World Long Drive champion Kyle Berkshire talks about the 579-yard drive

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Air traffic controllers at Palm Beach International Airport may have noticed a few blips on their radar recently, but don’t worry.

It was just World Long Drive champion Kyle Berkshire and his buddies launching some bombs 4½ miles away at Bear Lakes Country Club. Berkshire and his friends can hit it high (250 feet) and hit it high.

How long? Berkshire broke the world record last month when he hit a 579-yard drive in favorable weather conditions at Rochelle Ranch Golf Course in Rawlins, Wyoming, about two weeks before he won his third world long driving. title.

Think about that … Five hundred and seventy-nine yards, with a carry of 512. That’s twice as far as most pros can hit it and three times as far as most amateurs. Who cares if the ball is helped by a 17-22-mph tailwind with 6,700 feet of elevation (even with temperatures in the low 50s)? That’s enough to drive almost every par-5 in the US

“Oh, that’s it!” Berkshire screamed on video after his world-record drive. “That’s it!”

While having lunch at Bear Lakes’ new clubhouse last week, Berkshire reflected on that moment.

“When I caught the ball, I knew it was the hardest ball I’ve ever hit,” said Berkshire, a 27-year-old Orlando resident known for his long black hair. “It also spins enough to stay in the wind with a tail. With the wind coming from the right, I have a 10-yard wide window to take the ball into the fairway. It feels great.”

Berkshire understands that most golf fans focus on the yardage of his drives, but he and his peers use the ball speed that comes from their extended drivers as the true barometer of their talent. Berkshire set a world record with a ball speed of 241.6 mph.

When asked what was more important to him, the world record or the championship belts he received for three world titles, his answer was faster than his swing.

“As an athlete, I care about that belt more than anything,” Berkshire said. “When my career is over, I want to leave a legacy that will be the greatest. You have to have belts. Like in basketball, you need rings. If you want a belt, you have to be clutch.”

Berkshire had aspirations of one day playing on the PGA Tour when he was competing in college at North Texas, but that changed during a practice his sophomore year. A backup on the course allowed his entire team and coaches to watch as he pumped a drive 440 yards on the 17th hole. At least 70 yards passed by everyone.

“When my whole team and coach saw that, my path was pretty much set,” said Berkshire. “I have to decide if I think I can get my (PGA Tour) card or win a belt first. I feel like I can get a belt in three years, and it will take six years to get a card

It seems that he is as precise as his height: It took him three years to win his first world title. Now he is not worried about anyone else.

“Once you have the belt, you can make a very good living here,” he said, smiling.

The 2023 World Long Drive in Atlanta, where Kyle Berkshire took the title.

Berkshire made millions by being known as the guy with the long hair who hit the ball a long way. Berkshire said his bouffant happened organically.

“I went to the barbershop in early 2018, and the barber never showed up,” Berkshire said. “For a few weeks, I was playing on TV and my hair was long enough to tell the announcer Jonathan Coachman. When I heard that, I let it grow, and it became something.”

Berkshire was in Bear Lakes last week filming his ever-popular “Bombers Club” YouTube podcast with friends Billy Ray, Bobby Bradley and Karol Priscilla. In the videos, they play matches, trade barbs and hit 400-yard drives while showing a cooler, younger side of golf.

While Berkshire said he likes the Jack Nicklaus-designed Lakes and Links courses, Bombers Club members don’t mind creating their own design: One of the competitions is hitting from the 15th fairway on the Lakes Course. to the par-3 14th. It’s a 341-yard carry – into the air over the water. Berkshire won by hitting his regular length driver to 25 feet.

“I like doing the show because I can be myself,” he said. “People only see me in a serious lens when I’m competing. It allows me to show my personality.”

Kellie Stenzel, a teacher who works with Berkshire at the Bombers Club, said don’t be fooled by his image.

“It’s easy to look at him and say he’s the long-drive guy with the long hair,” said Stenzel, a resident of Palm Beach Gardens. “But when Kyle starts talking, he’s very smart and thoughtful. There is intelligence behind talent.

“And who doesn’t want to hit the ball a long way? We all dream of that.”

Berkshire admits there is more to the mental approach to his sport than most fans believe. Don’t just get hit, scream and get hit again.

“A lot of people think the long drive is just bashing the ball over and over, but there’s a skill to it,” he said. “If you both swing at the same speed and one hits it, that’s the skill of the game. That’s why the faster guy doesn’t always win. We’re not just crying that we don’t care about consistency or accuracy.”

Berkshire is friends with major champion Bryson DeChambeau and they often talk about their quest for more clubhead speed and distance. Unlike DeChambeau, Berkshire has yet to experience his dream of playing on the PGA Tour (hear that, The Classic in The Palm Beaches officials?) or Korn Ferry Tour on a sponsor exemption. Why not? We all love the high ball.

“I play mini-tour events, and I get to be with them,” Berkshire said of the pros. “I can’t break. I usually shoot in the low-70s. “

The only concern: Is there enough course?

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