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Thrash Talk: Going the Distance with Some Heavy Hitters


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By Matt Karlack via TheSandTrap.com
The game of golf has a red-headed step child. Attitudinally wrought with aggression, it is a super-charged, twisted, in-your-face interpretation of what Old Tom envisioned so many years ago.

tt_title.gifAfter a self-imposed exile and intoxicating purge from the golf blogging universe, I came upon a couple of observations which I previously paid no heed.



The way I see it, golf is a game that can be and has been broken down in a countless number of ways. From the fundamentals of a perfect swing to the equipment used to make that swing possible. Everything is scrutinized and and put under a microscope. I cannot think of one facet of the game that has not been broken down to its lowest common denominator.

Perhaps the biggest subcategory of the game, the one characteristic of golf that everyone loves to watch, is the drive. A flawless, smooth swing which creates the perfect flight trajectory is a thing of beauty. Be it a fade, draw, or a rip straight down the middle, a top-notch drive is the one shot golfers strive for every time they step onto the tee box.



A niche has been carved out by many of the proponents who concentrate on this facet of the game. Day in and day out, these heavy hitters perfect their craft. Still, I believe that these athletes and their long drive competitions are lacking the air time and exposure needed to move the sport of Power Golf from plebeian novelty to culture-wide acknowledgement.



The Long Drivers of America, the institution that presently resides over long drive competitions, has been conscientiously pulling in sponsors, creating and maintaining rules and regulations, and painstakingly getting the word out to the masses.



The game of golf has a red-headed step child. Attitudinally wrought with aggression, it is a super-charged, twisted, in-your-face interpretation of what Old Tom envisioned so many years ago.



Power golf is a world dominated by men dubbed Golfzilla, the Croatian Crusher, Big Cat, Mr. Consistency, and The Beast.



The Present
Currently, the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship is the pre-eminent event of the year, taking place on March 3rd and 4th. It is where all those who have proven themselves throughout open qualifiers around the country congregate to see whose got the longest ball. Mesquite, NV becomes the Mecca of all things long distance as it relates to golf. Partitioned into four separate classes - the open division, senior division, super senior division, and ladies division - the championship caters to mostly all who are willing and able.



I am not going to delve into the various rules and regulations of these events. However, I will note that Power Golf has evolved into something of a true sport in regards to professional versus amateur status. The RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship is open to anyone, professional or amateur. However, the Pinnacle Exceptional Driver Championship is open to only those of amateur status. This event has a different scoring system. But there is a catch-22 here. The winner of this event can receive $50,000 and a new Honda S2000 convertible. But if the winner accepts, so long to amateur status.



It is quite amazing how such a small niche, a proclaimed grass-roots organization has evolved in just the past eleven years. If you have a chance to catch an event in person or on television, I highly suggest it.



This brings me to my quandary. Why are these events rarely mentioned in the golfing mainstream? Back in the October 2005 edition of GOLF Magazine, Josh Sens wrote a great article expounding on this sport and its athletes. In the March edition of Golf Digest, Guy Yocom conducted an interview with Sean Fister, three-time World Long Drive champion. But what about the air time? What about more events?



The Future
The Golf Channel, in all of its golf broadcasting glory, needs to address this opportunity. They have a great new contract with the PGA Tour, so why not add a little spicy flavor to the mix?



I see long-distance tournaments as a precursor to opening rounds at various PGA Tour events throughout the season. These exhibitions of brutal power and force manage to get spectators wired and boisterous while the competitors themselves rant, rave, hoot, and holler their drives all the way down the marked grid. It's a magnificent sight to behold.



It will be these events and the fans themselves who will create the buzz. Only then will mainstream media really push Power Golf into the next realm of competition. I am grateful for the coverage I do get to see on ESPN, but there are so many more possibilities for this burgeoning sport.



The Far-Off Future
Thanks to the word of mouth and the terrific fan base of Power Golf, another facet of golf competition will emerge and take the main stage in broadcast sport: short game competitions.



Yes indeed, competitors will work their way around a nine hole short course or a "pitch and putt." In a designated area, anywhere from 100 yards and in, competitors will be armed with a minimal number of clubs of their choosing. It's like the Par 3 Tournament at the Masters, but with a little more exposure. The aim is the same as regular golf: get the ball in the hole with the fewest strokes possible.



Of course, these premonitions came to me while lost in a purple haze. I'm quite unaware of what could be the fallout. All I know is, the game of golf is branching out and beginning to make some noise, real actual noise, and that is just fine with me.

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