Nevada Golf Re/Max World Long Drive Championship
By Joe Morris
Photo Credit: SNGA
The sport of long drive is simply hitting a golf ball as far as possible, we’ve all done it with generally hilarious
results, it’s fun. Put some savvy marketing, a set of universal rules of competition and deep-pocketed sponsors
behind it and it becomes the worldwide phenomenon that it currently is.
The annual Las Vegas gathering to crown an overall champion has just concluded its 20th year of Re/Max
support with all of the drama and disappointment you would expect. The Vegas Eight, as the finals are called,
must qualify through a series of local and regional events in order secure their spot in this live Golf Channel
showdown for a $250,000 winner’s check and the heavyweight boxing style belt trophy.
Long Drive differs from competitive golf in almost every way. One club is used, the driver, although you
will often see competitors on the practice tee hitting irons from their full set out of a bag holding a dozen or
more drivers of varying lengths, lofts and shafts. With a controlled driving range style tee-box platform and
landing grid one would think that navigating course conditions would not be a variable but that would be an
incorrect assumption. The other fallacy is that there need be no long-term consistency from the athletes, that
hitting one perfect bomb is enough to win.
While it’s true that the longest ball wins, there are head to head matches instead of accumulative distance
measured, so being able to consistently hit it long and straight over the course of an entire season is valuable.
Also, the Vegas Eight finals location has changed its venue three times in as many years, from the artificial turf
of the Mesquite Sports Complex which still holds most of the other division finals and qualifying rounds, to
the banked track of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, to the rolling grass of Paiute Golf Resort’s driving range.
Part of this is due to the explosive growth and popularity of the event. A growth that has organizers
searching for a bigger title sponsor, after twenty years of Re/Max support, rumor has it that they are out.
That’s the nature of the game as witnessed by fans over the last few years, fresh faces always have a chance
to be on top. Just as the finals left its Mesquite, Nevada venue for a Las Vegas home, it seems it has also
outgrown the value proposition of a real estate company sponsorship.
Former professional baseball player Jeff Flagg, the 2014 Champion, has only been competing for two years
and was able to take home the belt in his first appearance in the finals. This year’s finals saw three former
pro baseball players, a former hockey player, two golf instructors and a couple of blue-collar guys. Golf has
always been the most democratic sport. All have ‘former’ endeavors because now they are Professsional
Long Drive competitors. Sponsorships from big-boy companies such as Callaway recently started rolling in to
insure competitors can continue pursuing the sport. We’ll have to wait to see if any of the big golf companies
want to finally legitimize the sport’s popularity amongst everyday golfers with a title sponsorship.
Re/Max World Long Drive
Championship Marks 20 Years