Allen wows at Johnnie Walker Golf Classic
"Wow! I've never seen anything like that!" "Rockstone!"
These were some of the responses (and others not to be mentioned) Maurice Allen's long drives evoked as ball after ball disappeared in the distance at the Tryall Golf Club. The occasion was the recent Johnnie Walker Learning for Life Golf Classic.
The charity tournament was aimed at raising funds for Learning for Life - a skills-based education programme run by Red Stripe and parent company Diageo.
Allen, who was the tournament's special guest, is the world record holder in driver ball speed at 211 mph and has one of the longest recorded distances of 453 yards. With a distance of 487 yards between the eighth and ninth holes, Allen's talent was on full display at the tournament as he wowed the golfers as they passed by the eighth hole where he was stationed. Each golfer had the option of using Allen to make a long drive shot for them, giving them a much better chance of making a birdie on the ninth hole. Long drives were sold for US$50 with the funds going towards Learning for Life. Allen raised almost $200,000 and said the importance of giving back should never be understated.
"I think charity is extremely important for many reasons. The first is that it gives people a second chance at life because there are very few second-chance opportunities in the world," said Allen. "Second, it gives people hope, and hope is one of the most important things on this earth. Once a person has hope they can see themselves having a positive future. Lastly, it's Jamaicans looking out for the future of Jamaica. By securing the future jobs and careers of the youth, you are investing back into people, and that's the only way to have change."
Giving back is something personally dear to Allen. He works with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, mentoring minority youth and advising them on the characteristics that will be needed for them to succeed in life.
Allen grew up in Pine Hills, an Orlando suburb whose hardship he said moulded him into the man he is today.
"I believe that growing there has helped build me into being the person I am today. In that area there were not many opportunities for people to grow and move forward in life. This is no different than what you see with the students in the Learning for Life programme. Their background is not of a silver-spoon situation but they have been given a second chance to change their future in a positive way through the programme," Allen shared.
Perhaps the only greater satisfaction than giving back for Allen is wowing golfers and non-golfers alike with his long drives. His strength and accuracy were so awe-inspiring some of Jamaica's top corporate moguls didn't hesitate to peel out their wallets in the name of charity — and a chance to improve their overall score.
As a professional long-drive competitor, Allen has been all over the world competing, but said the Johnnie Walker Learning for Life Golf Classic is one of the best tournaments he has ever been a part of.
"It was an honour and the highlight of my year to be involved in this amazing experience," he said. "The tournament was great, an amazing course on a beautiful day with remarkable players — all to be capped off with best awards reception that I have seen anywhere in the world."