Burlingtonians take long drive awards - again. Samji and Lowe whack that golf ball!

SportsBy Rick Benoit

September 6, 2014

To some people, playing golf is fun, for some it’s business – yet they all say drive for show and putt for dough.
But to a long driver, it’s all about drive for show! A long driver has one goal in mind – hit the golf ball as far as you possibly can and make sure it stays within the boundaries or “grid” as it’s called.

Golf - Stephen Lowe

Stephen Lowe – winding it up.

The International Long Drive Challenge Canadian Long Drive Championships was held over labour day weekend in Port Rowan, Ontario at Starks Golf Course. Seems like an odd place to have a long drive event? However, the long drivers need a long flat hole about 450 yards wide with no obstructions in place, and therefore a golf hole works perfectly, and Starks generously donates all 9 holes for the weekend event.
The objective is simple. Each hitter gets 3 minutes and 6 balls and with a live DJ spinning the tunes in the background, the longest ball in the grid wins. This is the extreme of golf, the home run derby of golf some may say. PGA Tour players will average swing speeds in the 115-120mph range. The long drivers will swing higher than 130 mph. Some will shatter their clubs on impact, others have been known to break ribs while swinging. But ultimately, if you ask every golfer in the world everyone wants to hit the ball farther!

Blistery winds set the tone for some super hitting Aug 30 and 31st at the ILDC Canadian Long Drive Championships at Starks Golf Course in Port Rowan, Ontario. Ladies began the day with two time defending champion Fareen Samji of Burlington opening the day with a personal best 329 yards. ” There was a nice right to left breeze all day long and I worked really hard to get a draw swing going to have the wind help me a little and it paid off, ” said Samji of her incredible drive which was followed by sets of 317, 325 and 321.

In an interesting turn of events, youngster and newcomer Cory Ann Pond of Simcoe, a second year student at Georgian College defeated Lisa “longball” Vlooswyk of Calgary in the Semifinals with a drive of 325 yards. In the final set, Samji bombed a 321 yard drive to defeat Pond and become the 3 Time ILDC Canadian Women’s Long Drive Champion. Samji will once again represent Team Canada 1 at the International Team Finals in the Dominican Republic Nov 16-23rd.” I always enjoy hitting against Lisa and she is such a great competitor having won this event so many times ” says Samji. “It was nice to see Cory hitting the ball so well and let’s face it, she is 20 and I am 40 this year!  She kept me on my toes,” exclaimed the Burlingtonian Samji, who is a Pedorthist and very active in the Burlington community.

Golf wmyetfinish

Fareen Samji , a Burlingtonian swings for one of those really long drives

Port Rowan’s own Bill Stark began the seniors division ( over 45 ) on fire with a crushing 357 yards to make it to the final round. Contenders Ron Lampmans, Todd Herold and Stephen Lowe battled it out to see who would meet Stark in the finals and Burlington’s Stephen Lowe edged out Lampmans with 345 yards to get to the final round. The event is a double elimination knockout so Lowe had to beat Stark twice in the finals to defend his title. Lowe’s mental prowess prevailed and drives of 361 yards and 351 yards proved enough to beat Stark and become the 2 time ILDC Canadian Seniors Long Drive Champion.” It was a tough ride coming through the losers bracket, but I knew I had it in me, ” said Lowe. ” I have been working on tweaking a few things and some new equipment and it all just seemed to come together at the right time, ” said Lowe, a national accounts manager with PPG Industries.

GOLF far with trophy

Fareen Samji with her cup – she has taken this award before. Her next challenge is at the International level in November.

The day ended with an incredible display of power from the Men’s open division and Ottawa’s David Dahms set a grid record of 408 yards. The battle was on and drives of 370 yards were being eliminated! Niilo Schonfeld of Toronto was in fine form and got into the final round early with a 384 yard bomb. David Dahms of Ottawa and Connor Hadaway who both hit it over 400 yards several times during the day, battled it out with Hadaway edging out Dahms to meet Schonfeld in the finals. In the first final, Hadaway narrowly edged out Schonfeld by 5 yards to force a second set. However, Schonfeld came back with an incredible answer to Dahm’s record and set a new grid record of 412 yards with his sixth and final ball to claim the title as the new 2014 ILDC Canadian Men’s Long Drive Champion.

The top three men, the top senior and the top woman receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Dominican Republic to hit for the ILDC Team Canada 1 at the International Long Drive team finals Nov 16-23rd 2014. Lowe, Samji and Schonfeld were all Team Canada last year and are the defending champions in the team category and this year are looking forward to joining their team mates Hadaway and Dahms to regain their title.


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