KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – A unique sporting event is returning to Kingsport this weekend after four years.
The World Long Drive (WLD) is hosting its first televised event since the COVID-19 pandemic at Cattails Meadowview Golf Course Monday.
In essence, the World Long Drive is a competition in which golfers use an approved club to hit six balls per try. Each contestant aims for a scoring area hundreds of yards away and progress through a tournament. The rules to qualify can be found on the tour’s website.
Visit Kingsport leaders told News Channel 11 the event is a boon for the city. President Frank Lett said he didn’t have an estimate for the event’s economic impact just yet, but it is expected to be significant.
“We’ll calculate that on the back end, but I’m sure it’ll be in the millions, especially with the media exposure broadcast in over 20 countries on Golf Channel, including the United States,” Lett told News Channel 11 Thursday. “So the exposure portion is probably much greater than the economic impact.”
Kingsport hosted a WLD event in 2019, and it was such a positive experience, Lett said, that he didn’t hesitate when the WLD Tour Manager reached out to ask if they would be interested in hosting again.
Though the decision was easy, Lett said the prep was anything but.
“We’ve been working on it for six or eight months,” said Lett. “Then as we get closer to the week of, there’s a lot going on. As you can see with the painting of the grid, setting up the grandstands at the video boards, vendors, all of the things that make it happen.”
WLD Vice President of Business Zane Smith told News Channel 11 that Kingsport was an obvious choice to reopen the tour because the 2019 event was one of that season’s most popular.
“It’s a very high atmosphere,” said Smith. “It’ll be a lot of fun.”
For athletes, the event is a marker of the sport’s recovery from its hiatus during the pandemic.
“COVID definitely put a damper on where the sport was going,” WLD competitor Jacob Golliday told News Channel 11. “Now it’s cool, in three years’ time we’re back to where we were. So we’re able to see the growth.”
The event tees off Saturday at 8 a.m.