Long Drive champ Sellinger, two others to enter hall of fame

The adage in golf is "Drive for show and putt for dough." For Art Sellinger, it was "Drive for dough and leave the putter home."

The former Chaparral High School and UNLV golfer made his mark in the sport with his prowess off the tee. The two-time U.S. Long Drive champion will be honored at 6 p.m. today with induction into the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame at TPC Summerlin along with PGA Tour veteran Craig Barlow and local women's amateur champion Laurie Johnson.

"It's like coming full circle," said Sellinger, 46. "I started out in junior golf in Las Vegas, played high school and college golf (in Las Vegas) and, after my pro career, am being inducted into the Hall of Fame. It's very meaningful."

Sellinger, the owner and CEO of Long Drivers of America in Southlake, Texas, was one of the pioneers of the Long Drive competition. In his prime in the early 1990s, and aided by the use of high-tech equipment, Sellinger drove the ball 350 to 360 yards.

Today, Long Drive competitors are hitting it 425 yards, and sometimes beyond.

"I had a nice run," said Sellinger, who started playing in Long Drive events in 1983 and retired from active competition in 2003. "I'm thrilled with how the event has grown and how fortunate I was to be part of that growth.

"I always thought it was the most exciting part of golf. The average player can relate to it. I think most golfers love to bomb it off the tee."

Johnson, a local CPA, took up the sport at age 22. She quickly developed into a quality player and has won numerous local and state tournaments. Her most recent accomplishment came Oct. 26 when she captured her first Nevada State Women's Amateur title, at Silverstone Golf Club. Johnson, 52, also won the State Senior Women's title.

"At the time I started playing, it seemed boring," Johnson said. "But it was always challenging, and that's what I've always loved about golf. It constantly challenges you."

Johnson is the second woman to be inducted into the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame, joining 2004 inductee Helen Cannon.

"It's something I never thought would happen," Johnson said. "It's an incredible honor."

Barlow, a Basic graduate, has earned more than $5 million since turning pro in 1995.

"There's a rich tradition of golf in Las Vegas, and for me to be even a small part of it is very humbling," Barlow, 39, said in June when the 2011 class was announced.

Tickets remain for tonight's event. For more information, call 497-3003.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.