Long drive competitions have been around for decades, and for the majority of that time these events were considered freak shows by golf traditionalists.
Those days are history, thanks in large part to the persistence and hard work of former world champion Art Sellinger and his partnership with Re/Max.
If you doubt that, you should have been in attendance at the Re/Max World Long Drive Championships in Mesquite, NV, last week.
NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry was among six world champions crowned in various age and gender divisions. And in the Open Division, eight qualifiers earned spots in the finals, set for Las Vegas Oct. 30. The winner of that competition will take home $250,000 and the honor of being the world’s longest driver.
The Golf Channel will air that winner–take-all competition as the finale of a four-part series. Other shows covering the events at Mesquite last week will air on Oct. 9, 16 and 23.
“These eight players put on a show all week in Mesquite, Nevada, and the fun is just getting started now that our focus shifts to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October,” said Sellinger, Long Drivers of America owner. “A special thanks to Mesquite, our volunteers, RE/MAX and all of our sponsors. The October8 is very deserving of a shot at the winner-take-all first-prize of $250,000 plus the championship belt and ring. Now it’s time for speed to meet speed in Las Vegas under the lights and live on Golf Channel.”
Tim Burke of Orlando is among the October8. Jamie Sadlowski, 2008 and 2009 world champion, qualified with a 400-yard drive, as did Joe Miller, 2010 world champion. The other five qualifiers are Matt Hanger, Will Hogue, Patrick Hopper, Tyler Kellett, and Aaron Mansfield.
Those eight players made their way through a field of 92 in the Open Division on the long drive grid in the Mesquite stadium. Once the field was narrowed to 16, they squared off in a series of head-to-head matches on Friday in front of a packed grandstand. Each player hit six balls, with the longest drive advancing. Eventually the October8 were left standing.
You can watch an edited version of all the action from Mesquite on The Golf Channel, starting Oct. 9. The finals from Las Vegas will be carried live Oct. 30.