Calem Filipek from Menlo Park has had a couple of whirlwind days. The 15-year-old started his sophomore year on Bellarmine Monday just two days after finishing second in the National Amateur Long Drive Championships at the Barefoot Resort & Golf in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“Very, very funny,” said Filipek.
Filipek was one of eight candidates in the Junior Boys Division. All eight participants competed in the opening round, which consisted of three rounds – consisting of two minutes in which the rackets had to hit six balls. The ball furthest from each round is counted and the first four advance to the semi-finals.
Filipek thought he was shoo-in for the semifinals after pulling out a 308 yard drive on his first round. But his second and third rounds weren’t that good. In fact, he didn’t have a single target on the driver line-up on his final lap.
Although he had already secured a spot in the semifinals, he was concerned that the time between the first round and the semifinals was less than five minutes and he didn’t have time to understand his mechanics.
“My swing was everywhere,” said Filipek.
Every adjustment he made worked, because after only one semi-final round, the first two – Filipek and Kauner Kay – reached the final.
In the finals, both hitters were teed up and hitting at the same time. Filipek’s best was 298, which he hit on his third ball. Kay took the title with a long 308 run.
“The wind was super crazy at that time of day,” Filipek said. “The conditions were very different from here. It was super windy. Slightly uphill. “
What Filipek didn’t know was that Kay was struggling. He was told that Kay hit his first four balls out of bounds, so there are only two left to score.
When Filipek heard a great cheer, he knew that Kay had uncorked something big.
What began as a lark has grown into a new passion for baseball player Filipek. His family happened to be in Davis one day when they discovered that an ALD competition was going on. Both Calem and his father Eric signed up and participated, with the younger Filipek winning.
He won his second outing with a drive of 400 yards and last weekend he took part in the national championships.
“It kind of started from then on,” said Filipek.
Now Filipek is really getting into the sport. He purchased a long-drive-specific club from Shark Attack Golf – owned by the Kay family.
“Shark Attack Golf – everyone uses it. It’s pretty much the main source for long riders, ”said Filipek. “It’s a triple (three times stiffer) shaft and the head is super heavy.”
Despite the new tool, he didn’t have time to actually dial it in on the driving range, so he stuck with his father’s TaylorMade Sim 2 driver off the shelf.
“The guys were very impressed because I was still using the stock driver,” said Filipek.
In addition to the new equipment, Filipek said he has started doing more long-drive-specific training and plans to continue participating in long-drive competitions.
“The week before (the national championships) we were on the driving range in Foster City. For three days we worked on 100 balls with the driver. I’ve been working on little things, ”said Filipek. “I have reached my swing speed over 130 mph. That was an achievement. I’m just trying to improve all the little things.
“I will definitely add it to my list of skills.”
From the long drive arena to the traditional golf course, we find Crystal Springs newbie Edan Cui, who has won two tournaments in the past few weeks.
Last week, Cui shot a total of 13-unders in three rounds for a 203 to win the UHY New York Junior Championship, his first tournament title in the American Junior Golf Association. He opened with a 6-under 66 in the opening round, using three birdies in a row on numbers 6, 7 and 8, three birdies in a row.
Last month, Cui won the 14-year bracket title at the US Kid’s Golf Foundation World Teen Championships at No. Pinehurst. 7 in North Carolina with a final score of 13 under and a total score of 207.
He got off to a shaky start, shooting a 2-under 70 on the first day but coming back on the second day with a 5-under 67 and closing on a 6-under 66 to take the title – ending up with an eagle on that last hole.