Ian’s longing for top drive prize

Ian Howard
Ian Howard

A golfer is getting into the swing of perfecting his drives after reaching the final of a national competition – thanks to a shopping trip.

Wigan’s Ian Howard qualified for the final of the American Golf UK Long Drive Championship following a hugely impressive drive of 341 yards in the Over 45 category regional qualifier.

Training and practice is going well with just six weeks to go. I’m determined to go there and give it my best shot

Ian Howard

The massive shot is nearly THREE times the length of Wembley Stadium (115 yards).

And incredibly, he only entered the Championship by chance after happening upon the local qualifying event at the Trafford Golf Centre.

He is now just one step away from the over-45 national title – and winning that would earn him a place in the World Championships which will be held in the USA.

Despite his inexperience, Howard has been putting in the practice after his monster qualifying drive as he prepares his bid for glory.

He said: “Having entered the competition by chance I am really pleased to have made it through to the final.

“I’ve now got the long drive bug! Training and practice is going well with just six weeks to go. I’m determined to go there and give it my best shot, compete with a smile on my face and enjoy the experience.”

Howard was one of more than 5,000 budding long drivers who entered the event and now lines up against the best long drivers in the UK at Heythrop Park in Oxfordshire on August 4.

They will battle it out for the national title and the only UK over-45 qualifying spot for the World Championships in Oklahoma.

After watching qualifying come to a close at the Manchester Golf Show, Daniel Gathercole, Director of Marketing and Communications at American Golf said: “The standard of qualifying this year has been amazing.

“To make the final from more than 5,000 entrants is an incredible achievement.

“This Championship really has brought together every type of golfer, from professionals to big-hitting club golfers, and we can’t wait to find our three champions who’ll go on to represent the U.K. and American Golf at the World Championships.”

The 2017 under-45, over-45 and Ladies finals will be shown on Sky Sports.

Spectator entry to the final will be completely free and all are welcome.

The Long Drive Championship is one part of American Golf’s drive to get more people hitting more balls and for 2017 those balls have been going a very long way.