A couple of years ago, a journey began and I’m pleased to say that I’ve been a part of this great experiment. Many people are curious but few actually bother to find out what’s involved in becoming a Long Driver in golf. Our story begins when I became friends with a fellow softball player and his family. My softball career was on it’s way down and I pretty much was just coaching teams on my way out. One of the players on my team was also a golfer and we eventually got around to playing a few rounds of golf. It became apparent very quickly that this guy could hit the ball a great distance even though his swing was raw around the edges. There are things that you simply can’t coach in sports including speed, natural ability and raw power. As we began to develop a friendship, we teamed up for a few 2 man golf tournaments and it was a natural mix of fire and ice. The big man could crank on the driver and I could keep calm and hit shots under pressure. The turning point for pursuing the Long Drive dream may well have taken place as we exited the softball field. I turned to Big Mike and told him as we walked to his family, “I can promise you one thing, if I could hit a golf ball as far as you, there’s no doubt what I would do…I’d start working on my golf swing and never again touch a softball bat.” It wasn’t very long until my friend asked me what it would take to get into Long Drive? Although I was pretty familiar with tournament golf, I have to admit that I was a stranger to the sport of Long Drive. Our first effort was to purchase a used Long Drive club on Ebay. The club was Geek Dot Com This 6* driver on a UST- V2 LD4 shaft. We had no idea how long the club was or the true condition of it. I had previously owned a Bang O Matic driver and was familiar with the creator Steve Almo who had moved over to Geek Golf. We took the club to the driving range and proceeded to hit a few shots from the mats on concrete. within the first 5 shots with the driver, the Big Guy connected on a shot and although the ball went over the tree line at the end of the range, the sound that followed left little doubt about what had happened…a shattered club head. I reached out to Geek Golf and actually reached Steve Almo directly. This was an eye opener because there’s no other sport that I know of that you could speak directly to the Owner or designer of the equipment. Mr. Almo is a super nice guy and although he didn’t owe us anything, he made me a deal on 2 more Long Drive heads. We tried to salvage the shaft that we had but after a couple breaks in the shaft, it was a lost cause. The Geek Heads were and are quality equipment and I have nothing but positive words to say about them and Steve Almo. Our next turn in the road was meeting a local Long Driver, Kyle Blakely. We obtained valuable insight from Kyle and he offered us a chance to purchase some of his used Adams equipment. We began trying out the clubs and learned that it really doesn’t matter what club and shaft you swing, if you have a tendency to hit the ball on the heel area of the club, the shaft simply will not hold up to a high swing speed. Dave Mobley once gave possibly the greatest advice that I’ve ever heard as he spoke to a newbie Long Driver, “hit the ball better before you hit it farther”. We also became familiar with the concept of flattening a club face out and what a bulge and roll gauge is. We met another component maker at Shank’s while getting ready to compete in our first Long Drive event. Scott Chandler from MOI Golf was on hand and offered us a chance to swing his product. As it turns out, Mike ended up purchasing a couple of clubs from MOI. This was our first foray into the land of new equipment. Again, Scott and MOI were great and showed us that the people in this business are very accessible and willing to share their knowledge. It was with these drivers that Big Mike hit maybe the longest ball I’ve ever witnessed at Shank’s, a 426 yard blast that sent him into his very first regional qualifier for the Re/Max World Long Drive Championships. We took our show on the road and although there were hurricane force winds assisting the hitters, we learned another valuable lesson…a slice or fade swing makes it difficult to compete on a National level in the World of Long Drive. My next few months were focused on finding the best way to cure a slice or fade swing. Through much trial and error, we gradually removed most of the left to right ball flight. We finally found ourselves in need of a new driver or two and just as a random chance, I sent an email to Yeti Golf and John Kelly. I expressed that we call our Big Guy, Sasquatch and it just seems natural that a Sasquatch should swing a Yeti Driver. Once again, John Kelly at Yeti confirmed just how good the people in the sport can be. He allowed us an opportunity to swing his Long Drive head and I obtained a few Long Drive shafts from another friend in Long Drive, Chris Deason. I had the Yeti 7* head installed on a yellow Enzo Shaft and when we took this setup to the range, it was just pure gold. As the range session went on, I tweeted John at Yeti and asked him to give us a call which he did. We described just how well the session had gone and our appreciation for being allowed to review his product. There are times in life when you meet people who just understand you and handle business in the proper way and this was one of those times. The next few months consisted of obtaining more Yeti driver heads and having clubs built. When it came time for round 2 of the regional qualifier for the Re/Max World Long Drive Championships, we were better prepared and locked and loaded with a few Yeti Drivers. In the end, we did not advance past regionals again but had many positives to build upon. Woven in and around many of the Long Drive events, we were fortunate enough to compete on the American Power Golf Developmental Tour. The APG Developmental Tour is a starting point or launching pad to allow beginning Long Drivers to compete against similar talent levels at less cost. Sasquatch ended his first year on that tour with a second place finish overall.
So what have we learned thus far in our journey? The sport of Long Drive is a hidden gem in a world of high brow and silver spoon types in standard golf. Building clubs and learning what works best can be a rewarding experience. The people that make Long Drive equipment are largely accessible and will do everything within their power to get the proper equipment in your hands. Most of the athletes are down to earth and will spend time talking to you and encouraging your efforts. This isn’t a sport based simply on money but pride, glory and love of the sport play huge parts. Unlike some of the sophisticated golf events, your opinion and honesty are welcomed and you are free to be yourself and to create a character. It’s not a dying sport, regardless of what a few negative haters have to say. Freedom of expression flows all the way through to the swings that are used and some are as unique as their fingerprints.
I can further describe the sport of Long Drive as follows. It’s a well known fact that Shark Attack Golf is a huge fan of a good sub sandwich and we even call Firehouse Subs our branch office. Just because you purchase the supplies to make a sub sandwich at home, it doesn’t mean you’re going to create a Firehouse Sub and just because you hit a playing driver past a few of your buddies on the course, it doesn’t mean that you’re a long driver. We have discovered that most of the guys who brag about hitting every drive 300 yards are unwilling to show up and test their metal even at a minor league event. Paying to compete and having all of the equipment also doesn’t make you a threat. Lots of people walk around thinking they’re making Firehouse quality subs when in reality, their sub would best be compared to Subway.
What does the future hold? Nothing is for sure but all I can say is stay tuned and hold onto your butts because it’s gonna be a wild ride.
Shark Attack Golf