Who Has the Longest Drive on the PGA Tour?

Golf Ball Flying Over Blurred CourseIn the world of golf, there is an extent to which the American game has become much more about being able to hit the ball the furthest than it is about being accurate with your shots. When golfers take on British courses, which are typically links-style offerings, it is crucial to do what you can in order to avoid the rough, such is the extent to which landing in there can completely ruin your round. As a result, the American golfers that do best in the likes of the Open Championship are often those that are accurate with their irons and know how to keep the ball on the fairway.

Whilst there are some courses in the United States of America that will punish wayward shots, the reality is that they are a lot more forgiving than their British counterparts. As a result, American golfers tend to go big from the tee, looking to get the ball as close to the hole as they can before introducing their wedges and putting. Courses are set up to allow the big-hitting golfers to do well, which means that those that aren’t so strong with their driver can end up struggling. Those that can mix big drives with accuracy with the wedges and strong putting can add silverware to their cabinet on a regular basis.

Quick Answer: Which Golfer Has the Longest Drive on the PGA Tour?

In the 2022-23 PGA Tour season, Luke List recorded the longest drive when hitting 459 yards at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua.

The longest drive on the PGA Tour between 2000 and 2023 was hit by Davis Love III in 2004, driving 476 yards, also at the Plantation Course at Kapalua.

The player with the longest average drive, using data from 2022, was Cameron Champ at 321.4 yards. The next best golfer was Rory McIlroy at 320.4 yards followed by Jon Rahm at 319.4 yards.

Looking At The Drivers

For those interested in the longest drivers, the good news is that the PGA Tour website keeps records of who has hit the ball the furthest during the season. For 2022-2023, for example, the tour average longest drive was 359 yards, with 382 players hitting it further than that. Obviously we’re not going to list everyone, but here is a look at the top ten drives for that season, including the competition that they hit it in:

Longest Drives on the 2022-23 PGA Tour

Golfer Distance Tournament Course
Luke List 459 Yards Sentry Tournament of Champions Plantation Course at Kapalua
Ryan Brehm 455 Yards Sentry Tournament of Champions Plantation Course at Kapalua
Scottie Scheffler 451 Yards Sentry Tournament of Champions Plantation Course at Kapalua
J.J. Spaun 446 Yards Sentry Tournament of Champions Plantation Course at Kapalua
Aaron Wise 439 Yards Sentry Tournament of Champions Plantation Course at Kapalua
Scott Stallings 435 Yards Sentry Tournament of Champions Plantation Course at Kapalua
Justin Thomas 429 Yards Genesis Scottish Open The Renaissance Club
Rory McIlroy 428 Yards Genesis Scottish Open The Renaissance Club
Sungjae Im 427 Yards Sentry Tournament of Champions Plantation Course at Kapalua
Tapio Pulkkanen 425 Yards Genesis Scottish Open The Renaissance Club
Gordon Sargent 425 Yards John Deere Classic TPC Deere Run

The Reason Behind Big Drives

Plantation Course at Kapalua Scorecard Map

Plantation Course at Kapalua Scorecard Map by Dan Perry, flickr

As you can see from the above table, most of the biggest hitters came during the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which is played on the Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Held during the first week of January, it is the opening competition of the PGA Tour and has been won by golfers such as John Rahm, Justin Thomas and Ernie Els over the years. The nature of the course is such that is it sees more long drives than any other tournament, with 340 drives of more than 400 yards being hit there between 2003 and the end of the 2022 competition.

The question, of course, is why it is that the competition sees so many big hits from the players. The answer comes in the form of the nature of the course. There is a drop of more than 400 feet from the 17th tee to the green of the 1st. That is the biggest elevation change of any PGA venue, with the majority of par 4s and 5s seeing that elevation change being downhill. When conditions at the course are firm, a long drive can become even longer when the ball starts rolling and doesn’t stop for ages. Ironically, the sloping nature of the fairways mean that players will often hit them but struggle to stay on them.

There are numerous things that can lead to golfers hitting long drives. Obviously the geography of the course that they’re playing on makes a big difference, with the weather also being important. It rained a lot in 2022, so only eight drives made it past the 400-yard mark in the Tournament of Champions, when compared to the average of 17.5. That is because rain makes the course damper, which stops players from being able to benefit from the ball rolling on a drier course. There have also been numerous changes to the technology used in clubs that also makes a difference.

There are several alterations to your swing that can be made in order to benefit from longer drives, including swinging faster and working on a shaft lean. Pros such as Justin Thomas and Phil Mickelson will use the ground to give them more power, whilst they can also upgrade their equipment on a more regular basis than normal golfers. As professionals, of course, they get to use their time to work with trainers in order to work out in the gym in a way that means that their body is more finely tuned for getting the most out of their drives. All told, professionals know how to get the most out of their golf swing and hit it further as a result.

Longest Drives In PGA History

Wireframe Golf Ball on TeeIn 1983, the PGA Tour introduced an electronic scoreboard that provided information on-site at various Tour events. The scoreboards were supported by proprietary data collection devices and a pair of mini-computers. In 1987 this system was upgraded, at which point a wireless device was added to collect data and official record keeping was added to the system. Five years later and the system was extended to include a complete scoring system, rather than just the scoreboards. In 1999, things changed again, this time seeing the old system replaced with what was known as ShotLink.

ShotLink continued to evolve with each passing year, becoming a world-class scoring system that uses mapping of each golf course in order to provide a backdrop to the data being collected. It is operated by a small staff of PGA Tour professionals alongside volunteers, with as many as 10,000 people working on it each year. In the ShotLink era, we can look at the longest drives that have been hit in order to get a sense of which golfers boast the best hits in terms of distance, even if we don’t get to find out much about the accuracy. There are also some hits that haven’t been counted for one reason or another.

We know, for example, that Mike Austin hit a shot 515 yards at the National Seniors Open Championship in 1974, but the course was 2,000 feet above sea level and had some help from the wind. In 1992, the Texas Open saw a drive of 787-yards by Carl Cooper, which went so far that it ended up behind the 12th green and he was playing the third. The 2022 Mercedes Championship had a drive of 498 yards from Tiger Woods that was recorded by ShotLink, but was scrubbed from the record books, along with numerous other strikes, by the PGA for unknown reasons.

At the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, Dustin Johnson hit the ball 498 yards off the tee but the Match Play event doesn’t count towards the official records, so it won’t feature here. Instead, the below information is based on the ShotLink era from 2000 onwards, with only official events and recorded drives being included in the list. We will tell you who hit it, where they were when they hit it, what year it was and, of course, how far the ball travelled:

Longest Drives on the PGA Tour – 2000 to 2023

Player Distance Course Year
Davis Love III 476 Yards Plantation Course at Kapalua 2004
Jeff Sluman 473 Yards PGA West (Palmer) 2003
Charley Hoffman 467 Yards LaCantera Golf Course (Resort) 2009
Dustin Johnson 464 Yards TPC Boston 2011
Scot Stallings 460 Yards TPC Scottsdale 2022
Luke List 459 Yards Plantation Course at Kapalua 2023
Justin Thomas 457 Yards Club de Golf Chapultepec 2019
Ryan Brehm 455 Yards Plantation Course at Kapalua 2023
Bubba Watson 455 Yards Pebble Beach 2019
David Duval 454 Yards PGA West (Palmer) 2002
Retief Goosen 452 Yards Plantation Course at Kapalua 2003
Scottie Scheffler 451 Yards Plantation Course at Kapalua 2023
Craig Perks 451 Yards Westchester Golf Course 2002
Gary Woodland 450 Yards Plantation Course at Kapalua 2012
Phil Mickelson 450 Yards TPC Blue Monster at Doral 2013
Craig Perks 449 Yards TPC Scottsdale 2002

Averages Or One-Time Hits?

An interesting philosophical discussion that you could have around the longest drives on the PGA Tour is whether we should be looking at one-time hit or the average that a golfer can manage. We know that a course like the Plantation Course at Kapalua is set up in order to get long hits from golfers, so is it really fair that someone hitting the ball on a dry day with the wind behind them on a hole that drops in elevation between the tee and the green is going to have their drive counted when someone hitting it, say, 20 yards less on a regular basis isn’t going to?

Obviously it is a matter of some debate, but there is no question that the average hit of a golfer is a fairer reflection of their ability to hit the ball a long distance without having to rely on circumstances to get them to see the ball fly off down the fairway. The longest drive that players can hit on average is likely to change from year to year, based on changes to the likes of the technology used for the making of golf clubs that we mentioned earlier. Regardless, here is a look at the golfers that boasted the longest drives on average on the PGA Tour in 2022:

Chart That Shows the Players with the Longest Average Drives on the PGA Tour in 2022

Those of you that only have a passing interest in golf will no doubt struggle to recognise some of the names on the list. Whilst the likes of Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm will be known to most, names such as Brandon Hagy and Trey Mullinax will probably be harder to place. That is, perhaps, an indication that hitting the ball long isn’t in and of itself an indication of a golfer who wins many tournaments. Even so, there is no question that their ability with the golf ball off the tee allows them to be part of the conversation, especially when you consider that that is their average hit.

That means that they will be hitting it longer than that at times, suggesting a degree of consistency across the year. Is that more impressive and noteworthy than a golfer who has been able to hit a long drive once when the circumstances were all in their favour? On the one hand, you’d certainly think so, but on the other it is worth bearing in mind that that the PGA itself only looks specifically at the longest one-off hits rather than averages, so the organisation behind golf in America obviously thinks that there is something about that that makes it worthwhile.

World Long Drive Championship

Golf Ball Leaving Trail Against Black Background

Whilst we’re looking specifically at the PGA Tour, it is worth offering a quick mention for the World Long Drive Championship. It is an annual competition that has been held since 1974 and was expanded to include Open, Masters and Women’s events since 2000. The requirements of the event are that a golfer use a PGA-approved golf club that has a maximum length of 48 inches. In each round of the tournament the golfers have two minutes and 30 seconds in order to hit six golf balls as far as possible, with the ball needing to land in the ‘grid’ in order to be counted.

The ‘grid’ is an area that is between 45 and 60 yards wide and 420 to 450 yards long. The manner in which the drive from the winner has changed each year shows the way that golf clubs have changed, with the winner of the first ever iteration of the competition in 1974, Jim Dent, winning with a drive of 324 yards. In 2022, meanwhile, Martin Bormgmeier hit the ball 426 yards in order to be crowned champion. It is obviously noteworthy that Bormgmeier’s hit wouldn’t have made it into the top ten of the longest drives on the PGA Tour for that year, showing how impressive such drives really are.