There’s Long and Then There’s Longest

Jay Golden (Photo courtesy Jay Golden)

Like vs. need.

Virtually all golfers would like to hit longer shots. However, many seniors feel they absolutely need to hit longer shots. Distance is everything. With that in mind, I will attempt to point out the power fundamentals of golf’s longest hitters.

When I refer to these longest hitters, you might think I’m talking about Bubba Watson, Jason Day or perhaps Tiger Woods in his prime.

I’m not.

Furthermore, when I discuss tee height, grip, backswing, swing plane, impact, ball flight, swing thoughts and other elements of the swing, you might take issue with what I am suggesting. You could be right. The PGA Tour’s longest hitters do not necessarily adhere to all these fundamentals.

But if you need to hit the ball longer, please consider what I have to say.

Tour players are not golf’s longest hitters. Not even close. The longest drivers are participants in the World Long Drive Championship.

For those who think the longest Tour players hit it as far as the Long Drive competitors, think again. This comparison reminds me of a golf outing in which Bubba Watson and a former World Long Drive champion hit several drives on the same hole. Bubba was outdriven by 60 to 80 yards, but let’s repeat the reality of the situation. Bubba is a legitimate golfer who so far has won two major championships, while all long drivers are sluggers who go to work with one club — a 48-inch driver.

To further illustrate this point, let’s look at some measured driver clubhead speeds:

Tony Finau…. 124 MPH
Sergio Garcia… 123 MPH
Dustin Johnson… 122 MPH
Bubba Watson… 121 MPH

Now some clubhead speeds of World Long Drive champions:

Joe Miller… 151 MPH (winning drive 423 yards)
Tim Burke… 150MPH
Jeff Flagg… 143 MPH
Jamie Sadlowski… 148 MPH

Like I said: Not even close.

There can be a disadvantage to being a long hitter. Let’s assume one golfer hits a drive 220 yards to the right center of the fairway. A big hitter might pound his drive on the same line but 150 yards farther. The longer drive ends up in the rough. Or worse.

This points to the reason that Tour players don’t adopt these long drive fundamentals. They already hit the ball long enough to score well, and they don’t want to miss any more fairways.

Most senior amateurs, however, need more distance. At the same time, they often play courses without severe rough. In a quest for more distance, they normally can afford to hit the ball offline.

If you feel you need to hit the ball longer, follow this series and its emphasis on the fundamentals of golf’s longest hitters.

NEXT WEEK: Start Strong to Hit Long

– Jay Golden, PGA         

Jay Golden teaches at Winter Pines Golf Club in Winter Park, FL