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The First Tee of Chattanooga Long-Drive Contest on Tap

The First Tee of Chattanooga Long-Drive Contest on Tap


Bob Gary, Contributing Editor, http://www.ifyoulikegolf.com

Bob Gary


Matt Robertson estimates that his haymaker tee shot is good for about 325 yards.

 But he said all 325 is likely to get him in the inaugural Chattanooga Long-Drive Competition presented by The First Tee of Chattanooga is a word of thanks for coming out.

Distance-wise, “I’m probably not in the top five in the area,” said Robertson, the reigning Chattanooga Men’s Metro and Brainerd Invitational Champion. “There are some guys who are a good deal longer than I am.”

The competition begins with qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 4, and Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 9-11, with the finals set for 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16. Qualifying and the finals are set for The First Tee of Chattanooga’s facility at 2453 Hickory Valley Rd.

The finals will be broadcast live on WGOW-FM’s SportTalk radio show. Mike Jenkins, chairman of The First Tee of Chattanooga, said Thursday, Oct. 16 will be much more than just a long-drive competition. For one thing, he and SportTalk co-host Gary (Dr. B.) Haskew will go head-to-head in a 9-iron closest-to-the-hole shootout – and cash prizes will be awarded to a lucky backer of each contestant.

“We will have activities for folks of all ages and abilities. For example we’ll have a straight-drive contest, a glass-breaking contest like they do on [The Golf Channel’s] Big Break and a putting contest,” said Jenkins, who added that a hamburger cookout is also set.

“We really want to make that Thursday something much bigger than just the finals – more like a festival, with the long-drive competition at the center of it,” he said.

The competition is open to all – professionals and amateurs alike. Senior (at least 55 years of age on Oct. 16) and women’s long-drive competitions are also scheduled. Pre-registration isn’t required, but is recommended; a form will be posted soon at thefirstteechattanooga.org.

Qualifying participants will get three shots for $10 and may enter twice. A player’s longest drive – provided that drive stays in a 40-yard-wide fairway – will be recorded.

The top four qualifiers in the main draw, as well as the top two seniors and top two women, will make the Oct. 16 finals. The winners will get trophies – and will see their names engraved on a plaque that will be on permanent display at The First Tee of Chattanooga.

But whose are those names are likely to be? Jenkins said the winner of the main draw is probably going to be “someone we don’t know.”

Among area players who might bear watching, he said, are Brandon Cissom, Keoni Vidrine, UTC basketball legend Brandon Born, Council Fire member Cres Dodd, who “hits it stupid long” – and Robertson.

As he downplayed his own chances, Robertson talked up Cissom, Matt Crowder, David Watts, Logen Killen, among others, and Matt Hadden, with whom he teamed to win the Tennessee Golf Association’s Four-Ball title two years ago.

“Matt can hit it 40 yards past me,” Robertson said. Told that that would put a Hadden bomb in the 365-yard range, Robertson said evenly that “I’ve seen him hit multiple balls that long.”

“I don’t know whether I can compete, to be honest,” Robertson said, “but I’ll come out because it’s for The First Tee [of Chattanooga]. They do so much for golf, so whenever I can help them out, I will.”


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