Pro Long Drivers Launch 2021 PLDA Season in the Desert
March 8, 2021
After surviving a disrupted 2020 season, the warm Nevada weather welcomed long ball hitters back for the Professional Long Drivers Association’s Desert Launch on March 5-7 at Mesquite Sports Complex in Mesquite, Nevada. On Friday, amateur long driver, Kennedy Zienin, got the weekend started with a winning blast of 371 yards. Jim Heflin beat out runner-up Kevin “Iceman” Blenkhorn by only a few yards to win the Senior Division. Canadian long driver Daniel Fournier was on form and claimed top honors in the Master Division at Mesquite Sports Complex. Hot off his rookie season, Oklahoma-native Brandon Flynn took top honors in Men’s Open Division with a winning drive of 377 yards. In the pro Ladies Division, Kanani Lodge celebrated her birthday weekend with a long drive of 345 yards before claiming victory with a 323-yard bomb.
Dedicated to restoring and growing the sport of long drive, the PLDA is hosting a series of events for professional and amateur golfers to advance to the 2021 World Long Drive Championship final round. Long ball hitters can qualify in amateur, seniors, ladies, masters and open pro long drive divisions through local, regional and championship qualifiers. This allows aspiring athletes to have multiple opportunities to advance up the ladder and compete for honors at the season-ending world championship event. In addition, contestants who are already elite athletes in other sports have the opportunity to compete against top PLDA competitors for cash, prizes, and the coveted title of World Long Drive Champion.
PLDA World Championship Qualifying Format
If you are new to the sport of long drive, competing in a PLDA qualifying event establishes your qualifying drive distance, which allows you to advance to the next phase of competition. In the Open, Ladies, Senior, Master, or Junior divisions, there are three (3) qualifying stages including:
- Local Qualifiers - The distance for each drive landing within the boundaries is recorded and the longest drive counts as your score. As time permits, you can pay to make as many attempts as desired, but only one player advances to a Regional Qualifier for every six paid attempts.
- Regional Qualifiers – The field for a Regional Qualifier is derived from local qualifying events conducted across the United States, Europe, Japan, etc. PLDA membership and a regional entry fee of $150 for amateurs and $250 for pros is required.
- Championship Qualifiers – To qualify for the PLDA World Championship, competitors must have advanced his or her rank into the top (128) Open, (32) Seniors, and (32) Ladies hitters. Long drivers will be grouped into pods for round robin eliminations with the top half advancing to the next round.
Each competitor is given six balls to achieve his or her longest possible drive in two minutes and thirty seconds. A qualified drive must land and come to rest within the specified boundaries of the long drive grid.
Outdoor and Indoor Local Qualifiers
For the 2021 long drive season, the PLDA will allow Local Qualifiers to be held at both indoor and outdoor venues. Indoor local qualifying events will be competed on aboutGolf simulators using the aG app. These indoor simulators use multiple high-speed cameras working together to create the most realistic “flight physics” in the game. You will see every aspect of your shot with precise measurements for club speed, ball velocity, spin, attack angle, and distance. Advanced ball-tracking technology provides players with highly accurate gameplay for indoor qualifying.
Outdoor Qualifiers will be hosted at various venues around the United States and Canada throughout the year. Check back often for an updated list of SIM facilities hosting a PLDA local qualifier near you. Local qualifiers earn the right to enter phase two at a regional qualifying event for the PLDA World Championship. Although Local Qualifiers are open to anyone who wishes to enter, you must be a PLDA member to compete for cash, prizes, and points at regional and tour event. Regional Qualifiers do however allow for an unlimited number of competitors.
Bluff City Shootout to Host PLDA Qualifier in Memphis
Round two the 2021 PLDA World Championship tour is scheduled for April 16-18 in Memphis TN at the Bluff City Shootout. The adrenaline-drenched sport of professional long drive has been described as one of golf’s greatest spectacles with big hitters in the Open and Women’s Divisions of the PLDA World Championship securing a place for themselves in golf history. Nonetheless, if you want to qualify, you will need to bring your A-Game. To advance from a PLDA local qualifier to compete at a regional qualifying event, takes game. Moreover, to make the final stage of a PLDA World Championship event, you will need to have the physical stamina to survive each knockout round before teeing it up in a head-to-head battle for all the glory. Download the PLDA Sport Manual to learn more about the rules and regulations that govern the Professional Long Drivers 2021 World Championship.
Photo courtesy Steve Lagreca