Results from the 2011 RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships are in!
I’m pleased to say that I did well at the tournament. I didn’t bring home the trophy this year, but I made it all the way to the quarter finals (the top 8 hitters) before finally getting knocked out. I was happy with the way I hit the ball and with the way I competed – especially after coming off rotator cuff surgery last Christmas and not being able to even swing a club until July!
I made a little video of the 2011 Worlds below. Have a look. Hope it gives you a sense of being there. My recap is below the video.
In the middle of the video you’ll see Art Sellinger – major domo of long drive – assigning tee slots to the 8 of us. Can you imagine this? That group of 8 in the quarter finals represented an amazing 11 World Champion titles! Talk about tough competition!
And one more thing you’ve probably never seen before – club testing. I got invited into the back room “secret inner sanctum” where I got a chance to film an actual COR testing machine in use. It may look straightforward, but it’s an astonishingly complex process and a huge investment by Art and the LDA to ensure that the clubs we use in competition are legal and conform to USGA standards. Cool!
Here’s the link to share with friends: http://youtu.be/rD1kOFAQx9Y
Here are a few more notes on the competition, and my reflection back.
First, like everybody I was pretty nervous standing on the tee over my first shot. I had a lot of questions in my mind because recovery from my shoulder surgery limited my training and I wasn’t sure how prepared I was or how my shoulder would hold up. So I promptly started off the competition with a snap-hook into the canyon wall.
But one thing I’m proud of myself for doing is “simulated competition” practice. I was prepared to have my first ball go out, and knew exactly what I would do on the second ball – because I had practiced that scenario at home.
During the competition there is no time to try to figure out a strategy on the fly. When you create strategies on the fly you’re always left with a little question in the back of your mind about whether or not you’ve picked the right one, and you can’t perform at your best with questions in you mind.
Since we hit 6 balls from the tee and count only the best drive that stays in the grid, having one ball out is not a disaster. I stuck to my plan – the one I had already worked out in practice.
To provide a specific insight – I know when I hit a snap hook it’s because I am over-swinging. It’s no surprise that I’d be over-swinging, what with all the adrenaline and pressure of competition and the questions in my mind. What that meant was that I was trying to hit the ball too far. That’s the wrong focus.
One thing I know about my own golf swing is that I hit it the farthest when I hit the ball the most square. So I stuck to my routine, slowed my swing down a little on the second ball, and concentrated on hitting it as squarely as I could. Exactly as I done it in practice.
I ripped the next 5 in a row right up the middle, had the second-longest ball of the morning at 349 yards, and advanced easily to the next round. And I continued to hit the ball well, averaging 5 of 6 balls in the grid each set, and advanced with drives of 353 and 360 yards.
When it came time for the quarter finals a couple of guys put up big numbers early. What’s funny is that I knew THIS was the round where would have to hit my best ball. There’s always a moment in competition where it is “do or die,” and this was it. Once you get to the final four and match play, you don’t always need your best shot. But when I saw the numbers to beat in the quarters I knew I had to let it all loose. I needed a special shot. I got it on my 4th ball, but it was out of play by 3 yards. I didn’t quite catch my ball on the other drives, and that ended my competition.
That’s long drive.
Wasn’t it Woody Allen who said “80% of success is just showing up?”
Even though I didn’t win, I count this year’s competition as a major success on many fronts. A successful comeback from surgery. A success in challenging myself and putting myself out there. Certainly a success in accomplishment in advancing as far as I did against the best hitters in the world. A success in developing winning strategies and sticking to them. A success in reuniting and reconnecting with all the friends I’ve made in long drive over the years.
One more thing I’d like to share. I know many readers are familiar with my program “The 5 Keys To Distance.” As I was training up my speed for the Worlds, I used just about every single drill and technique in the program. I was coming from a long lay-off, where I couldn’t even swing a club. So I had a lot of ground to make up. But that’s another little success – where I put the swing concepts to the test when I use them on myself, and they worked.
Congratulation to Pat Dempsey, who not only captured the Super Senior title, but pulled off a double-whammy by winning the Grand Champion division the night before. Way to go Pat!
I’m taking a lot of positives away from this year’s competition. Now it’s your turn. Do you have a story where you maybe didn’t capture the trophy, but you’re still proud about your success? Share your story in the comment box below.
See you down the fairway!