Blythewood’s William Hinson qualifies for national long-drive championship

William Hinson’s summer job is one to envy. His skills are, too.

A rising senior at Blythewood High, he has spent time honing his ability to drive golf balls prodigious distances. Among other things, he has:

Qualified for the national long-drive championship;

• Climbed to No. 66 in the world long-driving standings, a significant position since rankings are based on performances over two years and he has competed one year;

• Spent time at the Callaway Performance Center in California to get his clubs fitted for maximum production;

• Headed to North Carolina to work with his coach, Bobby Peterson.

• Conducted interviews for a Golf Channel special on long-drive competition;

• And, in his spare time, conducted charity events.

“A lot going on,” Hinson, a member of Callaway Golf’s X Hot Long Drive team, said and laughed. “It’s been crazy sometime, but it’s been an awesome experience.”

“Awesome” pretty much describes his ability with a driver in his hands. At age 17, he became the youngest player to qualify for the world championship last year, and he wasted no time in securing his place among the 192 who will compete for the title in Nevada this October.

Hinson earned his position in the nationals with a ninth-place finish against a world-class field in the East Coast Long Drive Classic near Orlando, then capped his Florida excursion with a second in the Funco Long Drive Challenge.

The accomplishments came before his visit to California to maximize his driver.

“That trip to the Callaway Performance Center was one of the best things I’ve done,” he said. “We took a tour of the facility and hit on the range there, and you realize how special it is since only (Callaway’s PGA Tour pros) get to work there.

“They dialed in the clubs and I can’t wait to hit them in competition. (The technicians) worked on the shaft, weights, settings and such. I was hitting the ball better than ever.”

He finds out how well the new clubs react in competition next week in the Dixie Classic in Georgia.

“I’m working harder this summer than I did all last year,” he said.

And about that crazy schedule: William and his dad, Edward, returned from the Florida tournaments, got a couple of hours sleep and headed to Raleigh for the flight to California. After their return, he hit the road again to the Fayetteville area to work with his coach, Peterson.

“He was at my first event last year and we just clicked,” Hinson said. “I go up there or he comes down here. He’s got a one-stop power shop; he builds clubs and everything. We’ve worked well together. Every yard (gained) matters so much, and he seems to get the best out of me. He’s taught me some things that amaze me. Every secret is so important.”

Hinson’s goal: advance to the top 25 by the end of the year and into the top 10 a year from now. The key will be his performance in the world championships.

“One step at a time,” he said. “The higher you go, the tougher the competition, but it’s been a great experience. I know I will be one of 192 players in world championships, and the top eight advance to the finals, which will be held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Making the finals) would be awesome.”

When school begins and a teacher asks how students spent their summer, Hinson’s experiences will, like his drives, be hard to beat.