stopping at 326 yards.
Then on my fourth shot I was thrilled to actually catch the
ball rock solid
with my Zeider Absolute Driver, powered by a Penley Tour Light long drive
shaft. The ball had great trajectory and was in the right center of the
grid. I actually felt there was a chance it would go the
distance........but it landed just a little soft and stopped at 344 yards!
Wow, that is as hard as I could hit it.
Nontheless, there were two more balls to hit. I hit the 5th
ball almost as
well as the fourth and it started down the left center of the grid. The
ground sloped away toward the sideline over there, so I was worried it would
roll out of bounds. It rolled and rolled and rolled, getting ever closer to
the chalk line, and finally stoped less than a foot from going out of
bounds, at 347 yards!
Surely that meant that the 6th ball would be truly special.
We had added
yards to each successive shot since getting the third ball in. Maybe there
was a chance for something to happen here that I would never forget.....I
hit the 6th ball as hard as I could possibly swing, aiming right of the grid
and playing for a big "sling" hook, hoping for maximum carry and roll as
well. I caught the ball as solid as I can hit it, but was a hair late and
the ball flew straight, wide right!
Therefore, I finished fourth, but despite that it was the greatest
experience one can imagine. This is a truly incredible show that anyone
would enjoy, complete with fireworks, the National Anthem, military color
guard, and astonishing hitting.
One item of interest in the Open Division was qualifier Randy
Kansas. Randy hits a 65" (yes sixty-five") driver powered by a Penley
shaft. This drew a crowd of on lookers every time he got on the practice
tee or the competition tee. Randy is not a giant guy either, weighing
probably 175 pounds or so.
He took one shot deep in the competition on Friday night late
everything had cooled down that went 367 yards. That was a phenomenal shot.
I believe Randy will be back next year.
1998 Long Drive Championship
I just drove in from mesquite and am ready to take a nap after an 11 hour drive and a fabulous tournament week.
Personally, I did not achieve my expectations with a 15th place finish. Mike Hooper won his 3-peat with a monster shot in the finals of 354 yards to dominate the senior field.
Jason Zuback stared defeat in the eye in the open semifinals as he hit his first 5 balls wide and would be eliminated if his 6th went out. He did not back off one bit and went nuclear with the longest shot of the entire tournament, 367 yards to advance into the finals.
The conditions were calm with a grid that did not give up a lot of roll. Distances were dramatically down from last year.
Jason came to the tee in the finals needing to beat 352 yards
to have a chance at a 3-peat of his own. He put on a truly awesome
display with a monster shot of 353 yards, and two at 361 yards!
This nailed down the title in impressive
Jason was hitting the Harrison 2.5 XTRA shaft and the Titleist 975D head.
On the road to Mesquite
Amazing that it feels like yesterday that I was driving home
from Mesquite, Nevada after missing the final hit-off in the RE/MAX
North American Long Drive Championship by 4 yards. The excitement
of being able to attend this
incredible event was mixed with the disappointment of coming up short by such a small margin.
I got home at 4 am after the 11 hour drive, but was at the driving range by noon hitting balls hoping to make it back this year. Here we are a year later, and getting the opportunity to return still seems unbelievable.
This year the event was expanded to the entire world. Also, each year there are some new 45 year old competitors moving into the senior division (the age for long drive seniors is 45) which poses a real challenge for the older hitters.
I believe that the person to watch in the senior division this year aside from perennial champion Michael Hooper is Steve Lotz. He took third two years ago in the open division and 11th last year, again in the open division. This year he is in the seniors and should be an awesome competitor.
I will be hitting the Zeider Absolute head powered by the new Penley Tour Light shaft. For the past 350 days, I've been to the driving range over 450 times (two, three, or even four times on weekend days), hitting between 70 and 200 full driver shots on most occasions. Penley shafts and Zeider heads are absolutely the best available in my opinion.
My plan is to head to Mesquite on October 20, and should be getting home on October 25. Good or bad, I will e-mail the results at that time.
The RE/MAX World Championships will be held in Mesquite from October 21-24.
The first three days involve various preliminary events. The finals will be on Saturday, October 24 at the Palms Golf Course, beginning at 7:30 am and ending sometime that evening.
There will be a total of 64 hitters from all over the world in the Open Division and 24 in the Senior (this year they have expanded it beyond North America to Europe and beyond, hence the name change from North American Long Drive Championship to World Long Drive Championship). Jason Zuback and Michael Hooper will both be back trying to Three-peat in the Open and Senior Divisions respectively.
I was fortunate enough to easily qualify yesterday in the District 3 event just outside of Portland. The Senior field was not very strong, as I won with 313 yards. The Open qualifiers (two) won with 332 and 325 yards.
San Jose-June 6th contest.
The Senior competitions are beginning to heat up a little bit, as John Abendroth of the local golf television show, "Hooked on Golf" recently turned 45 years of age and came to compete in the Senior Division. He is a pretty good hitter, having been a PGA touring pro a few years earlier.
Anyway, PGA touring pros aren't the same as Long Drive Specialists. He hit 315, and the next Senior qualifier was at 289. I used my 4 degree Zeider Absolute with the Penley Bushido shaft reaching a finished club length of 51 1/2" and bombed it 345. End of discussion.
I'm going to LaMesa, Texas to hit in a contest there on June 28. I'll give you a report when I get back.
Hope things are going well, we finally got past the rain. Hooray!
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