Long-drive legends: Bomber Fister goes distance with new goal
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Editor’s note: The Re/Max World Long Drive Championship started Sept. 18 in Mesquite, Nev., and will finish with the Open Division finals Oct. 30 in Las Vegas. To celebrate the event, which attracts hundreds of golfers from dozens of countries, Golfweek is compiling a series of profiles of prominent long-drive participants who helped shape the sport.
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In the beginning, many long-drive fans cheered him wildly yet didn’t even know his name. He was “The Beast,” and that was enough.
Sean “The Beast” Fister is now 51 and has undergone four back surgeries in the past three years. Incredibly, he still competes.
In an earlier era, he was the face of long driving. He won three Open Division world titles, and he stirred the long-drive pot with boastfulness and enthusiasm.
Fister and his buddy Brian Pavlet, himself a long-drive legend and former national champion, changed the sport. They were tall, powerful athletes who came to long driving from other pursuits, Pavlet a minor-league baseball career and Fister a multisport background.
At the University of Florida, the 6-foot-5-inch Fister had track-and-field coaches fighting with baseball coaches for his services. Baseball lost, even though Fister is said to have had more velocity on his fastball than any Gators pitcher in years. He became a pole vaulter with his eye on the decathlon. Then he missed the pit in a meet and injured his back.
Although he had never swung a golf club, he decided to join some friends for a round of golf during his senior year. He drove the green on a 345-yard hole and was hooked.
Fister won his first world title in 1995. In 2001, he would add a second after a memorable showdown with Pavlet. Nobody could catch Pavlet, not even Fister, who was down to his final drive.
What he did is regarded by some observers as the most memorable drive in Re/Max World Championship history. On his last ball, hitting into a steady breeze, Fister blasted a 376-yard drive that was 2 yards longer than Pavlet’s best.
In 2005, weighing 265 pounds or so, Fister muscled his way to a third world crown. The only other hitter to win that many Open Division world titles is Canadian Jason Zuback, who has five and is seeking a sixth at age 43.
Today, Fister is going up against a new opponent: the business world. He and his wife, Karen, and their three children have moved from Little Rock, Ark., to Charleston, S.C., where he is running a company called Fister Golf.
For years, Fister was sponsored by Dunlop Golf and was closely involved in the design of many Dunlop drivers. Now he is making drivers with his own name on them.
The Fister Model 1, his top-of-the-line driver, has a beautiful classic shape with a surprising amount of pop. It is available with a choice of two lofts (9.0 and 10.5) and three premium Fujikura shafts (Motore F1, Motore F3, and FUEL) for $399.99 at FisterGolf.com.
Make no mistake: Fister has designed this driver himself. He also is a fanatic for quality control, and the driver has an extremely clean look at address. What he lacks in marketing dollars, Fister is supplementing with personal appearances.
Fister also has launched the Fister Golf Power Academy. He talks about tour-level training for golfers who want to improve accuracy and consistency as well as distance.
Some golfers think the golf swing is taught best by highly successful players, and these same golfers tend to think distance can be most effectively taught by those who have hit the ball the longest.
In Charleston, S.C., there is a beast who would like to Fisterize all golfers hungry for more distance.
Once, in Canada, a long-drive contest pitted two teams, one from America and one from the World. The outcome came down to a slugfest between the two captains, Fister on the American side and Zuback for the World.
Zuback was first, smashing a 434-yard drive. Then it was Fister: 444, walkoff, see you later.