The addition of six years plus the subtraction of weight didn't seem like the ideal scenario for Mike Gauthier to return to the competitive field of long drive golf competitions.
Gauthier, who qualified for and competed in the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship in both 2005 and 2006, was starting to get the itch again, however. What the Salem native discovered was that age and a smaller waistline don't necessarily translate into less distance off the tee.
After six years away from the competition, Gauthier will be returning to Mesquite, Nevada for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship in a couple weeks.
Gauthier tested out his distance, then advanced through local and district qualifying.
"I got my numbers tested prior (to the competition) at the simulator and if it was good, then I'd give it a run. It was surprising they tested higher than when I was training two hours a night in my younger days," Gauthier said. "I thought, 'This is crazy. I'd definitely doing it.' I went out and ripped it and took it down."
Testing out his distance was confirmation for Gauthier to give it another shot, but it takes more than just distance. Long drive competitions require distance and the ball also must land within a grid. If the ball rolls outside the grid, it's out of bounds and doesn't qualify.
The 30-year-old Gauthier, who starred in both baseball and golf at Salem High before going on to play baseball at Boston College, feels age has brought maturity. Just like in a typical round of golf, the battle in long drive competitions is equal parts mental and physical.
Gauthier's maturity, he feels, has helped him take the right frame of mind into his qualifying events.
His first swing in the local qualifier in Portland, Maine produced a 367-yard drive.