I’ve always considered myself a powerful driver of the ball when it comes to golf and I am usually the longest hitter in a fourball. The only problem is that I’m not terribly consistent and I tend to just hit the ball farther into the rough.
So, when I heard there was to be a REMAX World Long Drive Championship in Europe this year – held in Spain for the first time at PGA Catalunya Resort near Barcelona – I was eager to see how the competitors fared at going long and straight.
I made sure I arrived at the venue in plenty of time, before the crowds gathered, so I could watch the competitors warm up for what was set to be a spectacular golf power show.
I watched in awe as the likes of Joe Miller, 2010 Long Drive World Champion, and Dan ‘The Ukrainian’ Konyk from the UK, as well as Swedish sensation Jorgen Trank and Spaniard Gerard Pera, 2011 European Rookie of the Year, thrashed balls way into the distance.
As the long hitters warmed up and shared jokes together, it was fantastic too see the strong sense of camaraderie among the professional and amateur contenders.
However, the light-hearted jocularity soon dissipated as each player stepped up to the competition tee, arriving like a prize-fighter ready to thump their golf ball as hard as they could down a 400-yard plus stretch of the range.
While a DJ kept the crowds entertained between rounds, it was unusual to have the music turned up even louder when players teed up. As each ball was struck an array of sound effects, including gunfire, broken glass and car alarms, were sounded to the whooping and hollering delight of the spectators.
Used to the revered silences of spectators at European Tour events and the almost tangible tension of tour professionals, it was a welcome change to experience golf in a far more upbeat and engaging atmosphere.
As the day reached its conclusion with the final set up between the ‘Ukrainian’ and Krank, the atmosphere generated by the crowd was electric. Each shot fired from the tee by the two long drive heavyweights was met by deafening roars from the crowd, willing the contestants on.
After twelve mighty blows, it was unclear from the naked eye which of the finalists had hit the furthest. This didn’t seem to bother the two who linked arms while they waited for the drive distances to be announced – a true sign of great sportsmanship.
As the winner was announced, Krank lifted Konyk’s arm confirming the Brit as the first Long Drive Champion at PGA Catalunya Resort.