World Long Drive Suspends Operations
2020 and the pandemic took its toll on many businesses. The impact that affected Long Drive the most was the announcement that World Long Drive (WLD) would suspend operations. Ultimate Long Drive, Inc (ULD) had recently entered into a partnership arrangement with TGD / WLD to utilize Xtreme Long Drive® (XLD) as a feeder, a “minor” league professional series, to provide more professional competition and to prepare long drivers for WLD.
Having a natural progression from Amateur Long Drive™ (ALD) to XLD, then to WLD made a lot of sense. Many hitters were locked out of WLD due to restrictions that limited tour participation to only those ranked in the top of their series. There’s nothing better to prepare long drive athletes than competition.
Xtreme Long Drive® – The Successor
Stepping up to fill the void left by WLD is a tall order. No other long drive company is better organized, equipped, staffed, and prepared to make this commitment than Ultimate Long Drive, Inc. Entering into a fifth season of competition, ALD will sanction over 150 events in 27 countries….with more coming on board. Already having the infrastructure in place for XLD, the company decided to expand the professional road map to include a global tour and world championship.
Jeff Crittenden was named Tour Commissioner for XLD and Ed LaPierre joined the team as National Tournament Director to begin the process of creating a world-class professional long drive tour. The 2020 season was limited to three events that began in late July with Mesquite, Nevada, then to Des Moines, Iowa in September, and finishing with the first XLD World Championship in Greensboro, NC at the end of October.
Cog Hill Golf & Country Club
One of the most exciting announcements hitting our industry prior to the pandemic was WLD’s arrangement with Cog Hill Golf & Country Club to build a long drive grid on Cog Hill’s adjacent property. Cog Hill, having served the Chicago, Illinois market since the 1920s is well-experienced in the realm of championship golf. The ULD / WLD road map included an eventual unification of the two company’s efforts with plans to combine the world championships within the next three years.
Shortly after the the announcement that WLD would suspend operations, ULD representatives traveled to Chicago to meet Cog Hill PGA General Manager Troy Newport and to see the progress on the grid. That meeting lead to an agreement for Cog Hill to host the 2021 XLD and ALD World Championships.
XLD World Challenge Tour™
One of the first orders of business has been to create a four event “Major” series for XLD. That series is named the XLD World Challenge Series™ and begins in February at an all new long drive venue in Sarasota, Florida. That schedule is as follow:
World Challenge Series Event #1 – Suncoast World Challenge at Premier Sports Complex in Sarasota, FL on February 6th & 7th.
Premier Sports Complex is 550 yard long by 300 yard wide world-class soccer facility in Sarasota, FL. Combined with the Bradenton Area Sports Commission, this facility has the amenities to host a large-scale event.
World Challenge Series Event #2 – Crush the Canyon World Shootout at Mesquite Sports & Event Complex in Mesquite, NV on April 24th & 25th.
Mesquite Sports and Event Complex has been dubbed the home of Long Drive by many in the world of long drive. The facility hosted the World Championship in 2008-2012. This world-class facility was designed to host long drive events.
World Challenge Series Event #3 – Balloon Fiesta World Open at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, NM on June 26th & 27th.
Balloon Fiesta Park is the home of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta every October. This event is the largest of its kind in the world. The facility includes a 400 yard driving range, 6 hole short game course, 6 multi purpose sports fields. The long drive event will feature a 550 yard long grid by 150 yards wide with spectacular views and amenities.
World Challenge Series Event #4 – Jeff Crittenden’s Xtreme Long Drive® World Championships at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Chicago, IL on September 11th – 19th.
Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Chicago is synonymous with championship golf and recently built the only purpose made grid for Long Drive in the world.
XLD Global Tour
The 2020 / 2021 XLD Tour will actually kick off November 7, 2020 with the East Coast Classic at Par Tee Golf Center in Columbia, SC and will include fifteen to eighteen global events. Those venues and dates are being firmed up and will be announced at the 2020 XLD Worlds in Greensboro, NC on October 31, 2020.
Long Drive Japan Championship
ULD recently signed a five year Partnership Agreement with Long Drive of Japan (LDJ) to sanction the Long Drive Japan Championship. This agreement will bring Open, Masters, and Women to the 2021 ULD Worlds at Cog Hill. In addition to pro athletes qualifying for Cog Hill, for the first time in history, amateurs from Japan will be coming to compete for a World Championship in Youth, Junior, Open, Senior, Super Senior, and 70+ divisions. The LDJ partnership is the first of several to be announced by year-end 2020.
Amateur Long Drive™ Stronger Than Ever
The 2020 “year-of-the-pandemic” caused ALD to limit its planned 100+ event schedule to just over 40 events. Regardless of the limitation, the 2020 Worlds were held at Barefoot Resort & Golf with over 70 athletes competing for world title. Play was suspended in both Canada and India making this a USA-only Worlds. See the ALD Results HERE.
Latino American Long Drive
The 2020 Latino American Long Drive Championship was another COVID casualty, but will return in 2021 bigger than before. ULD recently signed a long-term agreement with Latino Golf Management Group to sanction the event and precluding series. This series includes competition in 23 Latin American countries all qualifying athletes for the Latino American Long Drive Championship. Top finishers from this event will join other hitters from around the world at Cog Hill in 2021.
Television is a huge factor in justifying sponsorship. TGD and WLD did a world-class job bringing our sport to the masses. The standard set by their production will be tough, if not impossible to match. At least initially, long drive on TV will look differently. Although live TV is exciting and preferred by some viewers, long drive will be a better product as pre-recorded and packaged programming for delayed broadcast and on-demand. ULD will produce all Majors on the schedule for TV. We will distribute digitally to Roku, Apple TV, Amazon fire, and Social platforms. Programming will also be submitted to other networks for consideration.
The Future of Long Drive
The future of long drive is very bright. We may have lost a major player in the industry in 2020, but the impact they made and the progress they (and others before them) began will be continued. There will be adjustments and challenges in the coming seasons. Sponsorship plays a major part in the success of any sport. Coming out of the pandemic, and over-coming any doubts left in our industry will certainly affect sponsorship acquisitions, but we at ULD are prepared to meet those challenges.