Eastbourne golfer Joe Beal is set to take on the game’s big hitters in the Long Drive World Series.
Beal, a scratch player, was selected as one of 12 invited players for the competition that brings together the most powerful men in golf.
Ten Long Drive World Series tournaments will see 16 golfers (12 invited and four qualifiers) compete in 10 countries with the first taking place in Dubai, starting on February 8.
Competitions will also be held in Mexico, South Africa, USA, Great Britain, Sweden, Russia, Portugal, China and Turkey.
Big hitters from across the globe will compete for the $60,000 top prize at each competition, with the second place earning $30,000 and third collecting $15,000.
The winner of each tournament receives 25 points and, similar to the point scoring system in Formula One, a sliding scale of points are then allocated to the top 12 finishers.
The player with the most points at the end of the series receives a cheque for $1m and the honour of being the player who can launch a golf ball further than any other person on the planet.
The equipment varies slightly from what you would find in a standard golf bag. Clubs are four inches longer than regular golf drivers and have an unforgiving four-degree loft. The ball is teed-up four-inches and contestants are allowed six shots but the ball must land within a certain width on the fairway to be included.
Drives are regularly recorded at more than 400 yards and London’s Joe Miller recently achieved a remarkable distance of 474 yards while competing at altitude in Mexico.
The set up of the competition has proved a popular format for TV and each event brings in a worldwide audience of around 66m viewers.
In 2017, the series also drew crowds in their thousands. It’s far from the traditional golf event and brings an upbeat atmosphere with live DJ’s, pyrotechnics and VIP areas.
Beal, who was a member at the Royal Eastbourne Golf Club for seven years and also plays at the East Sussex National, is looking forward to teeing off Dubai. “I can’t wait to get started,” said the 35-year-old. “It’s an exciting event and it has really captured the imagination of the public.
“People like to see big hits and this certainly delivers on that front. I have been practising and I feel I can really compete with the big hitters.
“I’m striking it around the 380-385 mark and that’s about 20 or 30 yards behind the really long hitters. But you never know what can happen on the day. Weather conditions can also play a part. Some of the guys will just tee-up and spray the ball all over the place but you also have to be accurate as well.
“You have to keep the ball fairly straight so it’s not 100 per cent down to the distance.”
Martin Westney, CEO of Long Drive World Series, added, “2017 was a hugely successful debut year. Our ambition is to grow the concept significantly.”