AGC: Michael, thanks for talking some time to talk with us today and congrats on your World Record. What made you come up with the idea to break this world record?
Michael: Thanks for having me. Everything got started because of my involvement in Caddie Club. As the Caddie Master, I’m responsible for training and recruiting caddies, and helping organize and run events. Our organization provides professional caddies to many tournaments that take place around Dallas, and we work with a number of charities like a Wish with Wings, Special Olympics, and Make a Wish. During tournaments, I would set up on one of the holes and hit an 8 ft. driver off the tee for donations to the charities. It would always get a good response; it was just kind of a quirky thing that people would gravitate to.
AGC: How far would you hit the 8 ft. driver?
Michael: I could actually hit it pretty well – it would usually go out there about 270-280.
AGC: So what made you decide to break this particular record? Were there any others you considered breaking, or are planning to break in the future?
Michael: I figured we were doing something pretty unique with an 8 ft. driver so I wanted to see how it might measure up. Turns out, there are over 100 Guinness records relating to golf. I looked at every single one of them, and came to the conclusion that hitting the longest shot with the longest usable club was the only one I would have a shot at breaking.
AGC: Once you decide you want to break a record, what is the process like?
Michael: The process is pretty similar to getting hired for a job. You basically send in an application and a cover letter explaining yourself and why you’re capable of breaking a record. You have to have some credibility from past experiences as to why it’s realistic for you to attempt to break a current record. From there, they give you the go ahead to start testing until they approve your application, at which point you have the green light to try and break the record. Overall, it’s about a 2-to-12 month process.
During the approval process, we constructed the 14 foot club and practiced hitting it. I only hit it in two sessions prior to the attempt because of the time it takes to take apart and put back together. I got myself on video so I could analyze my swing. We then made plans to head to Hank Haney’s facility so I could get on the Trackman. The day before we went out there, Guinness approved the application, so we just went for the record then.
AGC: How far did the ball wind up traveling?
Michael: The best one we recorded carried 146, rolled to 173. But I hit a couple that didn’t register that I think actually went farther. Guinness only recognizes the carry distance of the shot, so the roll doesn’t really matter.
AGC: And what was the previous record?
Michael: It was held by Karsten Moss, who hit it 134 yards with a 13 foot, 5 inch driver. He actually left a really nice comment on the YouTube video congratulating me. He’s a really nice guy.
AGC: Tell us a bit about how you made the club.
Michael: We used the same process you would use to lengthen any golf club. We just did it over and over. We added 10 inch extenders to the grip end of the shaft and just kept adding them till the club was long enough. We used apoxy to hold it together, and the shaft comes apart into two different 7 foot pieces for storage and travel.
The shaft is steel and the head is made by Top Flite – it’s the same one I used with the 8 ft. driver. Overall, I’d guess it weighs about 5-6 lbs, but it feels like 25 when you swing it. I tell people it’s like swinging a bowling ball on a garden hose.
AGC: Now that you’re the champ, you’ve gotten quite a bit of attention – people might be gunning for your title. Do you plan on defending your record or improving it?
Michael: Definitely, it’s mine and I plan on keeping it. It’s funny, because I’ve gotten a lot of comments about how it’s stupid or whatever, but it doesn’t really bother me. I don’t feed into the negativity. At the end of the day, this didn’t happen because I wanted attention. It came as a result of raising money for charity, and that’s where the focus will continue to be as we promote this. I’ve probably made four times as much money for charity throughout my life than I’ve made for myself, and I’m very proud of that.
Additionally, we’re looking at improving on this record. We’re looking at different materials in the shaft to make it lighter. With a club at this length, if we can improve the ball speed by 1 mph, we’ll get an extra 10 feet.
AGC: What are the next steps for you?
Michael: We want to be able to use this as a platform to raise money at tournaments and continue to explore ways to improve the record. We just want Caddie Club to be able to help as many people as possible, and we’re very fortunate to have something like the 14 ft. driver to help grab peoples attention and help them understand our cause.