by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — With a pulled oblique muscle, Senior Master Sgt. Mark Bronson took his swings at the 2010 Military Long Drive first-round competition Aug. 7 on Fort Carson.
He had not spent as much time on the driving range this year as he had in years past. But, the conditions were with him that afternoon as he blasted his first ball 389 yards down the range to beat out 30 competitors and advance to the regional long drive competition in Dallas.
With his muscle healed, Sergeant Bronson is ready to hit the driving range five nights a week, he said. And he’s gunning for a win in Dallas that would send him to the national finals in Mesquite, Nev., for a chance to win $10,000.
Sergeant Bronson, 21st Medical Support Squadron, started golfing when he was 18, saying, “I came late to the game. But, I could always hit the ball very far. I could outdrive my friends.”
Four years ago he learned of the Military Long Drive Competition held each year on Fort Carson and signed up. The contest is open to active duty, Reserve, National Guard, military retirees and family members 18 years and older.
Each contestant gets six balls per attempt with the goal of hitting the ball the furthest. Balls must hit and stay within a 60 yard-wide grid, calling for an accurate as well as a long drive, Sergeant Bronson said. The Military Long Drive contest is part of the Re/Max World Long Drive Competition, which began in 1975 and has eight divisions. The annual competition draws golf’s big hitters.
In his first year in the game, Sergeant Bronson placed second with a 396-yard drive. In the second year, in the rain, he took first place with a 386-yard drive and went to the regional competition. But, his chance at the finals fell apart.
“My driver broke in the first round and I had no back up,” he said.
Now, he has three drivers, just in case.
Last year, the winning drive at the Military Long Drive Competition was 343 yards by three-time champion U.S. Coast Guard Ensign Ryan Hixson, who automatically competes in this year’s national championship and who “is the guy to beat,” Sergeant Bronson said.
The Dallas games are in September and the national championship is in November; the championships will be tape delayed and shown on ESPN and ESPN2 during the Christmas season.
Sergeant Bronson hopes you will see him then.