Having fun being a ‘Long Driver’

By: By Charles Warner - [email protected]
Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Kanani Lodge looks out of over the course in Manzanillo, Mexico during the International Long Drive Championship. Lodge, a Union resident, competes professionally in Long Drive, a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible. She competed in the championship as a member of Team USA 3 which finished second.
Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Union resident Kanani Lodge watches as the ball she hit travels over the grid in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico. Lodge, who played golf while attending Union County High School, competes professionally in Long Drive, a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible. The championship in Mexico was her first professional competition and her team finished second and she had a personal best ball of 358 yards.
Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Kanani Lodge practices her swing while training for Long Drive competition. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid. A Union resident and 2014 Union County High School graduate, Lodge began playing Long Drive professionally this year and competed in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico.
Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Union resident Kanani Lodge contemplates her next play in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico. Lodge, a 2014 Union County High School graduate, began playing Long Drive professionally this year. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid.
Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Kanani Lodge stands ready for her next play in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico. Lodge, a Union resident and Union County High School graduate, began playing Long Drive professionally this year and the championship in Mexico was her first professional competition. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid and Lodge finished the competition in Mexico with a personal best ball of 358 yards.
Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Union native Kanani Lodge follows through on her swing while practicing for Long Drive competition. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid. A 2014 Union County High School graduate, Lodge began playing Long Drive professionally this year and competed in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico.

UNION COUNTY — Sometimes you stop doing something you’ve done for years because you don’t find it to be fun anymore and then years later take it up again after you find something new to love about it.

That was the case of Union resident and 2014 Union County High School graduate Kanani Lodge who lost interest in a sport she’d played for years and stopped playing it, but recently regained her interest in it and took it — or, more accurately, a version of it — up again.

“I played golf in high school (but) I didn’t play it in college,” Lodge said, explaining that she quit playing because “it wasn’t fun anymore and I wanted to try something else.”

That something else was “track and field” at Savannah State University where Lodge studied Sociology and Naval Science. After graduating from Savannah State University in May of this year (2019), Lodge went to work at, of all things, a country club golf course where she eventually regained her interest in a golf-related sport.

“I worked at a golf course (at) Timberlake Country Club in Chapin,” Lodge said. “I took care of the irrigation system and maintained the fairways and the roughs.”

Working at the golf course soon led to Lodge picking up a golf club again and hitting on the range. Her swing was so powerful, however, that the balls she hit were actually going further than the range allowed. This was soon noticed and led to Lodge being told about “Long Drive” and urged to take it up.

“In Long Drive you use a club similar to what a golfer uses, but instead of playing a round of eighteen holes like normal golfers do, we tee up from a designated tee box and hit into a grid,” Lodge said. “It (the grid) is kind of like a fairway, usually between forty and sixty yards wide and our objective is to hit the golf ball into the grid as far as we can.”

Lodge said that when she was told about Long Drive she was intrigued by it, but had her doubts about being able to take it up.

“Someone told me about Long Drive, that I should look into it,” Lodge said. “It looked like fun, but I didn’t know if I’d be any good at it.”

While she didn’t take it up immediately, Lodge remained interested in Long Drive, an interest that continued and ultimately led to her pursuing a career in it, but only after a change of address.

“I moved to Hawaii and it was in Hawaii that I was hitting and some coaches heard about me,” Lodge said.

Lodge soon had a personal coach who, recognizing her potential, put her in contact with someone who could help her realize that potential.

“My personal coach, Chris Hodge, got in contact with Bobby Peterson who is the number one Long Drive coach in the country,” Lodge said. “So Bobby and I talked over the phone and he invited me to his practice facility in North Carolina. I flew out the week after that phone call at the end of October and haven’t been back to Hawaii since.”

Lodge’s career as a professional Long Driver was getting under way and, just a few weeks later, she was in Mexico for her first professional competition.

“It was the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo,” Lodge said. “There were approximately 45 Long Drivers from around the world. It was a week-long competiton. We competed from Tuesday to Friday.”

Lodge was one of the five members of Team USA 3 and both she and the team did quite well in the competition.

“My team came in second place and I had a personal best ball of 358 yards,” Lodge said.

Her success in her first professional competition has fueled Lodge’s commitment to continue playing professionally and she will be dividing her time between the east and west coasts of the country as she continues training and preparing for her next competition.

“I’m living in Washington state (and) training there and training in North Carolina with Coach Bobby Peterson,” Lodge said.

While she won’t know the exact schedule of her next competitions until the schedule is released at the PGA Show in January, Lodge said she believes the first tournament will be in March. She said she plans to play in that tournament and continue to play professionally in a sport that she now not only finds fun but that she also excells at.

“I love the environment and the excitement of hitting the ball very far,” Lodge said. “It’s just a lot of fun, it’s carefree, and I’m really good at it.”

Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Kanani Lodge looks out of over the course in Manzanillo, Mexico during the International Long Drive Championship. Lodge, a Union resident, competes professionally in Long Drive, a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible. She competed in the championship as a member of Team USA 3 which finished second.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/web1_thumbnail_IMG_3063.jpgPhoto courtesy of Kanani Lodge Kanani Lodge looks out of over the course in Manzanillo, Mexico during the International Long Drive Championship. Lodge, a Union resident, competes professionally in Long Drive, a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible. She competed in the championship as a member of Team USA 3 which finished second.

Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Union resident Kanani Lodge watches as the ball she hit travels over the grid in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico. Lodge, who played golf while attending Union County High School, competes professionally in Long Drive, a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible. The championship in Mexico was her first professional competition and her team finished second and she had a personal best ball of 358 yards.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/web1_thumbnail_IMG_3064.jpgPhoto courtesy of Kanani Lodge Union resident Kanani Lodge watches as the ball she hit travels over the grid in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico. Lodge, who played golf while attending Union County High School, competes professionally in Long Drive, a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible. The championship in Mexico was her first professional competition and her team finished second and she had a personal best ball of 358 yards.

Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Kanani Lodge practices her swing while training for Long Drive competition. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid. A Union resident and 2014 Union County High School graduate, Lodge began playing Long Drive professionally this year and competed in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/web1_thumbnail_IMG_3068.jpgPhoto courtesy of Kanani Lodge Kanani Lodge practices her swing while training for Long Drive competition. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid. A Union resident and 2014 Union County High School graduate, Lodge began playing Long Drive professionally this year and competed in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico.

Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Union resident Kanani Lodge contemplates her next play in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico. Lodge, a 2014 Union County High School graduate, began playing Long Drive professionally this year. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/web1_thumbnail_IMG_3065.jpgPhoto courtesy of Kanani Lodge Union resident Kanani Lodge contemplates her next play in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico. Lodge, a 2014 Union County High School graduate, began playing Long Drive professionally this year. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid.

Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Kanani Lodge stands ready for her next play in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico. Lodge, a Union resident and Union County High School graduate, began playing Long Drive professionally this year and the championship in Mexico was her first professional competition. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid and Lodge finished the competition in Mexico with a personal best ball of 358 yards.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/web1_thumbnail_IMG_3066.jpgPhoto courtesy of Kanani Lodge Kanani Lodge stands ready for her next play in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico. Lodge, a Union resident and Union County High School graduate, began playing Long Drive professionally this year and the championship in Mexico was her first professional competition. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid and Lodge finished the competition in Mexico with a personal best ball of 358 yards.

Photo courtesy of Kanani Lodge Union native Kanani Lodge follows through on her swing while practicing for Long Drive competition. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid. A 2014 Union County High School graduate, Lodge began playing Long Drive professionally this year and competed in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/web1_thumbnail_IMG_3067.jpgPhoto courtesy of Kanani Lodge Union native Kanani Lodge follows through on her swing while practicing for Long Drive competition. Long Drive is a golf-related sport in which competitors try to hit the ball as far as possible into a grid. A 2014 Union County High School graduate, Lodge began playing Long Drive professionally this year and competed in the International Long Drive Championship in Manzanillo, Mexico.
Lodge takes up sport professionally

By Charles Warner

[email protected]