Golf Channel Featuring Long Drive-Themed Programming Across News, Instruction and Digital Platforms Throughout October
Renowned Orange County Choppers Partners with Golf Channel to Build New Winner’s Belt for the Champion; Product of 100+ Hours of Hand-Crafted Labor
Towering tee shots, exorbitant swing speeds, and enormous adrenaline collide as Golf Channel once again will celebrate “Long Drive Month” in October. The month of programming will center around back-to-back nights of the 2016 World Long Drive Championship (8-10 p.m. ET on Golf Channel), Tuesday-Wednesday, Oct. 11-12, live and under the lights from WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. Throughout the month, Golf Channel also will integrate the long drive theme into its instruction, studio and digital platforms in celebration of the long ball.
2016 WORLD LONG DRIVE CHAMPIONSHIP: The World Long Drive Championship (Oct. 6-12), will feature an 80-man match play bracket, which will be narrowed to 16 competitors ahead of Golf Channel’s back-to-back nights of coverage, with the champion earning a $125,000 first place prize. The winner also will be presented with a new, custom-designed Championship belt, built by renowned Orange County Choppers, featured on the popular reality TV show on Discovery, American Chopper. The belt itself is the result of more than 100 hours of craftsmanship with hand-tooled leather and precision machined 6061-T6 aluminum.
Golf Channel’s expanded coverage of the Championship will be featured across its on-air and digital news platforms, with results of the qualifying rounds, Oct. 6-10, leading up to live on-air coverage of the competition Oct. 11-12.
“Long Drive is a fascinating segment of the sport, and by showcasing the pure adrenaline of hitting it long, Golf Channel simultaneously will provide our viewers with live golf competition on back-to-back nights outside of the traditional tournament week schedule,” said Phil Piazza, Senior Vice President, Programming, Golf Channel. “Through expanded coverage of the Championship across our Golf Channel platforms, fans will have an opportunity to witness the tremendous talents of the longest golfers in the world playing out in primetime and under the lights.
FORMAT: Competitors will have an opportunity to hit eight (8) drives within a 3-minute time limit in head-to-head matches. The Open Division will consist of 80 players competing in a match play bracket. The field will be made up of exempt competitors, regional qualifiers, tour event winners and international representatives. 53 of the 80 players have already gained entry into the Championship, while the remainder of field will be rounded out by 27 of the 76 entrants scheduled to compete in a “Last Chance Qualifier,” taking place Thursday, Oct. 6 on the first day of the World Long Drive Championship. For a full list of player rankings (and criteria) visit HERE.
The Senior Division (age 45+) will be made up of a field of 41 competitors, also being contested in a match play bracket that consists of exempt competitors, regional qualifiers and international representatives. The Ladies Division will be comprised of 16 competitors, who will compete in a points merit format that will determine the eight players advancing to match play. Golf Channel on-air personality Blair O’Neal will be among the 16-player Ladies Division field, where she’ll look to lean on her reputation for length off the tee dating back to her college golf career at Arizona State. During her freshman year while competing for the Sun Devils, O’Neal won the long drive competition staged in conjunction with the 2000 NCAA Women’s Golf Championships.
The 2016 Long Drive season welcomed the return of local and regional qualifying for the World Long Drive Championship, staged as part of the Callaway World Long Drive Qualifying Series, where competitors had an opportunity to earn an exemption into the field at WinStar. The Series also introduced a new ball to Long Drive competition, with Volvik’s Vista iV becoming the official golf ball of Long Drive competition, with its signature offering of golf balls in four different color options.
LONG DRIVE MONTH THEMED PROGRAMMING: Golf Channel will integrate the long drive theme across its instructional and news programming featuring tips and other dedicated segments throughout the month. The shows also will welcome Long Drive competitors to share their secrets:
The Golf Fix, Monday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. ET: Host Michael Breed (and World Long Drive Championship analyst) will be joined by two-time World Long Drive winner, and defending champion Tim Burke (2013, 2015). The show will focus on adjustments amateur golfers can make to add distance to their drives.
Playing Lessons, Monday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m. ET: A special encore presentation of Playing Lessons will air on Monday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m. ET, featuring World Long Drive champions Joe Miller (2010) and Jamie Sadlowski (2008, 2009) joining Golf Channel host Charlie Rymer in Southern California to offer insight on how to increase distance off the tee.
PGA TOUR Champions Learning Center: Throughout the month, several PGA TOUR Champions players will be featured onPGA TOUR Champions Learning Center to provide insight on getting longer off the tee. Players expected to be featured include: John Daly, Tom Lehman, Bernhard Langer and Fred Funk.
School of Golf: Co-hosts Martin Hall and Sara Brown will incorporate the Long Drive theme in eachSchool of Golf episode airing throughout October.
Morning Drive: Morning Drive throughout 2016 has welcomed Long Drive participants in-studio to showcase their distance on-air in addition to regularly featuring segments focusing on the longest drives of the week on the PGA TOUR. In anticipation of the World Long Drive Championship, Morning Drive will welcome long drivers Ryan Reisbeck (tomorrow, Sept. 15), and two-time Champion Tim Burke (Tuesday, Oct. 4).
Golf Central: Golf Channel’s evening news program will feature daily updates the week of the Championship (Oct. 6-12) following each stage of the competition.
Golf Channel Digital: In the weeks leading up to Golf Channel’s coverage of the World Long Drive Championship Oct. 11-12, Golf Channel Digital will feature dedicated Long Drive tips and analysis preparing viewers for back-to-back nights of the Championship. Coverage will be featured across the network’s Digital platforms, including the Golf Channel Academy instruction App.