It’s all go for January after the R&A and USGA published their finalised Rules of Golf. So what’s coming in? Steve Carroll outlines the changes.
American Golf crowns 2016 Long Drive Champion
Friday night saw an incredible display of power hitting as Lucas Dornan became the American Golf Long Drive Champion, winning a hamper of products from Garmin and a place in the World Long Drive Championship.
Using a 3 degree Callaway XR 16 with Fujikura XXX shaft Lucas overcame stiff competition, beating Dave Evans from Bedford with his last and only legal drive of the final.
The final was a tense encounter with neither Lucas or Dave reaching the distances they’d achieved throughout the competition. They had both hit in excess of 380 yards in previous rounds but the pressure of the final told when with 5 drives from 6 completed Lucas didn’t have a legal ball in play. Dave had previously recorded 364 yards with his second ball from his first set of 3 but Lucas managed to send a 368 yard monster with his final drive of the competition. With 3 balls left to win, Dave struggled for control and having consistently hit over 370 all competition, failed to record a legal drive in his final set.
"I'm delighted to have won the American Golf Long Drive Championship in my first ever Long Drive event,” commented the trader from Billericay. “I knew from looking around the swing speeds of the other competitors that if I hit it well I'd be among the leaders. I‘d clocked 152mph during the day so I knew I was swinging it fast but was just missing the middle of the club, so it was a relief when I managed to get a legal drive on my last hit in both Semi Final and Final. From qualifying in store through regionals and to the final, I've had a fantastic experience and can't thank American Golf and Garmin enough for giving me the chance to go on and compete with the best in the world."
Daniel Gathercole, Director of Marketing and Communications at American Golf was impressed with the standard at this year’s event, “The Championship took a big step up this year. 9 of our U45 finalists recorded drives in excess of 350 yards and our reigning Champion Dan Konyk went out in the quarter final with 372. Lucas and Dave were so long all day. This was the first Long Drive competition either had entered and they showed tremendous nerve under pressure. Rebecca and Anton upped the stakes again in the other two categories and I can’t wait for everyone to see the competition we’ve just witnessed when it airs on Sky.”
Rebecca McGinley defended her title in the Ladies category with a winning drive of 299 yards in the final against Olivia Raybould. The pair’s best drives of the day were 318 and 285 yards respectively, signalling a real challenge to Rebecca’s dominance of this event. Anton Reader (343) took the Over 45’s title from David Willmore with an incredibly consistent display of power hitting. Lucas, Rebecca and Anton now go forward to the World Long Drive Championships in Oklahoma in October where they will represent American Golf and Garmin on the biggest stage. The Long Drive Championship is a vital part of American Golf’s drive to get more people out playing golf more often. 2017 will see a series of free events added to the current event schedule when the Scratch and Individual Championships, Family Cup, Pitch & Putt Championship and Adventure Golf Championship will be added to the Junior Championship, Long Drive, 9 Hole, Seniors and Ladies.