“The Long Drive Contest”

Apparently, there is going to be a long drive contest on 18 at Kapalua between Jamie Sadlowski, Bubba Watson, Robert Garrigus and Dustin Johnson tomorrow.

Like I said in a response a few days ago, thinking that long hitting PGA Tour players can beat a world class long driver is like thinking the fastest football players could beat Ussain Bolt in a sprint race.

Now if Bubba, Robert or Dustin spent 6 months to a year practicing just hitting it far and training for it, the story might be different and they might be competitive.

In my prime, I was longer than Daly or any other Tour player. I witnessed this first hand in a little mini contest I had with Daly on the range during The Skins Game in 1991. That was before I got even longer. My peak was in 1993 where I basically destroyed everyone for 6 months.

I also played with several future Tour players on the Nationwide Tour that finished near the top of the PGA Tour driving stats.

Another frame of reference was the Nationwide event I played in 2008. I hit it awful, sideways and not solid. I had a 240 yard drive mixed into my 4 qualifying drives after hitting a tree, yet still finished in the top 5 for driving distance that week. Had that drive been eliminated, I would have finished first by about 10-12 yards.

Now on to tomorrow’s contest. The 18th at Kapalua is a horrible disadvantage for Jamie. As one poster on another message board said, I believe the PGA Tour knows this.

All drives funnel down to the same area at the bottom. One of two things will happen. Jamie will fly the ball past the area that gets the big bounces and he might lose…or he will get a decent roll and end up only 10 or so yards ahead of the PGA guys.

This is the telling thing to watch. My prediction is Jamie will fly the ball 20-30 yards farther and get hosed on the roll and either lose, or win by a small margin.

On the grid in Mesquite, Jamie beats the Tour guys by 30 yards or more.

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14 Comments

  1. Wally

    Monte
    Great post, had the shaft extended onmy big bertha 454 to 47″ works great I get another 20 yds

    Reply
  2. S.

    If my recollection is correct, that is an extreme downhill hole, and the bounce and roll will mean everything. Very scenic, but a horrible choice for a long-drive contest.

    Rather than hitting it far, they’ll be trying to hit the point of maximum roll.

    Reply
  3. Bob34

    Hmmm, wish I could watch this. I don’t see Jamie outdriving Bubba by 30 on the grid. During the last long drive championship, there were times when 380 was a good number just because of a few degrees drop in temp and a little wind. I’ve seen Bubba hit 350+ at Doral (sea level) & into a good breeze. Goto Mequite and I’d think 380 would definitely be in Bubba’s range.

    Reply
    • S.

      Then Bubba would probably get smoked. Jamie S. hit over 400 at Mesquite in the last ReMax (best drive).

      Reply
      • Bob34

        Yes Jamie did hit ~410 in the quarters but then he only got it to 380 something after the weather cooled a few degrees in the semi’s… If Bubba can hit it 350 in FL I don’t think it’s a far stretch for him to get close to 400 in Mesquite especially if Bubba goes to a little longer slightly less lofted driver and only has to get one outa 6 in the grid. I’m not saying Bubba would out drive him but he wouldn’t lose by 30 yards with all things being equal…

        Reply
  4. banner12

    Monte,

    It must kill you that people think the tour guys can keep up with the long drivers. You know from experience, but my goodness, anyone with a clue knows that the longest tour guy is no match for the best long drivers.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Like I will say tomorrow, even if one of those guys happens to beat Jamie for whatever reason…it means as much as if I got into a Tour event and beat one of these guys on Thursday.

      Reply
    • Bob34

      I may not have a clue but I still beg to differ. The longest couple of guys on tour could be a match for the long drivers in fairly short order. Lets look at some facts: Dominic Mazza (16 year old that made it to the final 2) hit a drive of 362 to make it to regionals. His clubhead speed was ~138 in the finals, Sadlowsk & Miller are at ~145 mph CHS. Bubba’s highest recorded on tour this year was 127.76 mph avg 122. You don’t think that with a longer shaft and a grip & rip it attitude, Bubba couldn’t get his clubhead speed to 138? As clueless as I may be, I’ll take that bet…

      Reply
  5. Bob34

    Sheesh…. I NEVER said “the tour guys” can keep up with the long drivers. I said “Bubba” wouldn’t get smoked by 30 yards with all things being equal.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Bob, no need to get exasperated. You are making part of my point. Using a longer club requires timing and practice. I said if these guys trained for it, they could compete…but as of now, I don’t think they can all things being equal.

      Edited: It’s also not just about club speed. It’s about practicing perfect launch angles and spin for maximum distance all day long with driver and a launch monitor.

      Bubba is trying to hit the ball where he can hit the next shot to the green and doesn’t care as much about that stuff…and driver is a low % of his practice.

      Reply
  6. Brett Picotte

    A longer shaft doesn’t always mean more distance. There are several long drivers who use shorter shafts than what is allowed. Some actually hit it shorter with the longest clubs. It’s an individual thing, and I don’t think you can just assume someone will pick up 10 mph of clubhead speed by getting a longer shaft.

    Reply
    • Bob34

      I give. My posts must be too long because people don’t really read them…

      Reply
  7. steve griffith

    Thanks for making your point about long drivers vs tour players. I share your opinion. I was thrilled to see Jamie Sadlowski beat the tour’s longest hitters. Up until now, the general golfing public could not really make an intelligent comparison because most have never seen a professional long drive competition. You have seen both the tour players and long drivers.

    Reply

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