The biggest hitters in the world of golf will tee off in Kingsport in August when the World Long Drive Tour pays a visit. The event, scheduled for Aug. 12-13 at Cattails at MeadowView, is branded Tennessee Big Shots and will benefit the Niswonger Children’s Hospital. The finals of the competition will be televised live in prime time on the Golf Channel.
“The whole world will get to see what we have to offer right here in beautiful Kingsport,” Alan Levine, executive chairman, president and CEO of Ballad Health, said Monday during a news conference at Cattails announcing the details of the event.
In addition to showcasing the area, the event will feature the best athletes in their field. The men and women on the World Long Drive Tour regularly hit golf balls more than 400 yards. For comparison, Bubba Watson averages 313 yards this year on the PGA Tour, while Dustin Johnson averages 311.
The long drive event will be run in conjunction with the annual Niswonger Children’s Hospital Classic, a tournament featuring a field full of celebrities which will be held Aug. 13 at the Olde Farm in Bristol, Virginia. It’s a partnership between the MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center, Visit Kingsport, the city of Kingsport and the Golf Channel.
“Golf Channel wants us to have 500 people,” said Frank Lett, senior associate with Visit Kingsport. “I think we can beat that by a long shot, no pun intended. What a great opportunity to showcase our community, our region and what’s going on here in Northeast Tennessee. And then to have the Golf Channel broadcast it on that Monday night, we couldn’t be more excited.”
Long drive champions Chloe Garner and Trent Scruggs were on hand Monday for the announcement. Garner, who won an event on the tour last year, lives in Johnson City.
“Hitting in front of the home crowd will be amazing,” Garner said. “I know there’s a lot of people interested, a lot of my friends. I think it will be one of the best turnouts the Golf Channel will have for an event.”
The long drive event begins with qualifying and preliminary rounds on Sunday, Aug. 12. The following day is when the competition will really heat up with men’s and women’s quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. The finals will be televised from 6-8 p.m. Admission is free.
Proceeds of both events will go to the Niswonger Children’s Hospital, which serves a 29-county area that covers parts of four states. It serves more than 200,000 children and their families.
“This truly is a regional opportunity for us to work together on something that’s really important for all of us,” Levine said. “This is one of the few children’s hospitals in the country that’s in a rural area and it takes a lot of support for children’s hospitals like this to function. This event is a great example of this.
“Kingsport stepped up and said ‘We want to be part of this.’ We have folks in Southwest Virginia who stepped up to provide support for our tournament, and they’re supporting a children’s hospital that is really a regional asset for everyone. I just hope everybody can appreciate how critical that is.”