Berkshire narrowly defeats James to win second Pro Long Drive championship
October 4, 2021
As competitors, like 2019 Pro Long Drive Champion Kyle Berkshire (pictured), organizers, sponsors, fans, and the Golf Channel were preparing for the 2020 World Long Drive Championship, only vague mentions a novel virus infecting people in Wuhan, China had appeared in the media. Unfortunately, the new coronavirus would spread quickly, have a major impact on 7.5 billion people globally, and would turn the page on the next chapter in the history of world long drive.
Initially, qualifying events were postponed with intentions of rescheduling them in late spring or early summer. Nonetheless, dwindling sponsorship, travel restrictions, and overall safety concerns had already put five of the six scheduled qualifiers on hold leaving only the World Long Drive Championship. Later that month, the World Long Drive Association sent a letter to competitors that the season finale had been suspended.
PLDA attracts 139 hitters for 2021 world championship
139 hitters from 10 countries came together at the Mesquite Sports and Events Complex in Mesquite, NV. The 2021 Championship featured a total prize purse of $125,000 for the Open Division and Kyle Berkshire walked away with $50,000 in his second PLDA victory in a row. Berkshire claimed the consecutive Pro Long Drive Association Championship title by narrowly defeating Justin James with a winning drive of 422 yards.
Berkshire went head-to-head with Justin James in the Final 2. James won the 2017 Championship but was unable to reclaim his title. Berkshire was a popular favorite to take home first place after his victory at the 2020 PLDA World Championship and remains the reigning champion. After his win, Berkshire thanked his sponsor Cobra Golf, his family, his coach Bobby Peterson, and the fans who supported him.
“Lastly, I hope everybody has seen how awesome these athletes are and how great this sport is,” said Berkshire on Instagram. “Can’t wait to see the big things in store for this sport and it’s hitters!”
Kanani Lodge claims both pro long drive world titles
Kanani Lodge won the Women’s Division with 332-yard drive. She also won last month’s Xtreme Long Drive World Championship, giving her two back-to-back champion titles in as many months. Jeff Gavin took home the Senior Division title with a winning drive of 361 yards. Kyle Gabbard won the Amateur Division with a 343 yard drive on his sixth and last ball.
Byrson DeChambeau competitive at pro long drive finals
PGA Tour star Bryson DeChambeau was the obvious standout in the Open Division, coming straight from his Ryder Cup victory lap, where he nailed a 417-yard mega-drive on a par-five. He finished at number 7 in the Open Division, marking a successful entry into the world of Pro Long Drive and showing everyone that PGA players who hit longer drives have a future in PLD.
“Players are bigger, stronger, and faster now than back when I played,” said Gerry James, two-time PLDA Senior Champion and father of Justin James. “Launch monitors took away the mystery of how we were hitting that far.”
“Launch monitors [which detect ball speed, launch angle, smash factor, and more] changed the game over the last fifteen years,” according to Gerry James. “Fifteen years ago, there were only a handful of players who could slam over 215 miles per hour. Now that number is in the fifties thanks to advances in technology that make the secrets of the sport more accessible.”
With the community growing and athletes like DeChambeau joining the sport, it’s safe to say that Berkshire is right about big things being in store for Pro Long Drive.