Grip it and rip it

Ex-Zag Floyd leads group of qualifiers to regional event RE/MAX long drive local qualifier

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Jaremy Wallis takes a swing at the 18th hole on the Link Golf Course in Post Falls Saturday morning during the RE/MAX long drive contest.

POST FALLS - With the wind blowing at the The Links Golf Course on Saturday, it was a nice day for a drive.

A total of 26 competitors from different states and Canada converged on the 18th hole at The Links Golf Course in Post Falls to settle just who had the longest drive in the area.

Former Gonzaga basketball player Colin Floyd of Harrington, Wash., won a local qualifier in the RE/MAX Long Drive Competition on Saturday at The Links Golf Course with a wind-aided shot of 384 yards. The competition was held on the straightaway par-5, 500-yard 18th hole.

Three others - Tim Seegan of Spokane (372 yards), Dillon Diemert of Coeur d'Alene (371) and Mikey Sater of Camas, Wash. - also qualified in the open division for the Region 9 competition Aug. 3 in Billings, Mont. Jerry Swanson of Oregon (374) and Brandon Hobson (360) of Washington advanced in the senior division (age 50 and older).

"The wind was everything today," said Diemert, who also organized the event. "Tim had the longest shot and then left. Then the wind changed directions three different times - it was with us and then at our backs - and changed to nothing."

During his attempts, the wind wasn’t a factor for Diemert.

“I hit mine with no wind,” Diemert said. “We didn’t get any help from the rain last night either. Colin had the wind at his back and it had everything to do with it. The wind came up at least three times, plus last night’s rain didn’t help because we didn’t get any roll.”

The competion was held on the 18th hole because the driving range at The Links wasn’t long enough.

“I’ve been doing this for a few years,” Diemert said. “I came from California and none of the local courses were holding these kinds of qualifiers. You really need to have a driving range that’s at least 380 yards long, and none of the other courses have that. I golf here a lot and we picked the 18th because it’s the perfect setup for what you need.”

Contestants had six shots per entry, but were allowed to enter as often as they liked during the event, which started at 8 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m.

All told, the 26 players entered a total of 50 times.

“Overall, I’m really impressed,” Diemert said. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect today. This is a real grass roots area, so I figured for turnout 15 or 20 would be good.”

Shawn White, 20, of Coeur d’Alene, posted a 365-yard drive late Saturday morning.

“I just started preparing for this on Wednesday,” White said. “Just for now, it’s kind of grip it and rip it. I’ve golfed all my life and hit a pretty big ball so I figured I’d get into it.”

“Everyone was basically grip it and rip it,” Diemert said. “There was no real style, just a matter of how far it goes in this sport. The one I hit was a draw shot, and everyone else in the top five had a draw also.”

Sater, 23, participated in the event for the second straight year.

“I’ve been practicing for a while,” Sater said. “My dad and I have been working on hitting the ball uphill a lot this year.”

Sater’s first shot went 353 yards.

“I thought I hit it too high,” Sater said. “I wasn’t getting any roll because it rained last night.”

After switching clubs, he got enough to move into a tie.

“I got my number because the wind carried it a little,” he said.

Sater, who entered four times, added that despite competing last year, he was still nervous.

“The nerves are always there,” Sater said. “I’m starting to get more experience. Everyone here is nervous going up to the tee and swinging 130 to 140 miles an hour. All the nerves are there, but experience is key in this.”

By winning on Saturday, Floyd receives a bye into the second round of the Region 9 event. Organizers are planning to hold another qualifier in a few weeks at The Links.

Dave Imhof takes a swing at the 18th hole on the Link Golf Course in Post Falls during the RE/MAX long drive contest Saturday afternoon.

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