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Winstar Blog

The World Long Drive Championship Returns to WinStar Golf Club

The world’s longest golf drivers are back in action at the world’s largest casino! The World Long Drive Championship will be back at WinStar World Casino and Resort Oct. 6 through 12 for the 2016 championship. Golfers from around the world will play for the $260,000 purse and the sought-after World Long Drive Championship belt.

Golfers around the globe compete to play in the World Long Drive Championship (WLDC), a competition organized by the Golf Channel. Qualifying tournaments are held everywhere from Tennessee to the United Kingdom and New Hampshire to New Delhi. The competition is tough and only the very best make it to the finals. It is captivating to watch these premier long drivers on the green!

Jon Stephenson is a golf instructor and Director of Fitting at the WinStar Golf Academy. You may remember our blog about him from earlier this year! Stephenson is not only an expert at swing analysis, but he is also a Long Drive Championship hopeful. He competed in a local qualifying event and made it through to a regional tournament. He wasn’t successful in grabbing one of the three qualifying spots for finals at that tournament, but he plans to compete for a last chance spot the week of the championship.

Despite the tough competition, Jon still has high hopes about the WLDC this year. We’re all rooting for you, Jon!

“I would love to be crowned the winner,” Stephenson said. “But my goal has always been to make it the World Championships. I have come close but never gotten in, so I hope this is the year!”

So what makes the World Long Drive Championship different from a normal golf tournament? Stephenson said there are a few major differences between what you see on the PGA and what you’ll see at the WLDC.

“The swing and ball speeds are very different,” Stephenson said. “PGA players are swinging about 115 miles per hour with ball speeds up to 180 miles per hour, where in long drive you will see swing speeds of 135 to 150 and ball speeds upwards of 220 miles per hour!”

Additionally, Jon explained the differences in the clubs used, “A long drive club is about four to five inches longer than your standard driver and has three to five less degrees of loft. The shafts are also significantly stiffer than your average driver.”

Don’t let the technical jargon scare you away, the World Long Drive Championship is not just for expert golfers. Stephenson said he has seen a migration of athletes from other sports like baseball into the long drive. Stephenson’s training for the tournament includes hitting a lot of long drives and hitting the gym. Maybe we’ll see you out on the greens practicing before the World Long Drive Championship!

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