Mike Austin: The Longest Golf Drive Ever Recorded
It is no secret that the game of golf is constantly evolving. Golfers young and old consistently look for any edge that they can bring to their game that will enable them to drive the ball longer and with more accuracy. As most seasoned golfers will tell you, however, bringing these two concepts together is much harder than it sounds. Consider Mike Austin as a prime example. For decades he has been considered as the golfer with the longest golf drive ever recorded. He even has his own place in the Guinness Book of World Records to prove it. What he does not have, however, are any PGA championship titles to his name, which begs the question: Can someone drive the ball incredibly long distances and still knock strokes off their game?
Brief Bio About Mike AustinImage Source: peacerivergolf.com
Mike Austin was a golf professional that also specialized in the kinesiology of golf. This scientific approach to the game enabled him to become famous throughout the world for his long drives and his unique approach to the game. He was an incredibly healthy individual, continuing to golf long into his golden years before passing away in 2005 at the age of 95.
Austin’s love for golf dates all the way back to the Great Depression when he could be found running a local golf pro shop in the city of Atlanta during the summer months. While the winter months during those days precluded many from playing the game that they loved, Austin simply traveled down to Florida where he was known to play some of the notorious members of the Chicago mob for money. In essence, Austin had a love affair with the game of golf that would continue for the duration of his long life.
Even in those early years, Austin was known for his great play and ability to win bet, to the point that others quickly refused to play him for money. To combat this, he would offer to play one handed, and he even began to create side bets that sounded nearly impossible to win. One time it is even recorded that he bet $5,000 that he could shoot par while forsaking golf clubs to hit the ball with a Coke bottle. Naturally, many have since viewed this is a potential slight to the gentleman like nature that has long been associated with the game of golf. This did not stop Austin, however, from continuing his study of kinesiology and look for ways to hit the ball longer and do other incredible things on the golf course.
Before long, Mike Austin began traveling across America performing various trick shots. He would then issue open challenges to try to hit the ball longer than him, rarely if ever being beaten. He even began hitting numerous different types of shots with just an ordinary set of golf clubs, illustrating that it was not so much the golf club that matter, but the swing.
Mike Austin’s Impact on GolfImage Source: peacerivergolf.com
Mike Austin has had an undeniable lasting impact on the game of golf. Since the dawn of the game itself, professional and beginning golfers alike have tried to perfect their drives to the point that they could consistently hit the ball insanely long distances. From hours spent on the driving range, to practice courses, and to actual tournament golf, the goal has been to accomplish those par 5 holes with ease. Mike Austin proved that it is not necessarily the strongest and biggest man that hits the farthest. Being a relatively thin man, and of normal stature, the mere reality that Austin was able to hit the ball so long continues to perplex even the most strategically minded of golfers among us.
In the end, it is perhaps the losing side of this story as it relates to Mike Austin that highlights his impact on the game. Even with all of the long drives, trick shots, and balls hit with ordinary clubs, Austin never performed well on the Professional Tour. In fact, his best finish ever was back in 1961 at the Ontario Open, where he ended up tying for 37th place. His lowest four round score at a PGA Tour sanctioned event was 285. This was at the 1958 Tucson Open, when the score was only good enough for a tie at 51st place on the leaderboard. Even on the hole that is credited as being his longest golf drive in history, Austin ended up three putting his way to a bogey.
This highlights what golf professionals have been advocating for years. Long drives are great, but without accuracy or without complementary components of the game being perfected, overall scores will not improve. Austin did, however, illustrate the reality that even the most advanced golf club created in his generation would not produce a long drive if the technique were less than perfect. Austin did not opt for the ‘new’ driver fresh from the scientific laboratory. Instead, he demonstrated that insanely long drives could be achieved if one focused on the scientific approach to his golf swing.
This has now evolved in the modern era to analytic software that has been developed that enables golfer to look at various components of their swing and work over time to correct it. Much of this new technology is focused on the very principles of kinesiology that Austin devoted much of his professional life to understanding. This is great news for today’s golfer. It does not matter if you are a beginner or an advanced player. Austin illustrated that if you will focus on the various aspects of your swing and perfect that, then you will consistently be able to improve your drive and hitter longer balls. The key, of course, is to also work on accuracy.
Some of the Many Accomplishments of Mike AustinImage Source: .jaacobbowden.com
As mentioned, Mike Austin accomplished many feats in the game of golf that are still considered so amazing that many feel they can never be replicated. Many of these features revolve around trick shots that, quite honestly, most golfers have no desire to recreate. Golfers today want to enjoy the sport in the way it was intended, and this does revolve around being to master the long drive. Austin certainly has made this dream come closer to reality through what he was able to accomplish throughout this life.
Back in 1974, Mike Austin was able to drive one of his balls an amazing 515 yards. This was a record that has stood the test of time, even though a few have been reported to have since beaten it. Perhaps even more amazing was the reality that Austin accomplished this feat at the United States National Seniors Open Champions when he was 64 years of age. For the drive, he used a driver that was 43 ½ inches in length, and there was a reported tail win of about 30 miles per hour. That not withstanding, the drive was amazing and it ended up proving that Austin consistently hit long drives that always left the crowd and other golfers amazed.
Other Golfers Who Have Since Broke His Record
It should be noted that the average long drive for a professional golfer stands at just over 350 yards. Anything over 400 yards is considered phenomenal, and over 500 yards is nearly a miracle. The miracle status is probably not far off the mark, considering only a handful of golfers have ever been recorded to go that far. In the end, Austin still hold the Guinness Record for the longest drive at 515 yards, as previously mentioned. Others have come close in professional competition, but the record has not been broken.
In 2007, Nico Grobbelaar was reported to have hit a drive 551 yards during the world long drive championship. There is also a report that Carl Copper his a drive some 787 yards during a PGA Tour event in Texas back in 1992, but that was aided by the ball rolling down a concrete golf path that actually took it 300 yards beyond the green. The bottom line is that, for all intents and purposes, Mike Austin’s record for the longest drive stands to this day.
Will anyone break it? That certainly remains to be seen, but Austin proved that everyday golfers have just as much of a chance as anyone. Work on your drive. Perfect it. Analyze it and consistently work to improve. Enjoy the process and work on consistency. These are all sound words of advice and just might leave you one day with the longest golf drive ever recorded.