Long drive event right around the corner

Joe Avento • Aug 8, 2018 at 7:04 PM

KINGSPORT — Cattails at MeadowView Golf Course will be the temporary home of golf’s biggest hitters Sunday and Monday when the Tennessee Big Shots, benefiting Niswonger Children’s Hospital, is held.

The event, part of the World Long Drive Tour, is being televised by Golf Channel.

Representatives of Golf Channel have stressed to local organizers that they want the stands full to create a rowdy atmosphere for the telecast. The best part? Admission is free.

If you haven’t seen a World Long Drive competition, you’re in for a treat. It’s not your typical golf event. In fact, golf claps are discouraged. Music blares though loudspeakers and competitors make plenty of noise as well.

An average golfer has club head speed of 70-95 mph. The top tour pros average over 120. Long drive guys can get up to 150 mph. It all adds up to a lot of distance. Don’t be surprised, if the conditions are right, for the winning drive Monday night to travel more than 400 yards.

By the time the TV cameras come on — Monday from 6-8 p.m. — only the best will be competing, having worked their way through a weekend of qualifying and preliminary rounds.

The men’s quarterfinals, semifinals and championship match will be on Golf Channel. The women’s semifinals and championship will also be televised. The competition is being held on hole No. 1 at Cattails.

The big hitters get underway Sunday when men’s qualifying starts at 8 a.m. It will be a day of fun as the Tennessee Golf Association will hold a junior clinic and activities will be put on by the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA. Food trucks and music will also be part of the event, which is expected to wrap up around 3 p.m.

The women’s qualifying starts on Monday and runs from 9 a.m.-noon. Chloe Garner, a former golfer for East Tennessee State’s women’s team who still lives in Johnson City, will be among the competitors. She won a televised event last year.

“We’re thrilled to have Tennessee Big Shots here in Kingsport,” said Jud Teague, executive director of Visit Kingsport. “We feel like Cattails is the perfect place for the event, and I know everybody in the area is excited and looking forward to coming out to see it. To have the Golf Channel airing it live is not only great for the city, but for Niswonger Children’s Hospital, which provides such amazing care to so many children.”

The long drive competition on Monday is the conclusion of a big day of golf.

Earlier, the Niswonger Children’s Hospital Classic Pro-Am tournament will take place at The Olde Farm Golf Club in Bristol, Virginia. Twenty-four pro golfers from the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA Champions and Web.com Tour will join amateurs to raise money for the hospital.

Smokey Robinson will be doing a concert at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville on Sunday night as part of the festivities. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.npacgreeneville.com.

The Niswonger Children’s Hospital Classic is presented by the Ballad Health Foundation and is the children’s hospital’s largest annual fundraiser.

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