Art Sellinger’s four trips to the U.S. National Long Drive finals along with his two championships in 1986 and again in 1991 propelled him into a Long Drivers of America Hall of Fame induction in 2000; however; Art’s achievements and his contributions in the sport of long drive had really only just begun at that point in time.
Any number of people can attempt to breakdown the history of long drive into whatever segments as may please them; however, they really only make sense if you separate the history into three parts with the first part being the first twenty years beginning in 1975 when GOLF DIGEST and the PGA Tour were involved in the sport, which was followed by the Art Sellinger era after he formed the LDA Long Drivers of America in 1994 and maintained full control over long drive competition for the next twenty years, until the third phase began after Art sold the LDA to the GOLF CHANNEL in 2013 with that phase being abruptly interrupted in 2020 by COVID-19.
While the first early era of the sport gave it the validation of PGA Tour interest and participation, and while the post-Sellinger era after Art sold the LDA rights to the GOLF CHANNEL gave the event exposure that it had never had before, the Sellinger era was the era that served to define the sport in its present form.
Art laid a solid foundation for the sport by establishing a governing body, which sanctioned both professional long-drive tour events as well as grass roots amateur competitions. He also let long drive drift away from the staid and conservative golf industry and he took the event to the flashiest location on the planet, the capital of showtime… Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 2002 Sports Illustrated dubbed Art the “Vince McMahon in Softspikes” with SI writer Austin Murphy noting that, “He has positioned his sport as a sort of extreme golf, a WWE on the range… In the bleachers decorum is discouraged, alcohol consumption winked at, rowdiness the rule. On the tee competitors with nicknames like The Beast, Golfzilla, and The Blond Bomber are miked and encouraged to grunt, scream, and talk trash.”
A savvy businessman, Art teamed up with headline sponsor Re/Max and he made arrangements to produce the telecast on ESPN. When the event was moved to Mesquite, Nevada (the soon-to-be mecca of long drive) arrangements were made for a world class competition grid to be built just beneath scenic Flat Top Mesa in the Virgin Mountain range.
Art teamed with the U.S. Junior Golf Association to run multiple juniors division championships for boys and girls and he added older divisions for Super Seniors, Grand Champions, and Legends. He also ran the Military Long Drive Championship, which brought in servicemen from across the globe to compete on the championship grid in Mesquite.
Large grandstands and huge standing TV monitors were positioned for the events, which were gala affairs with fly-overs by the Blue Angels, fireworks displays, exhibitions by Ben Witter and others, first-class banquets, and Hall of Fame ceremonies.
Art also made connections with the golf majors like Cobra, Adams, and Callaway to bring them into the sport such that they finally began to manufacture and offer low loft long drive driver heads for competitors.
During this time Art was also engaged in running his own business Sellingers Power Golf in Roanoke, Texas, as well as working as Manager of the Pinnacle Long Drive Team, which performed exhibitions across the globe. Art himself has conducted more than 1500 exhibitions and clinics, and through his Art of Long Driving enterprise he has sold more than 130,000 golf instruction videos.
Art has served as a color commentator for televised long drive events on ESPN as well as for the GOLF CHANNEL, and he has been featured in commercials for TaylorMade, Nitro golf balls, Pinnacle golf balls and for the Power Swing Band.
On the basis of these many achievements, as well as his profound imprint on the sport, at this point in history Art should clearly be considered to be “the father of the modern sport of long drive.”
1986 – Art Sellinger 311 yards
1991 – Art Sellinger 326 yards