GOLF INSTRUCTORS stress the importance of laying up for the shot to the green in the comfort zone — comfortable distance, comfortable club — and William Hinson heeds that advice.
His choice of club is his 8 iron. His choice of distance is 185 yards.
That’s right — 8 iron, 185 yards.
That’s territory reserved for the few, golfers like Hinson with a swing speed that defies reason and puts him in an echelon reserved for elite in long-drive competition. He’s 18 and a senior at Blythewood High.
Hinson recently signed on again for a spot on the Callaway X-Hot Long Drive team, a deal that gives him the opportunity to have his equipment produced at Callaway’s performance center. The same personnel and technology that make Phil Mickelson’s clubs will work their magic on Hinson’s.
“That’s pretty cool,” Hinson said. “I’m extremely lucky to have that opportunity.”
Maybe the equipment company is lucky to have Hinson. He has a long drive in competition of 418 yards. He turned pro in the summer of 2012, has qualified for the long-drive world championship in both of his professional years, and became the youngest player, at 17, to win a long-drive event.
He has not competed since the world championships in October, but he has not been idle. In addition to school and family responsibilities, he is working on strength and conditioning, spends time with his instructors that include USC director of golf Puggy Blackmon, and hopes to find more distance.
“Just a few extra yards mean everything in long drive,” says Robbie Biershenk of Greenville, who has made the world championships multiple times.
His next appearance will be at the PGA Merchandise Show this month in Orlando, and his competition schedule will be similar to past years.
In pondering his future, he sets “small goals that are reachable with hard work” and, of course, the ultimate would be to win the world championship.
Meanwhile, “I enjoy (regular) golf as much as long-drive,” Hinson said. “All of our family plays, and I look forward to playing with them. I wouldn’t be where I am without them and their support. But it’s a different mindset between long-drive and playing a course.”
Given his distance off the tee, he could perhaps drive the green on many par-4s — if he controlled the direction. But he said, “I play the course the way it’s designed.”
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The CGA will present a series of rules seminars in March with six scheduled in South Carolina: March 3 at Woodside Plantation, Aiken; March 11, Port Royal GC, Hilton Head Island; March 11, Holly Tree CC, Simpsonville; March 12, Westcott GC, Summerville; March 13, Forest Lake Club, Columbia; and March 18, Members Club at Grande Dunes, Myrtle Beach. For information, call the CGA at 910-673-1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The seminars, from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., are free, but pre-registration at www.carolinasgolf.org is encouraged.