Photo courtesy of Long Drivers of America Carl Wolter of Lehighton celebrates after unleashing a huge drive at theRE/MAX World Long Drive Championship Powered by Dick's Sporting Goods. Wolter won the competition.
Carl Wolter knew what had to be done.
Wolter approached the teed up golf ball and addressed it, intensifying his focus for one perfect swing. The result was a 409-yard drive that outdistanced his opponent Ben Tuaone in the finals of the 2011 RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship Powered By Dick's Sporting Goods.
With that swing, the 35-year old Wolter matched his 2002 performance to regain his place atop the power golf world.
"I was a little surprised," Wolter admitted. "To be honest, it's been something that has been on my mind for the past nine years because I didn't want to be a one-hit wonder."
Throughout the course of those past nine years, the multi-sport talent has been working on building his family, as he and wife Shannon have a 7-year old daughter, Mady, and live in the Lehighton area.
During that time, Wolter hasn't totally disappeared from the "Long Drive" world, maintaining a top 10 ranking most of those years. But regaining the title was something he wanted to refocus on consider it done.
With this title came plenty of emotion.
Wolter's swing coach and training partner, Ben Witter, was able to make it to see Carl accomplish the feat, something many might take for granted. Witter is a PGA Professional and has travelled all over, putting his talent on display with trick shots and mastery of the swing. Diagnosed with cancer in 1988, the 48-year old Witter was recently informed of a tumor in his brain. Despite increasing struggles caused by the tumor, Witter was able to be at the championships, providing Wolter with plenty of motivation and inspiration.
"(Ben) being there was just the complete inspiration to me and it meant the world to me that he made it," Wolter said. "It really helped to block everything else out of my mind and thinking about Ben, I just wanted to hit the ball as far as humanly possible."
Throughout the course of the week, the Open Division was whittled down from a field of 128 hitters. With just eight remaining in contention, the competition turned to head-to-head match play.
In the quarterfinals, Wolter was paired up against Jamie Sadlowski, a two-time champ (2008, 2009) from Canada. Wolter's 446-yard drive narrowly beat Sadlowski's 443-yard blast, moving him into the semifinals. Awaiting the Lehighton and Penn State alum in that round was the 2010 champion, Joe Miller out of England. With the assistance of a moody tailwind, Carl launched a 459-yard bomb that proved to be too much for Miller's 452-yard drive.
Something interesting then occurred as Wolter trudged ahead into his finals match-up with Tuaone out of Rose Park, Utah. The tailwind shifted and morphed into a crosswind, limiting the distances that the golfers attained in the previous rounds.
"My first attempt, I wanted to kill it and I ended up missing the grid," Wolter reminisces. "The 409 came on the second swing and I took just a safe, smooth swing because I wanted to get it out there. Then, my third try, I went after it and I think I had maybe a 401. Ben's best drive in the finals was 388 yards, so I won the championship."
With the win, Wolter walked away with $150,000 and the pride that goes along with any kind of world championship.
"It feels great. I really wanted to do this and knew that if I did, I wanted to dedicate it to Ben (Witter) and my parents, Kathi and Carl," Wolter stated.
Art Sellinger, the president and owner of Long Drivers of America, paid Wolter a huge tribute following his victory.
"In the history of the long drive competition, the grittiest competitors that I've ever seen are Jason Zuback (five-time RE/MAX World Champion), Sean "The Beast" Fister (three-time RE/MAX World Champion), and Carl Wolter," said Sellinger.
"That's probably the biggest compliment I've ever gotten and I feel honored that he said it," Wolter said.
With the win, Wolter moves to the top of the all-time Long Drivers of America money list. In addition to this year's title, Wolter finished first in 2002; second in 2004; and from 2007 to 2009, he came in in between fifth and eighth place. This year, he also had second place finishes in LDA events in Pittsburgh in August and Denver in mid-September.
"There are typically one or two events per month," Wolter said. "I competed in May in Dallas, where I finished in ninth, but then after that, I concentrated on motocross for the summer."
As if being excellent in the long drives wasn't enough, Wolter also excelled at Penn State University in the javelin and is a national motocross rider.
As a matter of fact, he took fifth in a Tennessee event in early August and qualified for the Amateur National Championships at Loretta Lynn's Dude Ranch. He is currently ranked in the top 40 nationally in the over 30 division.
But Wolter's college javelin success and his motorcross achievements have to take a backseat to his Long Drive World Championship. He was quick to thank plenty of support system members throughout the years that made attaining his second championship possible.
Wolter mentioned his wife Shannon, daughter Mady, and mother and father Kathi and Carl Sr., Wolter.
"There has been a lot of support from family and friends," he said. "There are a lot of guys at Blue Ridge Country Club in Palmerton, Platz's Restaurant, and Krank Golf, which is my main golf sponsor. I also want to say thank you to Chris Rodrigues, who helps me with my swing and keeping it on track; Trevor Borger and Craig Brophy, my training partners that I work out with; and Dan Steigerwalt of Steigerwalt Chiropractic."
Next on the list of things to do, Wolter plans on doing some shows as a showcase for his extreme talent in the sport of golf.
Wolter's performance in the 2011 RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship will be shown on ESPN on Dec. 24 at 1 p.m. and on Dec. 25 on ESPN2 at 12:30 p.m.