An average professional male golfer is capable of hitting a drive using a 1 wood over 300 yards, maximizing power by driving the legs and hips and the body weight into the swing. Some of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour such as Bubba Watson, Robert Garrigus, John Daly and Dustin Johnson at very best are capable of driving a ball over 350 yards, although very rare in professional play, but regularly hit drives of over 300 yards.
The top 90 longest hitters on the tour in 2016 averaged a drive of 290 yards or over. Some of the biggest hitters on the female tour such as Michelle Wie can hit a ball as far as most of the male players, averaging around 280 yards and capable of almost 350 yards a maximum if the course is downhill. As of 2011, Watson has the longest average drive in professional golf, with an average drive of 315.2 yards, capable of generating a ball speed of 194 mph and drives of up to 370 yards.
Mike Austin holds the world record for the longest drive in professional play, driving 515 yards at the Winterwood Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1974, blasting it 65 yards past the flag on the par-4 fifth. His golf swing, known as The Mike Austin Swing, is practiced and taught by current golf professionals. Other notable swings are Ben Hogan's swing, Jim Furyk's swing and Tiger Woods' swing.
Golf driving is big business in the United States and golf driving instruction is a multimillion-dollar business with many manuals and instructors offering their expertise to maximize the drives of their consumers.
According to professionals, flexibility, technique and form are very important in a drive. A flexible player is able to generate a longer drive by having the ability to swing with a wider arc, creating more thrust. Some of the world's longest drivers who are not professional golfers but compete in Long Drive contests such as the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship, such as Jamie Sadlowski and Mike Dobbyn, are capable of regularly hitting a ball over 400 yards and over 220 mph.
Two time World Long Drive champion Sadlowski is of average height and slight of build but is able to generate lengths of up to 445 yards far beyond those of some of the more powerfully built professional golfers because of his unique flexibility and leanness of build. Motion Golf, a company that creates sophisticated 3-D swing animations of players, has deduced that in his swing he rotates his shoulder 166 degrees, but his hips move only 49 degrees; Tiger Woods averages around 85 degrees in comparison. He claims that the secret behind his usually long drive is to "Think swing fast, not hard."
However, the world record holder, Mike Dobbyn, whose longest drive is a world record 551 yards, is 6'8" and a muscular 310 pounds, implying that raw power is also very important, particularly in the left shoulder and right pectoral (for a right-handed golfer) and in the twitch muscles on the left side. Several of the past RE/MAX winners such as Sweden's Viktor Johansson have also been at least 6'5" and near 300 pounds and five time winner Jason Zuback was an amateur powerlifter.
In February 1971, astronaut Alan Shepard became the first person to golf anywhere other than Earth. He smuggled a golf club and two golf balls on board Apollo 14 with the intent to golf on the Moon. He attempted two drives. He shanked the first attempt, but it is estimated his second went more than 200 yards.
Hole in one
Given the length of par 4s, generally being over 400 yards, and beyond the maximum driving distance of virtually all players, most holes in one are achieved on par-3 holes for eagle. Given that most par 3s are relatively short, most holes in one are achieved with mid-lower irons rather than drivers.
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- Michelle Wie - hits 596 yard par 5 in 2 shots. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
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- Aumann, Mark (6 February 2015). "Remembering Alan Shepard's lunar golf shots, 44 years later". PGA of America.