Time for the big hitters

Once again, South African golfing enthusiasts and big hitters will get the chance to tee up against each other at the national qualifying events for this year’s RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship.

These qualifying events will take place during the months of August and September and are bound to draw some of the country’s longest drivers to see who will be crowned the 2012 champion. This year’s competition marks the 15th Anniversary of the event here in South Africa.

Originally an initiative that started in the US in 1995, the competition was brought to South Africa in 1998 by RE/MAX of Southern Africa. Peter Gilmour, Chairman of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says: “The competition was a huge success in the US and it made sense to bring it to this country given the vast amount of avid golf enthusiasts we have here. As each year passes we have seen the competition grow massively in popularity here in South Africa and every year it gets that much tougher.” He adds: “Globally the RE/MAX World Long Drive has cemented its place as one of the annual highlights on the sporting calendar for golfing fans and players alike.”

Part of the allure of the sport is that the rules of the competition are simple - the golfer that hits the ball the farthest wins. Each golfer is given six balls to drive, with only the longest drive counting. Balls that are hit off the grid are not measured.  It’s a game where timing, precision and power come together simultaneously and distance reigns supreme.

As distances have progressively gotten further, today’s top hitters post drives between the 360 and the 420 meter mark. The best shot hit during the 2011 South African competition was posted by the 2010 and 2011 reigning South African champion, Erik van der Walt. His shot was hit in the semi-finals and was measured at 377m, which was 4m ahead of Ryan Louw with a shot of 373m. In the final round Van der Walt hit another beautiful shot, which travelled a distance of 374m (409.11 yards) to take the title. The 2011 World Long Drive Champion, won the event in the USA with a drive of 420 meters.

The top four competitors from each of this year’s qualifying events will take part in the final which will be held on 8 September 2012. This year’s qualifying events will take place on the following dates, at the following venues:

Friday, 31st August 2012 – Qualifying event – 09h30 to 17h00 at the Copper Leaf Golf and Country Estate.

Monday, 3rd September 2012 – Qualifying event - 09h30 to 17h00 at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club EAST Course where a temporary tee will be cut next to the 10th hole.

Friday, 7th September 2012 – Qualifying event – 09h30 to 17h00 at the Copper Leaf Golf and Country Estate.

Last minute qualifying event - Saturday, 8th September 2012 – 09h30 to 12h00 at the Copper Leaf Golf and Country Estate. The top four competitors will go through to the final rounds, starting at 13h00.

National Final – 13h30 to 16h30 at the Copper Leaf Golf and Country Estate - The 16 finalists will draw for their groups which will take place on the tee between 12h30 and 13h00, allowing the first group competitors to warm up prior to start at 13h30.

“The top long drivers from the national competition will join long drivers from 30 other countries to represent South Africa at the 2012 international RE/MAX World Long Drive event held in the US later this year.  Given the standard of competition in our country, we are sure that the South African contingent will give the other countries a run for their money,” Gilmour concludes.

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