Rhythm and timing: Young golfer overcomes wind, field to win long drive competition

Kauner Kay, who won the open and amateur titles at the Utah State Long Drive competition Saturday at Coral Canyon Golf Course, prepares to drive the golf ball, Washington, Utah, June 8, 2024 | Photo courtesy of Devin Dixon, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — It takes more than a grip and rip mentality to win a long drive competition.

Just ask Kauner Kay, the 2024 Juab High School graduate who won the 20th Annual 2024 Findlay Kia Utah State Long Drive Championship at Coral Canyon Golf Course on Saturday.

“Your rhythm and timing are the key to power and accuracy,” Kay said in a text to St. George News. “I get into my zone and block out everything going on around me. Most of the time I don’t even remember hitting.”

Driving into a steady headwind, Kay bested the field to win the men’s amateur with a drive of 358 yards and the open division with a drive of 364 yards. A far cry from his competition best of 445 yards, Kay said he made a couple of adjustments to overcome the gusty conditions.

“I lower my launch angle and the degree on my driver and I let the wind do the work,” Kay said, adding that his club of choice is the Callaway Paradym long drive head at 4 degrees with the Kinetixx Velocity LD20 shaft.

Event host Devin Dixon discusses the results of the Findlay Kia Utah State Long Drive Competition at Canyon Media in St. George, Utah, June 10, 2024 | Photo by Vin Cappiello, St. George News

Competition host Devin Dixon called the 2024 version of the long drive contest a “benchmark” event.

“For our 20th year, we had a strong field again,” Dixon said. “We had at least 10 past champions in the field.”

Dixon said the winning yardages were down from past years due to the 15-20 mph winds Friday and Saturday. But the gusts served as an equalizer of sorts.

“It was pretty much the same for everybody, which made it a fair competition in the men’s open and the men’s amateur,” Dixon said, adding that “the wind was not our friend.”

Still, Dixon said the two-day event, which included a closest to the pin and long-putt contest was both competitive and fun.

We have great sponsors — a ton of local business get behind this every year,” Dixon said. “Coral Canyon is such a gracious host.”

Dixon said “we had a good turnout” and “raised lot of money” during the accompanying fundraiser scramble to benefit the Desert Hills High School girls and boys golf teams.

“So overall, we couldn’t have scripted a better weekend,” Dixon said.


(figures represent each golfer’s longest drive, measured in yards)

Men’s Open
1. Kauner Kay 364
2. Ben Tuaone 358
3. Chad Klein 344
4. Logan Leavitt 325

Men’s Amateur
1. Kauner Kay 358 (3-ball playoff)
2. Ben Tuaone 334
3. Logan Leavitt 346
4. Cobe Reck 339

Women’s Open
1. Lucy Dixon 223
2. Ke’Nia Martin 193

1. Jeff Alexander 348
2. Mark Lawrence 327
3. Devin Dixon 322
4. Lynn Ray 309

1. Mark Lawrence 342
2. Jason Kay 324
3. Lynn Ray 317
4. Tony Polu 272

1. Lynn Ray 255
2. Steve Keller 237

Girls 17U
1. London Pearson 258
2. Matti Wieland 238
3. Lucy Dixon 208

Boys 14U
1. Cooper Wieland 248

Boys 17U
1. Weston Andelin 299
2. Andrew Wilson 285
3. Cooper Wieland 250

Long putt competition
1. Jeff Alexander
2. Nate Atwood

Closest to the pin shootout
1. Cobe Reck, 12 feet
2. Nate Atwood 14 feet

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2024, all rights reserved.

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