WEST BOUNTIFUL – Defending champion long driver Ryan Reisbeck was back at Lakeside Golf Course last weekend to defend his Rockwell Long Drive Championship.
He finished second behind William Hogue by 15 yards, but the competition combined with the weekend’s events was considered a complete success by Reisbeck and many others in attendance.
“The biggest thing about the entire weekend was that people enjoyed it,” Reisbeck said. “Thursday we had a pro-am tournament where each foursome got a professional long-driver, and it was fun to have the interaction between the players and the pros in the competition.”
New to this year’s weekend of activities was the high school competition. Initially it drew about 16 students but was cut down to 12 due to no-shows and possible scheduling problems.
The overall winner was local Boston Watts, whose 347 yard drive proved to be the winning number in the finals, but wasn’t the longest ball hit during competition.
That honor went to Gavin Campbell, a Northridge High School student who hit a ball 366 yards in the semi-finals.
“I was pleased that we had 12 (kids) at the end because this is a new thing for us and them,” Reisbeck said. “We even had some sophomores come out and give it a try. I think they all enjoyed it because the tournament format is a lot faster. I’m really hoping to grow this part of the competition in the next few years.”
Saturday was the local qualifying event for Re/Max, but many competitors, Reisbeck said, will compete in both events in order to make some money.
Having already qualified for the Re/Max World Championships in September, Reisbeck as excited to get on the tee box and bomb some drives down the range at the West Bountiful golf course.
“I felt drained having put all of this together, but at the same time I was excited to get out there and hit,” he said. “In the semis I hit one 441 yards and in the finals I hit it 422 yards. It felt good just to compete even though I finished second.”
Ryan Winther, who won the first Rockwell Long Drive championship in 2012 and later won the Re/Max World Long Drive championship the same year, finished third.
Hogue beat Winther in the semi-finals by one yard.
“Sometimes it’s just how the ball rolls and sometimes it depends on which side of the grid you hit the ball on,” Reisbeck said. “I was hitting most of mine on the right side and (Hogue) was hitting his on the left side. That day the left side was carrying more than the right and that’s just how it goes sometimes.”
The whole concept behind the competition, he said, was to give locals the opportunity not only to watch the professionals, but to someday perhaps take part in the competition as well.
“In the State of Utah there’s not a lot of opportunities to go out and participate in one of these,” Reisbeck said. “Lakeside wanted the commitment for a couple of years and they’ve done a fantastic job hosting the event the first couple of years. My hope is that we will be able to come back here for many more years.”
Reisbeck also said he’d like to see the sport grow on the professional level, and it all starts by being able to hold local events.
“I think it all goes hand-in-hand with the development of high-schoolers,” he said. “If some people give it a try, it’ll bring awareness to the sport and get more people involved. We’ll be doing this again next year and we appreciate all the support we’ve been getting.”
The Re/Max World Long Drive Championships will take place in Mesquite, Nev. this year.