Most of the golfing world has been marveling over the immense power shown by PGA Tour professional Bryson DeChambeau off the tee. The 2020 U.S. Open champion has chopped up many golf courses with monster drives, averaging 330 yards in length over the past couple seasons.
He made news recently when he accepted an invitation to compete Sept. 28 – Oct. 1 at the Professional Long Drive Association’s World Championships in Mesquite, Nev. DeChambeau and others will vie for the $50,000 first place check. In the same open division group teeing it up on Tuesday with the Clovis, Cal., native will be Aaron Hoffman.
Hoffman is a 2008 graduate of Elk Grove High School and now one of the top long drivers in the country. He’s been competing in PLDA events only about two years, going pro a little more than a year ago. That’s all thanks to some encouragement from his father, Pat, during a round of golf at Apple Mountain.
“I hit a seven-iron about 265 yards,” he explained. “It was a par-three and I hit the top of the trees behind the green. I said, ‘Well, that wasn’t the right club.’ My dad said, ‘Let’s try long driving because you hit a seven-iron over the trees behind that green.’”
Quickly, Hoffman got registered into a long-drive event and placed second in his first tournament in 2019. He ended up placing second last year in the amateur division at the World Championships behind a good friend, Scottie Pearman, and that was enough for Hoffman to decide to go professional.
And, in long driving, a 330-yarder-which is long for the PGA Tour-can seem like a chip shot. Many times during long-drive competition guys whale away on the ball, flying it in excess of 400, and yes, if the wind and altitude is right, 500 yards.
At 6-3, 195 pounds, Hoffman has often topped the 400-yard mark in competition. His best has been 434 yards at an event in Colorado.
“We’re going to Nevada and we’ll be at about 3000 (feet in elevation),” he said. “The last time I was there I hit one 406 (yards).”
Believe or not, accuracy of the shot is still needed. Competitors have a fairly narrow 50-yard gap in which to land the ball.
The balls Hoffman and the other PLDA competitors use are basically the same ones approved by the USGA for use on PGA-type tournaments.
“I use a two-piece by Top Flight called ‘Top Flight Bombs’ which do pretty well in holding up to our real high-velocity swings without blowing up too often,” Hoffman said.
Plus, most long-drivers use a USGA-allowed maximum shaft of 48 inches.
And, to face off in person against perhaps the world’s most recognizable golfer today in DeChambeau, Hoffman calls it, “a blessing.”
“I know he is a bit outlandish but to share a tee box with his caliber of player from the PGA Tour who is going to bring us a little bit of a revive – he’s bringing attention to our sport by doing this move – and I happen to be in his group when this happens, it’s a blessing,” he said.