Jesse Thomas has always enjoyed his golf, but it’s an offshoot of the sport that he has really excelled at.
The 32-year-old is thriving in long drive, which sees players step up to the tee and swing the club as hard as they can in an attempt to record the longest shot.
There’s no chipping, putting or bunker shots. The longest drive, that falls inside the designated area, wins.
While he’s no star golfer in the traditional form – playing off a handicap of seven before giving the game away – long drive has allowed Thomas to represent his country.
Thomas has been picked for the Australan team that will take on New Zealand at an event in Sydney on Friday.
“There’ll be a bit of banter, it’s a bit of fun, there’s DJs, grand stands and everyone is having a few beers. It’s not like your quite golf tee…,” Thomas told The Courier.
“It’s my type of sport, I suppose you could say.”
Friday’s competition will be held at Stonecutters Ridge Golf Club, with pairs and singles events part of the overall Trans-Tasman challenge.
“There’s 12 from Australia and 12 from New Zealand and in the morning we will play pairs. Two blokes will hit eight balls and the two biggest shots – one from each (player) – they add them together and get a combined total.
“Everyone will do that in the morning and then in the afternoon it’s 12 singles (matches), which is one on one with the New Zealand guys.
“In a set you get eight balls in three minutes, each of you. It’s best of three sets.”
The Miners Rest local won his place in the “Aussie Long Ballers” squad after a qualifying event in Queensland.
And Thomas admitted his selection came as a surprise, with part of his motivation for the trip interstate to learn more about the sport.
“I never expected to make it at all,” he said.
“My mates said ‘what have you got to lose? Just fly to Queensland and see what happens’.
“And I wanted to learn more, too. The guys up there are really knowledgeable and there’s not really a great deal of knowledge locally with long drive.
“Hopefully now I’ll go a bit further with it and try and get a bit better at it.”
Thomas said he had played golf from a young age, but had then taken up lawn bowls for the team environment it offered.
Despite not playing regular golf, he continued to hit balls at the range, which eventually saw him try his hand at long drive.
“For people that are a bit time poor, it’s really good,” Thomas, who recalls a 372m bomb at Trentham Golf Club as his best drive, said.
“It’s like the Twenty20 of golf, I suppose you could say.”