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World Long Drive

Photos by Jim Headley

The 2019 Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun/World Long Drive began Friday morning with qualifying at 8 a.m. Final qualifying was Friday afternoon. The master’s division takes place Saturday, open division is Sunday and Monday and the woman’s division is on Tuesday. The open and women’s final will be Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the Golf Channel from Ak-Chin Circle next to UltraStar Multi-tainment Center.

IF YOU GO
What: World Long Drive & Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun
When: April 12, 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
April 13, 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
April 14, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
April 15, 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
April 16, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (televised 1-3 p.m.)
Where: Ak-Chin Circle Field, 16000 N. Maricopa Road
How much: Free
Info: AkChinSouthernDunes.com/WLD

The World Long Drive is back.

Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun is April 12-16 on the field at Ak-Chin Circle next to UltraStar Multi-tainment Center. The competition starts with an Open Division of 32 and a Women’s Division of 16. Last year, Will Hogue of Tennessee won the Open Division with a drive of 421 yards, and Phillis Meti of New Zealand won the Women’s Division with a drive of 380.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is partnering with World Long Drive Association for the event. Competition starts at 7:30 a.m. each day. By the last day, April 16, there will be eight men and four women competing in the finale, which will be televised live on The Golf Channel from 1 to 3 p.m.

“This year we have an extra day of qualifying,” Ak-Chin Southern Dunes General Manager Brady Wilson said.

Golf fans can come out and watch for free and enjoy shaded stadium seating. Wilson said there is a lot of excitement in the early rounds, when up to four competitors are driving golf balls at the same time.

This year, the event has moved from May to April, putting it first on the tour.

“We’ve had a whole year to plan to make sure it’s pristine,” Wilson said. “We’ve really produced a great venue.”

He said the agronomy team of Dan Payson and Wes Hamer have the grid looking great. He credited Brittany Sourjohn with the smooth running of last year’s event and said she has been excellent at dealing with the many moving part that make up this year’s Smash.

Organizers also need volunteers for grandstand attendants, runners/floaters, hospitality, retail and player registration. Volunteers must be age 18 and up. Contact Amanda at ARoninger@ak-chin.nsn.us.

The five-day competition is two events. One is a regional qualifier for the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in Oklahoma in Aug. 30-Sept. 4. Anyone can try out, Wilson said. The other event is the Smash in the Sun Tour Event.

In addition, there will be a Masters Division on Saturday for age 45 and up.


This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Submitted photo

Golf’s longest drivers will compete in Ak-Chin’s first nationally televised sporting event May 15.

IF YOU GO
What: Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun World Long Drive
When: May 11-12, 14-15
Where: Ak-Chin Circle Field, 16000 N. Maricopa Road
General admission: Free

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What: World Long Drive Pro-Am
When: May 15
Where: Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, 48456 W. Hwy. 238
General admission: Free

Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun is a three-day World Long Drive tour event May 11-12 and 14-15 at a course grid north of UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle.

It’s the second stop on the World Long Drive Tour, which began in April with Mesquite, Nevada’s Clash in the Canyon.

The sporting spectacle will feature men’s and women’s qualifying competitions.

The last day of the inaugural competition will be broadcast live on The Golf Channel and feature the final eight competitors, whittled down from a bracket of 32.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes will also host a Pro-Am event the morning of May 15.

“It’s showcasing Ak-Chin and Maricopa as a destination,” said Brady Wilson, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes general manager.

The grid at Ak-Chin Circle was specially groomed for the event by Southern Dunes staff. Stadium seating will be constructed to hold 500 to 1,000 fans. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Brady Wilson. Photo by Mason Callejas

The event is free and open to the public. It’s expected to appeal to golfers and non-golfers alike.

“If you’re not a golfer, the fun party atmosphere – along with seeing how far these guys hit the ball – and the national television aspect also makes you want to see it,” Wilson said.

It’s the first time the World Long Drive Association will make a tour stop in Arizona, according to its website. Wilson said it will return next year for the same event.

After Ak-Chin’s Smash in the Sun, the tour makes stops in New Jersey, Tennessee, Canada, the Texas/Oklahoma Border and then back to Tennessee before the Volvik World Long Drive Championship returns to Texoma Aug. 30.


This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.