ORLANDO, Fla. – Coming off record viewership and a season fueled by emergent dynamic personalities, the World Long Drive Association (WLDA) today announced its 2018 schedule, which will feature five televised events airing live on Golf Channel. The announcement comes following September’s Volvik World Long Drive Championship that was televised in nearly 80 countries around the world as Justin James and Sandra Carlborg claimed their respective World Championship belts.
The five televised events are an increase from three in 2017, and collectively account for half of the 10 events on the 2018 World Long Drive schedule, each airing live and in primetime on Golf Channel. Featuring both the Open and Women’s Divisions, three new events are coupled with the return of the Clash in the Canyon (Mesquite, Nev., Tuesday, April 24) and the 2018 Volvik World Long Drive Championship (Thackerville, Okla., Tuesday-Wednesday, Sept. 4-5), which will be staged at the WinStar World Casino & Resort for the fourth consecutive year. The new events include:
Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun (Maricopa, Ariz., Tuesday, May 15)
Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash (Atlantic City, N.J., Tuesday, June 5)
Long Drive Classic presented by Niswonger Children’s Hospital (Kingsport, Tenn., Monday, August 13)
“World Long Drive has quickly emerged as an exciting spectacle in our sport, with record viewership in 2017 driven by a younger audience gravitating toward the dramatic storylines and personalities playing out live in primetime,” said Molly Solomon, executive vice president, content, Golf Channel. “In two years, the number of televised Long Drive events has increased from one in 2016 to now half of the schedule in 2018. It’s a testament to the men and women making an impact on the growth of this sport, bringing a whole new appreciation to hitting it long.”
Jonathan Coachman Joining WLDA Telecasts in 2018
Veteran sports broadcaster Jonathan Coachman will lend his voice to Golf Channel’s live coverage of WLDA events in 2018, serving as play-by-play host at each of the five televised events. Most recently, Coachman worked as an anchor for SportsCenter, having spent nearly 10 years at ESPN where he also contributed to the network’s coverage of The Masters on multiple occasions. Prior, he spent 10 years as a professional wrestling commentator.
2018 WORLD LONG DRIVE ASSOCIATION SCHEDULE:
|March 15-17||East Coast Classic||West Columbia, S.C.|
|April 21-24||Clash in the Canyon (*Golf Channel*)||Mesquite, Nev.|
|May 11-15||Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun (*Golf Channel*)||Maricopa, Ariz.|
|June 4-5||Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash (*Golf Channel*)||Atlantic City, N.J.|
|June 21-23||Bluff City Shootout||Memphis, Tenn.|
|July 6-8||Bash For Cash||Port Robinson, Ont., Canada|
|August 2-4||WinStar Midwest Slam||Thackerville, Okla.|
|August 12-13||Long Drive Classic presented by Niswonger Children’s Hospital (*Golf Channel*)||Kingsport, Tenn.|
|September 1-5||Volvik World Long Drive Championship (*Golf Channel*)||Thackerville, Okla.|
One additional event is scheduled to be staged in the fall, being contested as part of the 2018-2019 season:
Catawba Classic – Hickory, N.C. (November 3-4)
Showcasing the truly global nature of World Long Drive, several events will be staged in 2018 through officially sanctioned WLDA international partners, including stops in Germany, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Additionally, an all-encompassing international qualifier will be staged (late summer) featuring a minimum of four exemptions into the Open Division of the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in September.
Expanded Coverage in 2017 Leads to Most-Viewed World Long Drive Season Ever
Golf Channel’s expanded World Long Drive coverage in 2017 featured three televised events, the Clash in the Canyon in June, Mile High Showdown in July and Volvik World Long Drive Championship in September. Across all telecasts (live and replay) airing on Golf Channel and NBC, 6.4 million unique viewers watched at least some portion of World Long Drive events in 2017, +295% vs. 2016, and the most-viewed season of World Long Drive on record (2013-2017). Wednesday night’s coverage of the World Championship in September was the second most-watched Wednesday live telecast on Golf Channel in 2017, behind only Day One coverage of the PGA TOUR’s Dell Match Play. (Metrics reflect full season viewership or event premiere week audience in accordance with data released by The Nielsen Company.)