There is only one higher rung left. At the 2017 finals of the Volvik World Long Drive Championship, Mitch Grassing of Kitchener lost in the men’s finals…tantalizing close to fulfilling a dream.
Still, second place is pretty impressive for a young man who only took up the sport a few years ago.
Grassing, currently a commerce student at Carleton University in Ottawa, started competing in the part sport/part theatre game of long drive at the age of 19. And now, at just 22, he has almost reached the pinnacle of the sport.
The 2016 ILDC Canadian National Champion has been showing form of late. Leading up to this year’s World Championships in Thacker, Oklahoma, he had finished runner-up twice on the WLD circuit.
In the World’s this year, the 6’3″, 265lb Grassing looked ready to make it all the way to wearing the championship belt as he easily advanced to the top 16 in the Open Division. He was second in his round robin pool and then got past 2-time world champion Tim Burke and multi-time finalist Will Hogue as the competition dwindled down. He then worked through Kevin Shook, Wes Patterson, and used a 437-yard drive to beat Kyle Berkshire to earn a spot in the final and a showdown with Justin James.
That was impressive considering Grassing was ranked 18th in the world coming into the week.
Unfortunately Grassing, who developed his skills at the Whistle Bear Golf Club, struggled in the final set and James ultimately took the title with a 435-yard blast.
“The finals of the World Long Drive Championship, it’s a whole different level of pressure,” Grassing said. “The first few balls, I kind of missed them. I think I started rushing a little bit, maybe the pressure got to me. I made an equipment change, but I just couldn’t find it.”
However, all was not lost for Grassing. As a finalist he received major airtime on The Golf Channel and made his fellow Canadians, and the world, aware of his talents. He also took home (USD) $50,000 as a consolation prize.
And another good thing? At age 22 time is on his side. You can be sure he’ll be back next year to try to finish the job and become #1 in the world.