Golf has undergone both technological and data revolutions in recent years which have boosted the performance of players, so it feels like only a matter of time before somebody sets a new record for the longest drive.
We’ve looked at the PGA Tour’s statistics to reveal every officially recorded drive of at least 450 yards – along with every player who registered a drive of at least 400 yards in a season – to identify who could break the record in the future.
What are the longest golf drives on record?
The introduction of the ShotLink measurement system shortly after the turn of the century has allowed every drive on the PGA Tour to be measured accurately with a laser.
Under these conditions, the longest drive is the 476-yard monster unleashed by Davis Love III at Kapalua in January 2004.
Love wasn’t the obvious candidate to set the record that season as, despite recording an average driving distance of marginally over 300 yards, there were 10 golfers striking the ball further from the tee.
The previous record, which still remains in second place by three yards, was Jeff Sluman’s effort in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic a year earlier.
Sluman’s drive was made all the more impressive by him being six years older than Love at the time of his achievement, plus standing eight inches shorter.
Furthermore, his average driving distance that season wasn’t even among the top 100 and there was only one other season in the ShotLink era in which he sent a ball at least 400 yards.
Both of the courses at which the two longest drives were recorded feature elsewhere in the current top 10.
The Plantation Course at Kapalua makes January a popular month to see long drives, with both Retief Goosen and Gary Woodland having cleared at least 450 yards there.
The PGA West (Palmer) course used in the Bob Hope Classic was the setting for a declining David Duval’s 454-yarder back in 2002.
Who could break the record?
There have been nine golfers who have driven the ball at least 400 yards in three or more of the last five seasons, but only one who has managed it every time.
Justin Thomas is already in the top 10 with his 457-yard effort in 2019 and his 449-yarder this year was agonisingly close to making him the only golfer to have two entries on the list, so he is an obvious candidate.
However, his highest average driving distance of 305.2 yards is some way short of what other active golfers have managed.
Bubba Watson’s 312.9 yards tops the list and his 455-yard drive at Pebble Beach last June is a further sign of his potential.
There are two relative newcomers who might steal the headlines, however.
Cameron Champ and Kurt Kitayama have both turned pro within the last five years and already recorded higher average distances over a season than Watson.
The course – and more specifically the hole – clearly play a huge part in how far a ball can be hit, and some stand out as likely settings for a record-breaking drive.
The Plantation Course at Kapalua has provided almost half of all season-best 400-plus-yard drives in the ShotLink era and features four of the five holes which have seen the most recorded.
However, the 16th hole of the Firestone Country Club (South) is the most productive overall with eight more than its nearest contender. Bet on golf!
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