Qualicum Beach man qualifies for world championships

Tom Freeman, heading for Nevada, hadn't even planned to take part in the qualifier

Qualicum Beach's Tom Freeman shows off the hardware he earned as regional champ after qualifying for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships.

Qualicum Beach's Tom Freeman shows off the hardware he earned as regional champ after qualifying for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships.

There were some heavy hitters on the line at Pheasant Glen Golf Resort last weekend, as 40 golfers from as far away as Ontario turned out for a RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship regional qualifier.

It is believed to be the first time a regional qualifier for the long-running competition, which dates back to 1994, has been held on the Island, and punching his ticket to the World Championships, slated for Mesquite, Nevada, Sept. 19-27, was Qualicum Beach’s own Tom Freeman.

Married with two kids, Freeman, 53, read about the qualifier and went to ‘the Glen to watch, with no intention of participating, but signed up with a little prompting on the part of organizers and ended up finishing first in the seniors division.

“The guys running it were very supportive so I thought I’d give it a go, there’s no real pressure or anything, you just hit some balls,” Freeman said Sunday.

Freeman paid the $40, which gives each golfer six balls to whack.

In World Long Drive qualifying there is a grid set up 50 yards wide and the golfers’ ball must land in the grid to count.

“My biggest thing is I just wanted to get one in the grid, if you don’t the length doesn’t count, I got my first one in the grid and then I was away. You don’t want to hit six balls out of the grid,” he chuckled, pointing out “that would be embarrassing.”

The event ran last Friday through Sunday, and Freeman qualified for Sunday’s finals Saturday afternoon with a drive of  285 yards, and won his senior division with a 280.

Sunday he said “had a bit of a wind blowing into you and across, but it was the same for everybody, you have to definitely adjust, you can’t just wind up and whale.

In the qualifier they get six balls with their longest drive counting. In the semi finals — there were three in his group — it’s double knockout head to head.

In the final against an opponent who made the trip from Edmonton, “he actually hit a ball that went 279 and it was rolling a long ways and I thought he might get past me, but it stopped a yard short so that was kind’a nice.

“It felt great (to win),” he chuckled.

“I like golf generally, and I like watching the long drive stuff, it kind of fascinates me,” he said, adding “I’ve just never entered an event before — I’m a bit of a lasher; I like lashing at the ball hard, like most people.

“I’m planning on going down, just for the experience,” he confirmed when asked if he’ll be taking his swing to finals, pointing out Mesquite “is like the shrine of long drive golf and all the big names are there. I just think it would be a lot of fun.”

From what he’s read he says he expecrts there will be between 40 and 50 golfers in the senior’s category.

The drive he qulified with he said is a stock 45” driver, “but now I want to get a specialty long drive driver,” which retail for between $400 and $600 for a good one.

As the newly crowned regional champ Freeman was presented a skookum keepsake crystal trophy.

“Great weekend,” event co-organizer Matt Leslie from Victoria offered from the sidelines Sunday, adding “Pheasant Glen is a perfect venue for this event and we’re looking at bringing it back here next year . . . making it an annual event.”

Both of the Open event qualifiers — Leslie, and Jesse Pettersen — are from Victoria. Leslie won the championship by coming through the winners’ bracket with a drive of 345 yards, while Pettersen had to come through the back door to claim the second qualifying spot with a weekend best drive of 352 yards.

“I thought it was great,” PGGR head pro Gord Melissa said after it was over. “They were very well organized and very appreciative to have the facility available to them. It was lots of fun — it was just great to bring a different energy to the golf club.”

For those following along at home, the reason that Pheasant Glen was chosen to host the long drive qualifier “is because we’re the only course on the Island, maybe even the west coast, whose driving range is long enough to handle the big hitters.”

Just Posted

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased in Parksville

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Map of the site of a proposed 60-unit building project in French Creek. (RDN map)
Legal counsel wants board to award development permit for French Creek project

Issue is on agenda for RDN board meeting on June 22

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read