Norwin graduate wins national long-drive tournament
Justin Moose changed to a different shaft on his driver two days before competing in the Tennessee Shootout long-drive tournament earlier this month.
It turned out to be a pretty good move.
Moose outlasted 36 other players, including 20 of the top-30-ranked players in the Long Drivers of America, to win the first tournament in his long-drive career. The title gained him $12,000 in prize money.
“The Tennessee Shootout is about the second-biggest long-drive tournament, besides the Re/Max World Long Drive (Championship),” Moose said. “This was my third year (competing). The year before that, I ended up taking fifth, and the year prior to that I took sixth. I actually felt really comfortable.”
Moose said the new shaft on his driver differed from his previous one because of its “kickpoints” — referring to the points of most flexibility that help launch the club head at the ball. The new shaft had 32 kickpoints, making it extremely flexible.
“It acted basically like you're cracking a whip,” he said. “Whenever I got down to the ball, it just absolutely catapulted the ball. It was pretty cool.”
The Tennessee Shootout field was broken down into several groups of players. Players advanced from round to round by placing among the top competitors in their groups until they reached the six-player finals. In the finals, each player hit six balls, with the longest drive winning the championship.
In many tournaments, drives surpass 400 yards. Wet conditions prevented that at the Tennessee Shootout, held at Graysburg Hills Golf Course in Greeneville, Tenn., but Moose's drive of 390 yards was good enough to capture the title.
“That was actually the longest ball of the day there by 8 yards,” Moose said. “When you're competing against the best in the world, 8 yards is pretty good.”
A 2004 Norwin graduate, Moose has been competing in long-drive tournaments for several years now. He competed in the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship, held in Las Vegas, for the first time in 2008 and hopes to make his fifth trip there later this year. He placed sixth at the tournament in 2011.
The long-drive success doesn't come as much of a surprise to Moose, who still competes in regular golf tournaments along with long-drive tournaments.
“For some reason, I've always had somewhat of a talent to hit it far,” Moose said. “I'm not saying that they were straight all the time — a lot of my friends will attest to that — but I've always just hit it far. As I've gotten older and a little bit stronger, I've just continued to hit it further and further. The crazy part is that each year since I began, it's gotten longer — even last year to this year, I've gotten longer.”
Moose, who played golf collegiately at Clarion, said he's gained more than 50 pounds of muscle since graduating high school. At 235 pounds now, the extra strength has helped him in his long-drive efforts.
However, he said he still spends more of his time working on his regular golf game than on long drive.
Winning the Tennessee Shootout changed his practice plans.
“It kind of gave me a lot of motivation to really start taking some more interest into long drive and put a lot more practice into it,” he said. “For the next couple months, I'll be working more on long drive than I ever have, and I'm excited for that.”
Moose said he competed recently in a local qualifier for the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship and will compete in sectional qualifiers within the next month. The tournament will begin in September in Mesquite, Nev., with the final scheduled for Oct. 30 in Las Vegas.
Moose said the best part of winning the Tennessee Shootout was the fact that his mother, Vicki Carroll, got to see it, though he forgot to thank her and his father, Skip, in his winner's speech.
“They've been there from the beginning of all sports — never missed a game, never missed a tournament or anything,” he said. “To have my mom there — unfortunately, not my dad, (because) he was at work — it just seemed right. I just have to say thank you to them for truly putting me in the position to have the success I've had. ”