LONG DRIVES AT THE PGA
At the US PGA Championship they hold a longest drive compo on the Tuesday.This year’s winner was Korean Ben An with a drive of 347 yards, two yards longer than Rory McIlroy, with Nic Colsaerts at 341. The drives weren’t any longer than in the previous decades of persimmon woods. In 1982,Andy Bean hit his drive 346 yards, and in 1963 Jack Nicklaus reached 341.
So there has been a negligible gain of distance in 53 years despite all the hype about balls that fly faster / higher / better / further, and “this club will give you 20 yards” – which salesmen have been promising every year for over 20 years.
However, I do realise that today’s drivers have a larger sweet-spot and are more forgiving. Our club pro at Southbroom on the KZN South Coast, Derek James, has been playing with an old metal-head Callaway Big Bertha Warbird recently, and hitting it so well, outdriving quite a few big hitters locally. Bernie Vorster, Southbroom Golf has always had its exceptionally long hitters, but technology has meant that the average driving distance on the professional tours is now longer than it ever was. And today’s truly long hitters are spectacular to watch.Young American Justin Thomas, featured in this issue (Page 7) hit a drive measured at 414 yards in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in July, three yards longer than Bubba Watson’s best of 411 in Hawaii and 409 at Pebble Beach. Our own George Coetzee had a 398-yard drive at the Canadian Open.