MESQUITE, NV --- The world is complete with folks who have a diverse set of views on just about anything. To some, the glass is half full, while others believe it’s half empty.
Jared Brentz is generally an optimist. But after his final round at “The Grid” here at the ParaLong Drive World Championships the 26-year-old Murfreesboro (near Nashville) resident had the look generally associated with defeat.
“I just felt I hadn’t done it, I didn’t think I’d hit the ball where I wanted to hit it,” said the highly competitive and internally motivated Brentz, who last May cranked a paralong drive world record 409 yards in winning a third national title and regularly bombs 350-yarders. “I know I didn’t hit it as far as earlier in the day, I wasn’t sure I’d hit the winner.”
A small smile appeared shortly after when it was announced his drive of 340 yards was good enough to win the world championship over a field which included nearly 50 inspiring competitors.
Brentz clipped runner-up Tim Herrmann of Minnesota by six yards in the world finals.
In long drive competition, players get less than three minutes to hit six drives that must come to rest on the grid to be counted. Competitors are hitting two or three to a group in the same timeframe, so one doesn’t really watch what others are doing.
“But, we can hear others, we can here the crowd when someone cranks one,” commented Anthony Netto, the paramobile 2-arm champion who claimed his division with a 289-yard blast. “You have a sense of what’s happening while you are hitting.”
In a sport where each of the competitors has a severe physical condition, Brentz has never been one who says “why me” or simply “why”, choosing instead to say why not. He’s faced more challenges than can be imagined, and while not always successful he knows deep down he tried his best.
Born with a condition known as arthrogryposis and club feet, he lived with that condition - and three surgeries along the way - until just after his 12th birthday. Then came the enormous decision: continue the pain and struggles of the disease with the alternative of amputation of both legs below the knees.
Wise and confident beyond his years when his parents and doctors described the alternatives, Brentz selection Option B and began a new life that, after extensive rehabilitation resulted in his playing for the high school varsity wresting and golf teams.
“There’s just something about me, when someone says I can’t do something, I turn it around and tell them to watch me. I love a challenge,” said the world champion paralong driver. “Today, well, this is really something.”
It was something as the assembled fans and media – The Golf Channel had a team to chronicle the event – can attest. Competitor after competitor entered the grid a smoked drives that would embarrass most of us. These guys and gals are long, uber long, ultra long.
And to a person they not only have a competitive spirit but are generally at rest with their physical challenge.
Champions were crowned in 20 divisions, and overall champion Brentz found himself interviewed in prime time on The Golf Channel.
“That’s kinda cool, but the big story here isn’t me it’s all the competitors,” said the champion, who also won his division (two leg amputated below knees) with a 360-yard poke.
True, but he can’t deny his performance was not only stellar but inspiring.
“This trophy obviously means a lot to me, it’s a great accomplishment and I am proud to have it in my possession. Yet I know the real winners are all the competitors. They are all special in what they do.”
Assembled and competing were wounded warriors, victims of accidents of all kinds, from both sexes and ages. There was a blind division, a paramobile grouping and long drivers who blasted 300-yard pops with one arm by itself or with the aid of a second arm device.
Courage was the key word of the event, as each and every competitor displayed the guts that spring boarded a sense of optimism. Being there and competing made everyone a winner, clearly, but the bottom line was that these guys and girls are really good too.
Not a lot of woe is me in the group. Rather, as Brentz said, a sense of we can do this. We can accomplish goals.
Watching the ParaLong Drive Worlds wasn’t just watching a golf event. It was an inspirational story about dedication, desire and courage.
ParaLong Drive Blasts: Three-year-old Tommy Morrissey started the final day activities at the Mesquite Sports and Entertainment Complex with a ceremonial first drive. The one-arm youngster recently appeared on the “Ellen” television show and is quite a character…Bryce Brantz, Jared's twin brother, plays professional baseball including 9 games this year with the Boston Red Sox...Josh Williams won the one-leg below knee division with a 322-yard blast…The Casablanca and Eureka Resorts were among the stellar Mesquite businesses hosting the event…Ten countries were represented at the championships.