Long Drive

long drivers

Long drive is a competitive sport where success is derived by hitting a golf ball the farthest by driving. A small but dedicated talent base of golfers populate the world of Long-Drive, with the top talent competing professionally in various events and exhibitions. Professional long drivers can average over 350 yards in competition, compared with 300 yard averages from the top PGA Tour drivers and 200 yards for an average amateur.

Some shots in competitions surpass 400 yards. The world record recognized by Guinness Records as the longest drive in a competition is 515 yards by 64 year old Mike Austin in 2002 at the US National Open Qualifier with a 43.5″ steel shafted persimmon wood driver. The current all-time record holder is Mike Dobbyn with 551 yards.

Fast swingers can swing their club heads at over 150 mph, well beyond the 85 mph average for an amateur. They train for strength, flexibility, and speed. They often perform corporate exhibitions for money, exhibiting a variety of trick shots. Ball speeds are nearly double that of an average golfer (220mph). Long drive clubs, which are always drivers, are different in many ways from consumer clubs. Until the recent club length limitation rules, the shafts were much longer than a normal 45 in shaft, sometimes exceeding 55 in. In 2005, 50 in limitation was introduced.

Long drive shafts are also stiffer than standard shafts; normal shafts lag in an inconsistent manner, causing a loss of control. The kick point or bend point is also higher for a lower trajectory relative to the swing, and the shaft has a lower torque, meaning that it will not twist as much, allowing the clubhead to stay straighter. Clubheads usually approach the 460 cubic centimeter limit, rarely below 400 cc. They must stay within the Coefficient Of Restitution (COR) limit of 0.83, which measures how a ball hits off the surface. Most clubheads only approach the COR in the center of the club, so technology has allowed more area of the club to possess a COR of above 0.80. Thus, mishits are less affected by the newer clubheads.

The loft of a long drive club is also much lower than a consumer club, sometimes around 4 or 5 degrees, as opposed to 10.5 degrees for an amateur’s driver. That is because long drivers place their balls on high tees toward the follow-through of the swing as to hit the ball on the upswing for a higher angle. A lower loft hitting the same trajectory reduces excess backspin and can bounce and roll more upon landing, which can account for considerable distance. In all Long Drivers of America (LDA) sanctioned competitions, competitors must hit the same type of ball, the Slazenger Raw Distance. The characteristic of this ball is raw distance with minimal spin, which helps the bounce and roll. It is optimized for long driving and is less sensitive to play with on a regular course, albeit possible.

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