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bones75

Tour players in long drive competition

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How would the longer guys on tour fare in long drive competitions like RE/MAX? Assume they didn't just go up and hit, but had range time to figure stuff out for the format. Wondering how a DJ or Bubba can hit when completely letting loose, knowing they only needed like 1 in 10(?) to actually land in the grid.

Sorry if it's a topic already (I did look)

Edited by bones75

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Great question. I bet a few of them like DJ and Bubba would be able to get it out over 400 yards with relatively little practice, especially once they got fit for a proper long drive type shaft and head loft.

I think most of the long drive guys use like a 3 or 4 degree driver, most of the PGA guys are more traditional like 8-10.5 I think. 

I'd love to see this happen one day!

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I feel the same about PGA Tour players competing in Long Drive as I do about Long Drive competitors competing on the PGA Tour. They're both the best at what they do and they both hit a golf ball with a golf club, but that's about where the similarities end.

Here are DJ's numbers, which I got from Trackman's blog:

Dustin-Johnson-Driver-WGC-Mexico-2017.png

And here are the numbers I found for Justin James, the 2017 Volvik Long Drive Champion, which I obtained from Boditrak Sports:

JJTrackman-768x1024.png

Now I'm not saying DJ can't ramp it up a little if he trained exclusively for long drive, but 20mph club speed is a lot of ground and I'm not sure if he is capable of swinging that fast. It would be like trying to get Ben Crane to compete with DJ on driving distance; he's probably going to lose even if he spends an entire year training for it.

DJ is too busy winning on the PGA Tour to train for this proposed exhibition so even if it did happen, we wouldn't see much from him. A tour pro in a long drive competition wouldn't be very interesting to watch, IMO.

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I believe there are guys on tour who could compete in the long drive.  Tony Finau, for example, used to hit it farther and has shortened his swing and dialed back on distance.  I'm sure DJ could compete as well, if that's what his focus was.  On the PGA tour, distance is a great help, but I don't believe guys are reckless about it.  Long drive, they're going all out every swing 

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@klineka and @billchao made me think about shaft length.  I just looked up that Bubba usually plays with a 44.5" (DJ w/ a 45.75"?) and that long drive compettion allows for 48" (which Justin James uses). Doesn't that increase club head velocity for the same rotational velocity in a direct ratio (48/43.5)?  If so then Bubba's "normal" swing speed of 123.89mph would be ~133mph w/ the longer shaft. I feel like I'm missing something in the physics/math part, but just wondering how the longer shaft length translates is all.

Even with that, Bubba would still need to find ~9mph more clubhead speed by letting loose.  I honestly have no idea if that would easy or near impossible.

 

 

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39 minutes ago, bones75 said:

I just looked up that Bubba usually plays with a 44.5" (DJ w/ a 45.75"?) and that long drive compettion allows for 48" (which Justin James uses). Doesn't that increase club head velocity for the same rotational velocity in a direct ratio (48/43.5)?  If so then Bubba's "normal" swing speed of 123.89mph would be ~133mph w/ the longer shaft.

I don't think there's a set formula that says an increase of shaft length X will lead to an increase of swing speed Y. After all, the club is being swung by a person and people react to things differently.

41 minutes ago, bones75 said:

Even with that, Bubba would still need to find ~9mph more clubhead speed by letting loose.  I honestly have no idea if that would easy or near impossible.

I think the top guys on tour in swing speed could probably compete if they trained for long drive, but where's the incentive? They're making more money on the PGA Tour. I'd bet if any of the long drive guys had the game to play on tour, they'd switch in a heartbeat.

That's kind of what I was alluding to before. DJ, Bubba, Finau, et al in their current state probably don't stand much of a chance against the best in the world at long drive. They practice to play golf well. If they changed their routine purely for long drive competitions, their golf game would suffer, but they probably could compete. In the end, they'd become long drive competitors, but what would be the point in that?

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2 hours ago, Denny Bang Bang said:

 On the PGA tour, distance is a great help, but I don't believe guys are reckless about it.  Long drive, they're going all out every swing 

I watches some long drive competition recently, and it seems the LD people knocked every other shot OB. Probably it would be difficult to try for 400 + drives one week, and find the fairway on the tight 360-yd. No. 14 at Muirfield Village the next.

At a lower level, scratch amateurs complain about bad drives the first solo round after a scramble. In the scramble, the scratch players were trying to bomb it every hole after the B-player put a drive 210 down the middle. This is hard to turn off once they play their next normal round.

As bc said,

4 hours ago, billchao said:

I feel the same about PGA Tour players competing in Long Drive as I do about Long Drive competitors competing on the PGA Tour. They're both the best at what they do and they both hit a golf ball with a golf club, but that's about where the similarities end.

 

Edited by WUTiger

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@billchao yea, I get what you're saying. I was just talking an a purely theoretical physics sense. Although it requires more torque and energy (in say joules), the same rotational velocity exhibits a higher club head speed the longer the shaft. I also agree no tour player in reality would compete in those competitions. I meant it more in a fun theory-crafting manner.

How about if they had just had a 2 hours of range time to make some very simple adjustments, including getting used to a longer shaft?  Even if tour players couldn't win, could they even be in competition?  Would be interesting for example if Bubba could beat half the field, even if he only had an hour to try the format.

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9 minutes ago, bones75 said:

I was just talking an a purely theoretical physics sense. Although it requires more torque and energy (in say joules), the same rotational velocity exhibits a higher club head speed the longer the shaft. I also agree no tour player in reality would compete in those competitions. I meant it more in a fun theory-crafting manner.

Well that's the problem. Iron Byron would produce predictable results. Humans aren't machines. The club will feel different and that will create different results, depending on the person. I have no doubt that Bubba would be able to find the sweetspot on a 48" driver, but whether the extra 3.5" leads to a 3mph increase in swing speed or a 7mph increase would probably have to be tested rather than guessed at.

13 minutes ago, bones75 said:

How about if they had just had a 2 hours of range time to make some very simple adjustments, including getting used to a longer shaft?  Even if tour players couldn't win, could they even be in competition?  Would be interesting for example if Bubba could beat half the field, even if he only had an hour to try the format.

Long Drive competitions are matches, so I suppose anything can happen. They're not all hitting 400 yard drives all the time and just being in the grid is enough to win a match sometimes, so theoretically he could win matches. I'm not sure what would tell us that we didn't already know about Bubba Watson though.

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The PGA did bring back a long drive contest at the PGA Championship and although the pros give a good cut at it they are not about to change their technique or risk hurting themselves just before a Major is about to begin.  Back in 1963 Jack won the contest with a 341 yard drive using persimmon and a wound ball - I suspect he would be DJ distance today.  

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My buddy had a 48in triple x stiff with a long driver head. It wasn't krank, I don't remember the name.  Using a little radar device, my swing speed is 118mph with my driver, 45in.  With the 48in, it was 133mph, but I was trying to swing faster.  It's definitely a lot of work to get that freakin head closed at impact.  I got a couple good hits, but I was hitting my own driver further with a lower swing speed.  Smash factor is very important.

I imagine, DJ or Bubba will have similar jumps if they try it.  It is a different swing though, which I doubt they'd want to practice.

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Out of curiosity, I want to see what these long drive guys do with persimmon woods. 

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@bones75 @billchao Long time reader of TST, but first time posting. I had to when I saw this topic. ~12 years ago when I was about 8 years old I actually asked David Duval this question. My dad is in athletics industry and I was lucky to have dinner with David, his caddy and a few other people after a small charity type tournament (this is when he was really struggling).  Funny thing is the very first thing David asked was how long their driver shafts were, then him and his caddy did some math and then David said "I don't think I could compete, but I'm sure many on the tour could... not sure if they could win the championship though." David further went on to say that he can't really swing any harder then he already does on the tour, that there's not much more he can put into to it than he does already, even if he had multiple tries. Me and my dad talked about it further (long drives were a thing for me when I was 8) and we surmised that if he tried it for a few weeks he could probably develop a "long drive contest" swing, but as already stated no one at the table actually thought for a second that a PGA player would try it.

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14 hours ago, nevets88 said:

Out of curiosity, I want to see what these long drive guys do with persimmon woods. 

I miss persimmon woods.

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17 hours ago, nevets88 said:

Out of curiosity, I want to see what these long drive guys do with persimmon woods. 

Well, here are Rickie's numbers:

 

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Going with the reverse situation, Jamie Sadlowski is playing tour events with standard drivers now, and is in the top 20 or so in driving distance. I'd guess he'd have the potential to be near the top, but not that much longer? The current long drive champ, Maurice, might be a tad longer as well, but probably not by a huge margin?

Some player on Web tour supposedly hits up to 390 with some frequency.

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I dont if its the norm, but I saw a clip with the long drive guy thats big with Callaway and he looked like he could be an NFL linebacker. Are most of them big guys? I know strength isnt everything, but the guy did say he focuses a ton on leg and core work at the gym.

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43 minutes ago, cutchemist42 said:

I dont if its the norm, but I saw a clip with the long drive guy thats big with Callaway and he looked like he could be an NFL linebacker. Are most of them big guys? I know strength isnt everything, but the guy did say he focuses a ton on leg and core work at the gym.

Yes, they're generally very big. Usually, with tons of fast twitch muscles.

Jamie Sadlowski is the exception and not the rule.

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