Achenbach: 5 myths about long driving

Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the sight of the RE/MAX Long Drive Championship.

The RE/MAX Long Drive Championship begins Oct. 30 in Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Golfweek Senior Writer James Achenbach explains five myths about long driving.

1. Timing is just as important as speed when hitting long drives.

No way. Clubhead speed and ball speed are at the top of the priority list for components of long driving. As two-time World Long Drive champion Art Sellinger is fond of saying, “It’s all about how fast you can move the stick.” Speed dictates timing, or tempo. See John Novosel’s revolutionary book, 'Tour Tempo.'

2. Long drivers keep their heads steady during the swing.

Are you kidding me? Long drivers tend to move their heads fairly dramatically off the ball. Most appear to load up on their back side and swing with a fierce upward motion. Thus they generally tee the ball very high off the ground.

3. The 48-inch driver limit is the same for long drivers as it is for ordinary golfers.

Long drivers have a 48-inch limit, all right, but it’s a different method of measurement. Long Drivers of America, the umbrella organization for long driving, endorses a measurement in which a driver is positioned vertically against a wall. As a result, 48 inches on the LDA scale is about 49.5 inches when measured on the USGA’s horizontal scale.

4. Long drivers wear old-fashioned metal spikes to avoid slipping.

Spikes made of plastic or composite material seem to be here to stay. Of the eight finalists in the World Long Drive, only one, Jamie Sadlowski, has been wearing metal spikes during warmup sessions for the finals. On the PGA Tour, by the way, only about 20 percent of the players still wear metal spikes.

5. The RE/MAX Open Division world champion can make a million dollars (in appearance fees and endorsements) in the year following his victory.

“I don’t think so,” said Sellinger, who serves as an agent for several long drivers. “Maybe, but it would be difficult.” Many world champions, seeking to maximize their income, have exhausted themselves with 70, 80 or more appearances a year. “Try to do too much, and you pay the price,” said former Open Division and Senior Division champion David Mobley. “You wake up one morning, and you’re no longer the world champion.”

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