An addendum to the “Long Drive Contest” story.

Today is one day on a fairway that might skew the results. Jamie might not hit his best shot, Bubba may hit a 4 foot wide hard spot and get 20 extra yards of roll….etc. Variables aside, on a fairway that is uniform in both contour and firmness, Jamie is longer than all of these guys he is hitting against. By probably 20 yards or more, best shot for best shot.

Tour players are not as long as the top Long Drivers. Even the longest Tour players.

End of story.

Being possibly the only person in golf who ever was a true pro long driver and also played with many Tour players on The Nationwide Tour, anyone who would argue with me, is just not paying attention and is arguing their speculation and perception with my experience and facts.

I will tell you a story that displays how many people in the golfing public understand distance…and it’s this lack of understanding of distance that hinders many people’s golf games.

I am not casting aspersions at all of you, it has just been my experience that a very few understand distance and relative distance in golf and it’s why every sand trap short of the green is trashed and all of the sand traps over the green are pristine.

Over the years, as you all know, I have been inundated with hundreds or even thousands of stories about how someone knows someone who hits it farther than me.

More often than not, it was some schmoe, but sometimes it was a Tour player. During these years, John Daly dominated the driving stats and I knew I was longer than he was. So when someone would tell me that PGA Tour player X hit it farther than me and he was 20 yards below Daly in the stats, I would just smile and not respond.

Here is a story about how people have no perception of distance and how they put PGA Tour players on a pedestal. They deserve to be there, but in some instances, the height of that pedestal is too high.

I played with a guy one day who gets on the first tee and says, “I hear you hit it pretty far. It’s going to be fun for us today as I average over 300 and we are going to be going head to head all day.”

I get on the tee and hit one and those who have played with me will agree it doesn’t look like I hit it that far, so he was not that impressed. He hit his drive and had body language like he thought he had just out driven me by 20 yards.

We get out there and I was about 50 past him. He ripped his and was about 270. I hit mine decent and was about 320. However, not understanding how I could be so far ahead of him, he talked about how I must have nutted mine and he hit his in the heel. he was not subtle and actually very condescending.

For the next 5 or 6 holes he was coming out of his shoes and hitting it all over creation. Finally he gives himself a hernia, grunts, nuts one, looks at me and says, “That’s all I got, catch it if you can.”

By now I was quite tired of this fool, so I got on one. One of the other players in our group stepped it off at 70+ yards longer.

This clown was dumbfounded and said possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard…”Wow, if you hit it that far, those guys on the PGA Tour must really kill it.”

Having had enough I replied, “So you average 300, I had just it more than 70 yards past your best ball and Tour players…plural…must really kill it. Meaning they hit it farther than me? I guess if I look up the PGA Tour stats I will find they average in the 400’s.”

I said it yesterday. If Bubba, Dustin, Robert, or maybe JB trained to only hit the ball far. Yes, I believe they could be competitive, but as of today they are not as long as the top long drivers and today will not change that…no matter the result.

Just like on a given day I could play with a Tour player and shoot a lower score than them…it doesn’t mean I am better golfer than they are.

This whole rant is about one thing. Golf is so subjective. Scores and distances are only meaningful in context.

I will tell you something that will sound like an opinion, but is absolutely true.

When PGA Tour players are at their best, they are better than you perceive…by a significant margin.

When PGA Tour players are bad, they are worse than you perceive…again, by a significant margin.

PGA Tour players do not hit the ball as far as you perceive.

All three of these things are a function of how golf is portrayed on TV and in the golf media…and if you think seeing them in person changes that…those perceptions are skewed by preconceptions of the previous statement.

All that is relevant…when the top PGA Tour players are in top form…good gracious are they awesome.

When top long drivers are in top form, they are longer than you can imagine.

If Jamie doesn’t win, he didn’t hit it well or someone got a favorable roll.

Long drivers spend all day long with a launch monitor practicing trajectory and spin to go along with their club head speed to get maximum distance with an extra long club. They practice getting the club in funky positions trying to achieve max distance and just enough accuracy to get them in the grid.

The Tour players practice something totally different and just grabbing a long club and gaining a few mph of speed is not the only factor. Months of practice and thousands of balls figuring how to get the max distance out of a club and testing many clubs to see the one that works for you.

You know how I know these things? Because I figured out that a 50″ driver aiming 30 yards left of the fairway, playing the ball way back in my stance and making a big sway was the way I could hit it the farthest…even though that wasn’t the way I created the most club head speed.

I found this out by hitting many thousands of balls. So even though Bubba may be only at a 10-15 mph club speed defecit, he is spending his time trying to get the ball in the hole…not trying to figure out how to get 3 more yards out of a driver. Club head speed is one of many factors that are involved in how far a ball goes.

It is the EXACT same thing as fast football players and sprinters. If you took the fastest guys in the NFL and trained them as sprinters, they would be competitive. Take them in the middle of football season and put them against world class sprinters. They eat dirt.

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27 Comments

  1. Wally

    Monte
    Looks to me like Jamie has a high hands “Classic” swing rather than the flatter swing many of the pro’s use today. Could it be he is on to something like “letting the club do most of the work”. Where have I heard that before? See what happens when the “training coaches” get a hold on him.

    Reply
  2. Bob34

    FWIW, anything I said in the other thread wasn’t based off perception. It was based off stats and the time I saw him at Doral was based off Trackman. I also didn’t take the time to write that I am sure Bubba would go to the launch monitor & club fitter to get a driver with a longer shaft optimized for him. I thought that was a given as I’m sure his current driver has been optimized for him.

    Monte, in the 90’s you didn’t have trackman so you had to adjust your swing AND try a bunch of different drivers to get the right launch angle and spin. Folks don’t have to adjust thier swing AS MUCH or hit thousands of balls anymore the way you did back then. As you know, a good club fitter does most of that work now… Sure there would be some adjustment to a longer shaft and sure Bubba is not ‘training’ to be a long ball driver but it’s pretty obvious the guy has a natural talent for it just from looking at the numbers.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Bob, I have no problem with what you are saying. I just disagree with a few details…and that’s OK.

      Reply
      • Bob34

        Yeah, it’s all good. There’s no doubt that Sadlowski and the top LDA guys are phenominally long and would smoke the avg tour player. I just happen to think Bubba in particular has a shot to be right up there without much effort.

        I also understand a bit about COR, MOI, smash factor, etc… Probably a little more than the avg person. For example, Mazza’s launch angle and spin numbers weren’t good enough by themselves or even a better smash factor to overcome the difference in CHS from 138 to 145 (Assuming linear progression) when he won in the semi’s. The data they showed on TV was almost identical. The difference is that there is a point of diminishing return in COR as well as the increased aerodynamic force on USGA legal golf balls as impact speeds get larger. I.e. it’s not a linear progression for COR or smash factor’s effect on ball speed as CHS gets higher…

        http://www.usga.org/news/2006/April/Speed-Vs–Distance–Do-Long-Hitters-Get-An-Unfair-Benefit-/

        I only say all of the above to let you know why I don’t think the top LDA guys would “KILL” Bubba. I’m pretty sure Bubba can generate CHS in excess of 135 mph already (and has optimum launch conditions) so then it becomes more about who can keep it in the grid than anything else…

        Reply
  3. Brett Picotte

    I remember back in 2003 or 2004, they had the Pinnacle Distance Challenge at all of the LDA Long Drive tournaments (there was a big LDA tour then, and they put the events on ESPN2). Guys who were new to long drive would compete all day, then the best would go head to head with Pinnacle Distance team members in the finals that evening. The best from each stop (12 of them) went against John Daly later in the year.

    Pinnacle was convinced Daly would smoke these newbies, and $100,000 was the prize for any of these guys if they could beat John. I think each hit 3 balls. 9 out of 12 beat him (some by a long way), and Pinnacle had to pay out $900,000. They didn’t do that again the next year. 🙂

    Reply
    • Will

      Good post. It seems like people tend to associate freak athleticism with superior skill. It’s like watching some guy with a 45″ vertical doing unbelievable things with a ball during a dunk contest and saying “hey, you should be in the NBA”. Sure, most NBA players can likely out-jump your average rec league player. But being a great leaper/dunker is not the same as being a great player. Golf is the same way.

      Now I’m not saying that there isn’t skill involved with hitting it silly long; there’s a lot. The fact that a tour pro would have to specifically practice for it should tell you that. But because people tend to get longer as they move from hacker to player, people often mistakenly think that a really long player must also be a really good player. Tour players are on tour because they shoot better scores on a more consistent basis than everybody else, not because they’re longer than everybody else.

      Reply
  4. Lawrence (parteeboy)

    Monte, I’m so disappointed with you – man of little faith. You of all people should understand that if they are pitting Jamie against the PGA Tour players it is like having a man in your local club play against 10 year old boys. Why are you trying to justify what will happen before it happens? I don’t care what the fairway looks like, I don’t care what the winds are, Jamie WILL kill all of these guys as long as the contest is that of driving the golf ball off the tee. Maybe they should have made it more interesting by giving Jamie a 5 wood instead. That would really show the whole world the difference between a long driver and a PGA Tour player. 🙂

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      I competed once on a fairway that had a huge down slope, a flat and an up slope. I flew a ball past the flat onto the beginning of the up slope and got minus one foot of roll. Some guy, who I had played with and was a lot longer than, flew it 40 yards shorter, got a huge bounce and beat me by 2 yards.

      Reply
  5. Swingtech

    A couple of years ago or so I had the opportunity to watch Monte in person as he played in a mini-tour event in Arizona and I can attest to the fact that he can still bomb it out there. On one hole he clocked a drive 400 yards, very straight, and ended up pin high just off the left of the green, which was elevated, no wind. Oh yeah, he was using a usga legal length driver, not sure how long, but it had to be 48″ or less. In another event on that same tour, on his second shot on a par five from the left rough, his ball was sitting down in about 3″ inches of bermuda. He hit one of the most spectacular shots I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of them. The wind was blowing at least 20mph into him and he had to carry to small elevated green over water. Not sure how far, but I think it was in the range of 225 yds. He whipped out a 3 iron and nailed the shot on a line drive and it landed on the green and stopped a few feet from the hole. The other pros (who he had out driven) were yelling over to congratulate him on the shot that they knew was something special. Just getting the ball out of the rough with a 3 iron was quite an acomplishment. Monte has several gears and can play a wide variety of golf shots. I was very impressed.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Two things.

      If it was a tournament, it was a 45″ driver.

      Thank you for posting a story that made me look good. Please post often. 😀

      Hopefully you saw me in 2003 or 2004, because if it was 2008, that was a the worst struggles of my career. The bottom so to speak.

      Reply
  6. Michael

    Kelly Tilghman via Twitter:
    Yesterday from forward tee on Plantation’s par 5 18th Jamie Sadlowski nearly reached green! See if PGA TOUR’s longest can keep up!

    I don’t think Jamie’s going to have much trouble beating Bubba, DJ, and Garrigus.

    Reply
  7. banner12

    I guess you could say it’s about skill set. Think of decathlon athletes. They are similar to golfers as they must master a number of skill sets to be the best overall like golf where a number of skills (driving, irons, short game, sand play, putting etc.) must all be mastered to be the best player. An Olympic decathlon champion is never the best in the world in any of the 10 events, just the best in all combined. Similarly, a long driver gets to do 1 thing, with a natural skill set favorable to doing that one thing and he won’t be beaten by someone who is a master of all trades.

    There are rare exceptions like Bob Hayes who was still the fastest man in the world when he took up football (well, at least until he got knocked around a bit), but they are few and far between.

    At the end of the day, you have to rig a contest (like today) for the longest PGA player to even be competitive and even then they will lose…

    Reply
  8. carrera

    I played the Plantation course a few months ago and agree that it would only be competitive for the PGA guys if Jamie fails to get the turbo boost down the hill.

    Dominic Mazza hits balls at a range 15 minutes from my house and he looks like an average high school soccer player but like Tim Lincecum he can do superhuman things with a driver. My teacher has one student who is a 5’0″ high school freshman who swings at 112-114. Another student is a former NFL wide receiver who is 6’5″ and 220, legit 6 hcp and he swings the same speed. No correlation…some got “it”, and some don’t.

    Reply
  9. banchiline

    Thread-Jack in process

    Graeme McDowell had a great year.

    He learned the difference between what matters and what’s window dressing.

    In his own words, “I was struggling because I was starting to fall in love with trying to make my swing more technically correct on camera, with swinging the club nice instead of (swinging it) effectively. We’ve gotten very much back to playing golf. My swing went from technical to playable. I try to play shots instead of trying to make a perfect swing. I’m a tougher player.”

    He got longer (averaged almost 292 yards) and more accurate, too (more fairways and more greens).

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Excellent. Not a thread jack. It’s what this blog is all about.

      Reply
    • banchiline

      sorry……….progress

      Reply
  10. banner12

    Monte,

    Well you were wrong. Jamie blew it by Bubba by 50 yards…

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      LOL. I guess I overestimated the affect of the fairway…In addition, I only thought Jamie would be 20-30 yards longer.

      It looks like my overall point was correct though. 😀

      Reply
      • Lawrence (parteeboy)

        Man of little faith 🙂 😆

        Reply
  11. Michael

    What a shame. Sadlowski’s going to start working with Peter Kostis on his swing as he wants to take it up another level.

    I see nothing but bad news in his future.

    Reply
  12. Bob34

    50 yards! Do I have to eat my crow raw or can I at least clean it and cook it?

    Reply
    • Lawrence (parteeboy)

      Only a big man can post something like this. I don’t think you should eat crow. I think all of us here should treat you to a feast! 🙂

      Reply
      • Bob34

        Thanks! Mom always told me to take responsibility for my mistakes.

        Reply

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