23 Sep 2023 | Participation |

Long bombers set to show off their skills

by Jimmy Emanuel

Steffan Scutti
Steffan Scutti - the 2022 Asia Long Drive Championship winner

This Sunday, Sandy Golf Links in Melbourne will welcome a different style of golf. One embraced by Golf Australia as part of its notion that “All golf is golf”.

Firstly in simulators, then out on the driving range, some of Australia’s longest hitters will contest the 2023 Australian Long Drive Championship with the hope of booking a ticket to the World Long Drive Final in the United States from October 18-22.

Among those taking part at the home of Australian Golf are winner of the 2022 Asia Long Drive Championship Steffan Scutti and Jordan Bovalina.

Both are excited that Golf Australia’s direction now includes the sport of long drive and the chance to earn a spot on the game’s biggest stage.

“It’s huge. Not only for the fairness and regulation of the sport itself, and a bit more respect for the sport itself,” said Scutti of the Golf Australia involvement.

“Now with Golf Australia backing it, there is a lot of potential in the sport as it is, but if it is run by a professional organisation that is well respected, I think there is a lot of potential for growth.”

Added Bovalina: “To have the main governing body of golf in Australia to be running events and promoting events, it just gives us that broader reach that brings new people into the sport and it is a growing sport.”

That growth will be represented at Sandy Golf Links on September 24 when the qualifying rounds see players able to complete as many sets of six balls as they wish on simulators, before the final eight face off in match play in a traditional grid format.

The event will be opening the doors of long drive to big hitters from around Australia and helping to grow the sport’s profile and participation.

The experienced pair knowing the vagaries of hitting bombs on a launch monitor and in open air.

“My TrackMan numbers are fairly solid I guess. I’ve done TrackMan events before, and I know going from TrackMan to outdoors is always a little bit different, with wind and things that come into play,” Bovalina said.

“I quite enjoy TrackMan events. I tend to prefer a grid event, there is a bit more skill I guess to knock it down into the wind, or throw it up, or shape it both ways with wind direction, instead of just hitting it as hard as possible. Either way though it is great fun.”

The fun will take place in the early stages before it gets down to brass tacks in the last eight, with both Scutti and Bovalina confident of being part of the match play scenario chasing one of two spots to Atlanta in October.

Whereas Bovalina does a lot of his long drive swing work in the simulators at his home club of Cobram-Barooga, Scutti uses the open expanses of Ranfurlie Golf Club in Melbourne’s south-east to work on his game.

A personal trainer by trade, Scutti qualified for the World Championship in America last year via his win in Thailand in the Asian Championships. However, the involvement of one of golf’s big names meant he bided his time for another shot in 2023.

“The date was brought forward for the World Championship in America a couple of weeks for Bryson DeChambeau to compete,” he said.

“I had about four or five days layover from winning Asian Championships to getting to the worlds, on the other side of the world and all the jet lag and stuff, just decided to stick it out and enjoy a week in Thailand.”

With no such plans to miss again this year, Scutti, who boasts a longest competition drive of 403 yards, knows at his best he is among the top Australians in the long drive game.

Bovalina, who’s longest hit is 417 yards, is similarly on the rise having played golf since the age of two and learning to taper his training when it is long drive season.

“Confident within my game, I have been doing a fair bit of work in within the last 6-12 months in the gym,” Bovalina said.

“Once I am preparing for a long drive event, the month leading in I pretty much won’t hit any iron shots, just drivers.”

Those drivers will be soaring come Sunday in Melbourne if he can make it through to the final eight with spectator entry free and the final taking place from 4.30pm-5.30pm.

A show not to be missed.

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