Most golfers are looking to add more distance to their game. It’s what keeps many golfers practicing on the driving range and purchasing the newest and greatest clubs.
Distances in golf are usually measured in yardage, so let’s take a look at how far golfers hit the ball compared to other sports and some well-known distances.
Football stadiums are gigantic and the fields themselves can seem immense in person and on camera. No quarterback has ever been capable of throwing endzone to endzone. Baker Mayfield potentially holds the record for the longest NFL pass attempt by throwing over 70 yards in 2020. Watching a video of the throw, makes it seem astoundingly far.
However, at just over 70 yards, your average male golfer would only need a lob wedge to hit that distance [source]. An average men’s golfer would also only need a pitching wedge to hit the full 100-yard distance of a football field [source]. Meanwhile, a PGA Tour player could easily strike a ball through both goal posts (over 120 yards) with just their pitching wedge alone.
On the surface, baseball seems like a much more apt comparison to golf. The high-velocity pitching, small ball size, and use of a bat mean that baseballs travel much farther than the “old pigskin”. While the exact longest home run is probably impossible to know, the farthest in-game home run of the modern stat cast era belongs to Nomar Mazara and Trevor Story who have both hit 505 foot home runs.
A 505 foot home run is an absolute monster of a hit. A home run like that is hitting the second or even third level of seating in a stadium. However, 505 feet is roughly 168 yards. The average PGA Tour player could hit that distance with a 9-iron from home plate and some could even do it with a pitching wedge [source].
Soccer fields are well known to be larger than American football fields. It is also more common for players to be able to consistently kick the ball across the length of the field. The Guinness World Records currently recognizes the longest football goal as being set by goalie Thomas King at 96.01 meters. This record equates to 105 yards, which is certainly no small feat.
Compared to golfers 105 yards is a small distance. An average LPGA Tour player could hit well past that using nothing but a pitching wedge [source]. Likewise, regulations cap soccer fields at 130 yards in length. LPGA Tour players can consistently hit those distances using a 9-iron [source].
When it was launched in May 1911, the RMS was the largest ship ever built. The massive vessel was 882 feet and 9 inches in length and had a gross tonnage of 46,328 [source]. The ship’s length can be converted to 294 yards. This is nearly three football fields in length. However, even this impressive size is less than PGA Tour players can drive a golf ball [source]. On the PGA Tour, players regularly exceed 294 yards off the tee.
The Empire State Building
The Empire State was the world’s tallest building for almost 40 years after its completion [source]. The building looms a gigantic 1,454 feet from the city street to the tip of its spire. This breaks down to 484 yards in length. Nonetheless, this huge distance is not impervious to golfers. Long Drive competitors such as Kyle Berkshire have recorded golf shots surpassing this 484-yard benchmark [source].
The explanation for how golfers hit the ball so far is relatively simple. Golf balls are small and very aerodynamic or “slippery” in the air. Paired with well-engineered golf clubs with long shafts, a golfer can transfer massive amounts of energy into a golf ball.
Why do golf courses not seem as far as other distances mentioned? It is hard to mentally equate a stadium with a long rolling golf course. Holes like the 16th Hole at TPC Scottsdale provide some insight. This stadium-style golf hole is considered quite short at only 163 yards in length.
However, the stadium seating makes it apparent how stretched and elongated it is compared to traditional football or baseball stadiums. Golf holes can regularly be over twice this distance. Knowing this, it becomes easier to wrap your head around.
The point of this article is not to diminish the achievements of other sports. It is simply to give a better understanding of the magnitude of distances that golfers are capable of hitting. Perhaps next time you miss a drive off a tee give yourself some credit, that very well may have been a home run…