Did Our Tech Director Really Get Hit Volunteering At Pinnacle Exceptional Driver Championship?

Volunteer Experience At The Pinnacle Exceptional Driver Championship

This past weekend I volunteered my services at my local driving range. After all I needed somehow to “earn” my privilege of hitting golf balls for free and testing out all our upcoming models. Granville Golfland was the stage for one of the 128 local qualifying sites that began in March and ending in May. These are conducted across the United States and Canada, with the winner of each event going directly to the Pinnacle Exceptional Driver Championship finals in June held at the Palms Golf Club in Mesquite, NV (also home to the RE/MAX World Long Championship) with a chance to win the $100,000 grand prize.

These events are open to any amateur golfer in the same open division regardless of gender or age. Unlike some long drive tournaments where the winner is one that hits the longest drive, this event rewards both distance and accuracy. The competitors earn points hitting 5 specially marked Pinnacle Platinum golf balls into a 40 yard grid and are awarded started at 200 yards and go to 320 yards with points ranging from 1 to 14. A bonus ball is awarded for anyone who can hit all 5 balls successfully in the grid. The person who accumulated the most points is declared the winner.

My job was a grid monitor along with one of the range employees, who got rewarded for his first day on the job! I was responsible for calling back on a two-radio to say if the ball landed in the grid, if so, what the distance was and the amount of points should be recorded. One other job was dodging the errant drives which are easier said than done. What started out warm and dry at Noon and got progressively cooler and wetter for the next 6 hours. My advice for participants is to do your homework and look at their local weather radar and plan to hit during the best possible time frame. The winner and the longest drives occurred very early into the day. At the end of the day, the cold temperatures coupled with the spitting rain and moist landing area had proved to be the winner as few drives even approached the 270 yard mark.

Hybrid AdDuring the day, no participant hit all 5 balls in the grid – I believe two people might have had 4 in play. From memory during the long day, the popular landing areas seemed to be in the 260-280 range with the competitors hitting maybe two balls in the grid. Pushes and fades seemed to outnumber pulls or hooks. Surprisingly to some, the longest drives of the day had virtually little roll, rather stayed in the air for what have been 8 seconds or so. I tip my hat to the winner Ryan Kirkbride from Midvale, OH who had 4 balls in the grid, but more importantly was augmented by the enormous length as well. While I have seen some people who can hit the ball a long way over the years, I don’t think I have witnessed a ball flying 330+ yards on the fly! By the way, it split the grid too.

I almost wish there was a break during the competition where I could have seen how I would have fared with my driver de jour (Power Play Caiman with True Ace Orange Ion shaft). I know I would have never won hitting the longest ball, yet maybe I could have made up with it in accuracy and getting that bonus ball. Doing the math, let’s see if I hit six balls in the middle of the grid 260 yards out would have given me 48 points and I would have been going to Nevada by 1 point. Oh well, maybe next year… Good luck if you compete in your local qualifier (especially with your Hireko clubs)! Better yet, remember to “duck” if you volunteer for grid monitor duties.

2 comments

  1. Gary Johnson says:

    One thing I still don’t understand is if they are giving away $100,000, why the competition is only open to amateurs? Once you win, you become a professional! Maybe I’m just from the old school where professionals were professionals and amateurs were amateurs. I’m sure Bobby Jones is turning over in his grave.

  2. Michael Foster says:

    Cool report, Jeff, and some interesting tidbits too. Goes to show while distance is nice, accuracy counts too.
    Also, interesting that the winning drive won on hang time, not roll.
    On a related note, a long-drive driver (head only now), 4.5 degrees loft, sold on Ebay yesterday for $845. Yep, $845 plus shipping…. can buy a lot of Power Play Caiman’s for that kind of change.

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