Among golfers there is an old adage that says that golfers should “Drive for show, putt for dough.” Golfers have done their best to live up to that, too.
Golfers try to drive the ball as hard and as far as they can down the fairway to get as close to the putting green as they can. The longer the ball off of the tee, the more lofted club a golfer will need when making his approach shot to the green. Think about your game…would you rather be hitting a wedge into the green or a 5 iron? Which do you feel more comfortable with?
Over the years it has become something of a competition to see who can hit the ball the farthest. Some go for the straightest shot they can make; others prefer to play a draw to add overspin to the ball and add some distance. Occasionally on tour you will see a player hook their tee shot intentionally to escape trees or other obstacles in their way. The hook will add a tremendous amount of distance if the ball lands on the fairway. Other golfers on tour play the power fade which cuts a bit of the distance off of the tee shot, but for most of the guys on tour, that small loss of distance isn’t a big deal. The type of shot each player uses is pretty much a matter of style.
Still others simply have such a smooth, strong swing that they can’t help but have very long drives. The average drive was once about 270 yards, but that is becoming an old hallmark. A little background will help explain why.
The best weather condition for long drives is hot dry weather when the ball can get a lot of lift, so most long drives will happen in the hot summer months. During the cooler months, the damper weather tends to shorten the hang time of the golf ball. Warm weather isn’t just nicer weather; it also helps the game.
Many of today’s professionals golfers are in much better physical condition than their predecessors. They tend to drive the ball pretty far, so that is actually creating longer average shots of about 315 yards. Also, as golf clubs and golf ball technology improves, the trajectory of the golf ball also improves and distance will increase significantly.
Here is a short list of longest drives in PGA Events:
3. Bubba Watson is considered to be the most consistent long driver at an average of 313 yards per drive in the PGA.
2. The longest modern drive was by Davis Love III for 476 yards at the 2004 Mercedes Championships. The Mercedes is played in January every year and is the kickoff event for the PGA played on the Plantation course at Kapalua in Maui. Love hit his monster drive on the 18th hole, a dogleg left, down hill, down wind on the 663 yard Par 5. Stuart Appleby won the tournament in 2004, so I guess that goes to show, a long drive doesn’t mean everything.
1. The longest PGA tour drive, going back to the 70s, was by Mike Austin who was 64 at the time. He drove the ball 515 yards. Mike hit the shot at Winterwood Golf Course in Las Vegas, and the amazing thing for those golfers who have played a while…..he did it with a Balata ball!
Many of today’s young golfers are training more in the gym and using scientific technology to improve the power in their drives, so eventually even these stellar records will fall. For now, Mike Austin is still the man to beat on tour. We would like to see some of the big hitters play the long par 5 at Kapalua with the wind at their back. Who knows how far Tiger or Rory could hit it under the perfect conditions.