I’ve never really posted anything personal about the behind-the-scenes reasons for creating Amateur Long Drive™ and our developing plans for the future. So, I thought a little background might be in order. Firstly, my day job includes running a couple of broadcast media, and digital marketing companies. We’re focused on helping our clients leverage the internet to grow their businesses through web development, video marketing , social media, and search marketing strategies.
My First Long Drive
Although I’ve never competed in a long drive competition, I can connect my love for lit back to the first time (many years ago) I (unexpectedly) hit a 305 yard (it was actually 302…I rounded up) three wood at Graysburg Hills Golf Course in East Tennessee. It was down hill, down wind, and I guess that was the first time I actually hit a ball with the center of the club face. I was a self-taught weekend hacker who rarely shot below 100. Some might say that day ruined any future my game may have had. My next milestone was a 345 yard drive at the same course. Anyone who has ever played Graysburg knows those fairways are (or used to be) very hard, and bounce and roll could easily add 50 or more yards. My son started beating me at golf by the time he was 16. He told me once that I could probably improve my score if I took fewer risky shots, didn’t swing so hard, and concentrated on course management. To which I replied, “I don’t care about my score, I just want to see how far I can hit it!”.
Fast forward 25 years: I was at an International Network of Golf conference in Atlantic City, NJ when I met Dean Jarvis who was putting on a ParaLong Drive exhibition with some of his hitters at the Atlantic City Country Club. I was impressed and touched at the same time with his goal to get ParaLong Drive into the Para Olympics. I wanted to help, and offered my services to get the effort more exposure. I followed ParaLong Drive and did video interviews of the competitors and covered the competition for three years when I told Dean I could put more resources behind the coverage if he would bring his ParaLong Drive Cup to Myrtle Beach, SC…my home town. In effort to get some local support, I needed to enlarge the scope of the event…so I created Amateur Long Drive™ in hopes of drawing more competitors. We scheduled the first “Amateur Long Drive™ (ALD) World Championship” featuring the ParaLong Drive Cup for August 2017 at Legends Resort in Myrtle Beach.
Leading up to the decision to create ALD, I asked several friends and business associates in the golf industry what they thought of the idea. Absolutely no one said they thought it was a good idea. In fact, most said it was a bad idea. Something told me they were wrong. Perhaps I had just asked the wrong people. As it turns out…some of the purist in golf think long drive is “bad” for the game. Maybe my personal example is a good representation of why they think so. But, I disagree completely. I think anything that can get someone to pick up a golf club and compete is good for the game. I suppose we’ll just have to disagree on that. The excitement that long drive generates around the game of golf is unmatched. I absolutely love it!
Inaugural ALD World Championship
We expected to have 30 to 50 hitters show up for the for first ALD World Championship and ParaLong Drive Cup. We had 100! We created a format that crowned champions in various age and ability divisions and added an Open Championship that had the top ParaLong Drive hitters going up against the top able-bodied hitters. We live streamed most of the event and bought some local television time….and put on a hellava show! The Open Championship winner, Mark Lawrence from Salt Lake City, Utah, came out of the Senior division to edge out ParaLong Drive hitter Jonathan Shaw. Jonathan was, by far, the most consistent hitter of the entire championship. He rarely missed the grid….and was incredibly long.
2018 ALD World Championship
Plans for the 2018 season included adding regional qualifiers and moving the World Championship to Barefoot Resort & Golf Club (August 16-18) to allow us to hold the finals under the lights. We aligned our schedule to coincide with the Veteran Golfers Association (VGA) Super Regional tournament and added a Veterans Division for the World Championship. We have decided that Adaptive Long Drive will also become a permanent part of our ALD World Championship allowing a variety of ability divisions.
ALD World Championship Series
After seeing the interest in long drive for amateurs and various abilities, it became clear the sport could benefit from a developmental or feeder series, both from the perspective of developing players as well as fans. Beginning September 1, 2018, we will roll out the ALD Championship Series. We will (initially) offer up to 5 regional sanction agreements to hold multiple ALD events. annually. There will be Amateur Long Drive™ World Ranking points accumulated regionally, nationally, and globally. We will announce the first international sanction of ALD in the coming weeks. As the system grows we will roll out additional sanctioning opportunities both in the United States and other countries. The details of the series will be announced at the World Championship. We’ll be running a mock series here in Myrtle Beach to work through the process prior to launch. Anyone interested in applying for an ALD Region may contact us HERE.
Salt Air® Foundation
We’ve chosen Salt Air® Foundation as our “official” charity. Salt Air® Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit that raises funds and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis (CF). CF is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick, sticky buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage, and eventually, respiratory failure. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients. We will donate a portion of all ALD proceeds to this charity going forward. CF has touched us personally and introduced the financial challenges faced by those suffering from the disease and those providing care.