News

Country singer adds star power to longest drive competition

Vincent Ball

By Vincent Ball, Brantford Expositor

Canadian country music star Terri Clark reacts after hitting the ball 229 yards on Saturday during the Canadian National Long Drive Championships at Starks Golf Course in Port Rowan. Forty golfers took part in the 7th annual event, which will see Starks sending the three top winners in the ladies, men's, and seniors divisions to the international championships in Mexico in November. Brian Thompson/Postmedia Network

Canadian country music star Terri Clark reacts after hitting the ball 229 yards on Saturday during the Canadian National Long Drive Championships at Starks Golf Course in Port Rowan. Forty golfers took part in the 7th annual event, which will see Starks sending the three top winners in the ladies, men's, and seniors divisions to the international championships in Mexico in November. Brian Thompson/Postmedia Network

PORT ROWAN - 

Alison Stark had to make a big adjustment to her game when she decided to take golf seriously.

 

“I think it was back in Grade 11 or so,” Stark, 19, said with a smile. “I playing for my high school team at Valley Heights and that’s when I had to make the change - I started wearing shoes.

“I had grown up playing golf but before then I had always played bare foot.”

Stark made the comments after sending some drives long and high down a specially-designed fairway at Stark’s Golf Course in Port Rowan on Saturday. She was among the 40 competitors including eight women taking part in the International Long Drive Challenge Canadian National Championship.

The championship, held at the golf course owned by her father Bill, brought to Port Rowan long-ball hitters from across Canada. It was organized by Bill Stark and Rick Benoit and competitors were vying to compete in the Dominican Republic in November.

A student at Western University, Alison is a member of the varsity golf team and is gearing up for another season. Although some of the long-ball competitors are also good golfers, hitting long-drives off the tee doesn’t always translate into great scores.

“You have to be able to get good distance off the tee but there’s more to golf than just hitting it long,” Alison said. “You have to be able to make all of the shots.

“I usually hit it 250-260 yards off the tee and there are women here who are about 270 yards and better including one who is hitting 301 yards consistently.”

Still, competing in the long-drive competition is a lot of fun as she prepares for the upcoming university golf season.

“It’s pretty intense and it’s a short season,” Alison said. “We have two team practices a week and we’re expected to be out on the course another two or three times a week as well.

“When you combine that with school work, it’s pretty intense.”

Alison is studying chemistry as her major and social studies as her minor and is in her second year of university. Her first varsity tournament of this school year takes place on Sept. 12 and she’s looking forward to another good season.

The competition also featured some star power as Canadian country singer Terri Clark picked up a driver and gave it her best shot.

“Well, I’m not really competing, I’m participating,” Clark said. “The women here hit the ball a lot further than I do but I’m enjoying and I’m glad to be a part of it.

“I’m here to help bring attention to the sport, to help it grow and to encourage more women to get involved.”

Clark comes from Medicine Hat, Alberta and is an eight-time winner of the Canadian Country Music Association entertainer of the year award and a five-time winner of the CCMA’s female vocalist of the year award.

Clark has a cottage in the Port Rowan area and plays Stark’s Golf Course as often as her schedule allows.

“I haven’t been able to play as much this summer as I would have liked because other things have taken up a lot of my time,” Clark said. “I was touring a fair bit and also I’ve been spending a lot of time working on the cottage.

“Still, I did get in a few rounds and I’m happy to be here today to help out Bill (Stark) and support the event.”

-Brantford Expositor

vball@postmedia.com