A Senior Compliance Engineer at Titleist Ball Plant III in New Bedford, Mass., by day, Eric Lastowka can now add "One of the World's Longest Drivers" to his title. Competing for the first time in the Senior Division of the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship in Mesquite, Nev., the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Lastowka outdrove the field of 63 players with his 355-yard drive and hoisted the trophy high. Really high.
“This is the ultimate,” said Lastowka following his victory. “I’ve had a lot of close calls in the Open Division in the past (runner-up in 2006, 8th place in 2001), but this is why I continue in this sport. There are so many good hitters that it always takes your best to win. Now that I have won, it gives me even more motivation to repeat next year.”
The week-long event started with 64 Senior Division participants, which was reduced to 16 on the first day. Lastowka advanced after winning his first three rounds with tape measure drives of 379, 360 and 391 yards, respectively. The weather in Mesquite is always a factor, and Lastowka took advantage, winning his next two matches with downwind blasts of 426 and 403 yards.
The wind turned on the final day, however, and was dead in the face of the participants. Lastowka won his first match with a 333-yard drive, setting up his winning 355-yarder that was not without drama. His opponent had the final drive, which hit the grid and rolled to 349 yards while Lastowka and the boisterous crowd held their collective breath.
The secret to Lastowka's success?
“My success this year is based on being in good physical shape,” said Lastowka. “I have spent a considerable amount of time over the years participating in the Acushnet Wellness program, and it does pay off. I have focused on the cross-fit style workouts with the fitness coaches that the company provides its associates. It is very challenging, but rewarding.”
Lastowka also attended the first level of the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certification program this year, where he absorbed a wealth of information about the golf swing and fitness.
The event will be packaged into a 90-minute highlights feature and aired on the ESPN networks on Dec. 23 and 30.