Why use superfluous words to describe the colossal task awaiting Ronnie Clark in Sydney, Australia, today when the picture says it all.

There's a beaming Clark, all 1.75m of him, with Baden Waiwai and Mark Bylsma flanking him like girthy kauri.

"When you're taller you can get a better leverage on the ball but, hopefully, I can get into them, mate," says the 31-year-old from Haumoana before he joins the New Zealand team to take on Australia in the first international long drive golf Transtasman Challenge at Stonecutters Ridge Golf Club.

Clark emphasises technique can also come into play so size isn't everything but it helps.


"You can still generate quite a lot of speed with a smaller height," says the senior assistant PGA professional at the Cape Kidnappers Golf Club for the past six months.

Clark will whip out his trusty driver, the Callaway XR16 LD (long drive) five-degree head hinged on a House of Forged LD shaft, to smash the Volvik balls to claim the bragging rights from the Aussies.

The Transtasman challenge is the evolving project of American event director Olna Ford who started a North and South Island competition this year in Tauranga and Christchurch in winter with the help of Phillis Meti, of Auckland.

Meti smashed a women's world record in Denver in July with a 371m monster although the pink ball took a generous kick, possibly off a sprinkler head, but was deemed to be a legal drive.

For Clark, it's his maiden long-drive challenge with the Kiwis who call themselves the Long Blacks.

The other Long Blacks are Alan Stroud (Takapuna GC, Auckland), Alex Lunn (Morrinsville GC, Waikato), Chase Mckeown (Akarana GC, Auckland), captain Dan Crook (Omanu GC, Mt Maunganui), Gareth Campbell (Takapuna GC, Auckland), Iain Dick (St Andrew's GC, Hamilton), Kris Gundersen (Whakatane GC), Mike Schofield (Pupuke GC, Auckland), Paul West (Pupuke GC), Sam Jones (Manaia, Taranaki), Shaun Rolston (Ferrymead GC, Christchurch), Shiv Sabherwal (Windross Farm GC, Auckland) and Adam Taylor (Auckland).

"I just turned up for a little bit of fun, really, and I came sixth out of about 40 people," he says, smashing one out of eight balls 277m into a stiff wind that day.

"It was really bad. The wind blew the marquees over," says Clark whose personal best is 340m.


He accepts it goes against the grain of what he teaches his proteges but believes everyone is entitled to an adrenalin fix in life every now and then.

"It's really good so it's really starting to take off now."

Early this month there was a tourney staged on a Saturday against an overseas field at Remuera Golf Club in Auckland where two spots were up for grabs to carry on into the Sunday but he agonisingly finished third.

"I love it. It's just great to be part of a team as well."

Waiwai, of Wairoa, a former Bay senior men's representative who is now in the Australian equation, was once fifth in the Remax competition in the world.

So what chance do the Long Blacks have against the Ockers?

"I think we have a good chance. We've got some really good hitters in the team," says Clark.

The format for the challenge is 6 x 2-ball matches in the afternoon. Then 12 x singles match in the early evening. The longest drive of the day will encompass the challenge.

The challenge is another step in the plan for more long-drive events around the Pacific Rim, especially after the Long Drive Invitational beckoned 12 nations.

Lunn, Dick and Mckeown all took part in the recent International Long Drive Invitational in Auckland with good results.

Jones won the national championship earlier this year and is on a scholarship at the University of West Georgia in the United States. He represented New Zealand at the long-drive worlds in Oklahoma in September.

A former Hastings Golf Club professional, Clark arrived in the Bay from Brighton, England, 18 months ago with Hastings partner Shannon Price.

"You have some great golfers so it's pretty hard to get in there [England]," he says.

He was 10 when his grandfather, Derrick Rowland, introduced him to golf and he fell in love with it.

The Long Blacks have secured the backing of Gevir — Renewed by Nature as their foundation sponsors and IGANZ (International Golf Associates New Zealand) also is behind them.

Gevir produces a health supplement which will assist the Long Blacks to recuperate from the rigours of their sport. It is a sustainable New Zealand product and has produced its diverse natural supplements, since 1990. The family-owned business has continued to strive for the highest quality natural deer velvet.

"We believe the sport of Long Drive has a huge future in New Zealand and with Gevir we see the NZ team consistently delivering top results. This is a significant partnership that we believe will support the growth of NZLG and Gevir into the future," says Gevir chief executive Josh Buckman.