Golf fans might see something they've never seen before on the PGA Tour this week (other than a player who has never won on the PGA Tour before winning the Tournament of Champions as Scottie Scheffler and Abraham Ancer are poised to do). They might see a 500-yard drive from the biggest hitter and fastest swinger in the game.
Bryson DeChambeau's entire game is built around swing speed and distance. He said this week that he wants to reach 210 MPH ball speed at some point in his career, which is a laugh-out-loud number (that he will probably reach). The current fastest ball speed ever recorded on the PGA Tour belongs to DeChambeau from earlier this season at 199.55 MPH.
To be clear, Bryson has reached 200 MPH when hitting balls into a net at his home (or Chris Como's living room), but he has not done so when being measured during a competitive PGA Tour round. It seems like every day over the holidays when I hopped on YouTube, though, there was a new video of one of the five best golfers in the world agonizing over how to gain 1% more speed.
This came to a head during a YouTube episode where DeChambeau was filmed dancing in a onesie behind a net where long drive champion Kyle Berkshire -- who DeChambeau said he has learned a lot from -- was absolutely obliterating drives. The reigning U.S. Open champ dancing in a Christmas onesie while trying to unlock long drive secrets. It's a preposterous statement, but I watched it happen with my own eyes three weeks ago.
Anyway, depending on the conditions in Hawaii, DeChambeau may be able to get into the 200s with his swing speed, and that means he could hit a 500-yard drive at one of the longest, widest courses on the PGA Tour.
"Yesterday on the driving range I got it to 211 miles per hour ball speed," DeChambeau said this week. "That was cool."
The record for longest drive at the Plantation Course at Kapalua (and in the ShotLink era on the PGA Tour) is 476 yards by Davis Love III in 2004 on the 18th hole. Of the 11 drives of 450 yards or longer in the ShotLink era (2002-current), three have happened at the Tournament of Champions.
Longest Drives on the PGA Tour (ShotLink Era)
|Davis Love III||476||Tournament of Champions||2004|
|Jeff Sluman||473||Bob Hope Classic||2003|
|Charley Hoffman||467||Texas Open||2008|
|Dustin Johnson||463||Deutsche Bank Championship||2011|
|Justin Thomas||457||WGC-Mexico Championship||2019|
|Bubba Watson||455||U.S. Open||2019|
|David Duval||454||Bob Hope Classic||2002|
|Retief Goosen||452||Tournament of Champions||2003|
|Craig Perks||451||Buick Classic||2002|
|Phil Mickelson||450||WGC-Cadillac Championship||2013|
|Gary Woodland||450||Tournament of Champions||2012|
The 18th is not the only prime location for a potential 500-yard drive, though all three of the 450-yard (or more) drives in tournament history came on this hole at Kapalua.
However, depending on how the wind is blowing in Hawaii, DeChambeau could bring the hammer at any of the seven holes that play over 500 yards (three years ago, four of the six longest drives on the PGA Tour came on the 7th hole at Kapalua). Of course, the easiest of these are the ones that are sloped downhill, like the 18th. He likely can't carry the ball past 400 yards so he'll need both help from the wind and a lot of rollout after the ball lands, which means he'll need the ground to be pretty firm.
"If it happens, great, if it doesn't because of the conditions being a little softer, it is what it is," he said. "But yes, I will be doing my best to hit some bombs out there."
Who knows how this will play out, but you know DeChambeau definitely wants to hit one 500 yards, which means he could unload on something if he's a bit out of contention come the weekend. Throw in a healthy wind, and we could see some records fall in the first event of 2021.