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Long drive champ got off to early start

A news report when she was a teen sparked Irene Crowchild’s interest in long drive competitions.

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She’s come a long way since that day.

Crowchild of Tsuut’ina Nation, Alberta, was the women’s champion of the Canadian Long Drive Championships, which took place at Stark’s Golf Course in Port Rowan over the Labour Day long weekend.

Crowchild cited Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk as her inspiration for getting into long drive competitions when she was 16.

“I saw it on the news and that’s where the dream started.”

Crowchild overcame many obstacles to get to where she is today.

The now 29-year-old battled with addictions and had to put her dream of competing on hold for five years.

“When I found sobriety, that’s when I told myself I’d give it an honest go with this golf,” she said. “Golf has always been a passion. That golf passion turned into a long drive passion.”

Between 10,000 and 20,000 drives was Crowchild’s best estimate of how many balls she hit before heading to the Canadian championship.

In 2018 Crowchild became the first Indigenous woman to participate and win the Canadian Long Drive Championships.

The participants in the women’s division this year included Crowchild, Cory Ann Pond, Debbie Peever, Deanna Walton, Kelly Rudney, and Allison Stark.

Crowchild won with a 286-yard drive, beating out Rudney’s 285 by inches.

The longest drive of the day belonged to Rudney, measuring in at 307 yards.

Pond, who finished in third, was excited to return as the 2019 defending champion.

“It is exciting, especially since I just moved home to work at the Greens at Renton this year,” she said. “It’s lots of fun, I thought I was going to be more nervous, but everyone has been so cool and chill.”

Walton, a member of Stark’s for 26 years, said she participates in the competition to support the course.

“It’s good competition for sure,” said Walton. “I play in the ladies league, and once in awhile I hit the driving range.”

Other divisions of the competition included open, masters, and amateur.

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