Learn About the Longest Drive Ever On a Golf Course

The Story of the 787-Yard (Really!) Drive in the 1992 Texas Open

Carl Cooper during the 1992 Los Angeles Open
Carl Cooper (pictured in 1992) hit the longest golf drive known on the PGA Tour. Ken Levine/Getty Images

What's the longest drive ever hit on the PGA Tour? Davis Love III once hit a measured drive of 476 yards. In recent years, the season-ending leaders in the PGA Tour's long-drive stat category have blasted drives of 463 yards, 450 yards, 467 yards and 428 yards, among others.

But what if I told you that a PGA Tour golfer, playing in a tour event, once hit a drive that went 787 yards — more than 300 yards farther than Love's whopper? And he did it with a primitive (by today's standards) metal driver and wound golf ball? Would you believe it?

You should: It's a true story, even if the Guinness Book of World Records cites a different drive as the longest ever hit in competition (a 515-yard drive hit by Mike Austin in a qualifying tournament for the 1974 U.S. Senior National Open Qualifier).

And you should believe it even though the PGA Tour itself doesn't include the 787-yard drive on its list of longest-ever drives.

What gives? Here's a look at the longest drive ever known in a tour competition (PGA Tour or otherwise), plus the reasons why Guinness and the PGA Tour don't cite it in their record books. We'll also learn more about the golfer who hit the gargantuan blast.

Carl Cooper, the Golfer Behind the Longest Drive in Tour History

Carl Cooper pictured during the 1992 Los Angeles Open.
Ken Levine/Getty Images

Iit's a true story, but as you've probably guessed, it took a lot of curious bounces and some good luck (or bad luck, if what you care about is your score) for that 787-yard drive to happen.

The golfer was Carl Cooper, who at the time was a 31-year-old journeyman. The tournament was the 1992 Texas Open, played that year at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio.

Interestingly, Cooper's drive is not included on the PGA Tour's official "longest drive" list for 1992; the recognized leader was a 308-yard drive by John Daly — one of only two drives in 1992 officially measured at more than 300 yards. Which tells you all you need to know about the explosion in distance since then.

(The reason Cooper's drive isn't included in the 1992 stats is that the PGA Tour's driving stats at that time were compiled using only two designated holes per round. Plus, Cooper's mammoth drive, for reasons we'll see, couldn't be properly measured anyway.)

But back to Cooper's drive: On the par-4, 456-yard third hole, in the second round, Cooper launched his drive at the 1992 Texas Open. On the fly, the ball hit a downward-running concrete cart path and took off.

The ball rolled past the fifth green. Then it passed the sixth tee. It eventually left the cart path and veered onto an unpaved maintenance road. And finally it came to a stop behind the No. 12 green.

"It kept bouncing and bouncing and bouncing," Cooper told the Houston Chronicle newspaper in a 2007 article. "If you and I were playing, we'd never have found the ball. But because it was a tournament, a marshal found the ball."

Everyone on site agreed it was a minimum of 750 yards from the No. 3 tee box; some thought it was more than 800. The figure of 787 yards is the one most cited because that's the yardage that was determined by Cooper's caddie.

Where the ball was sitting, Cooper had around 300 yards just to get back to the correct green. He hit a 4-iron, then an 8-iron, then a chip shot to get back to the No. 3 green. He wound up with a double bogey. (Cooper missed the cut in the tournament.)

Daly led the PGA Tour in driving average in 1992 with a mark of 283.4 yards. Cooper was in 12th place at 272.1 yards.

But Carl Cooper is the guy who goes down in history with an estimated 787-yard drive during a PGA Tour event.

What Happened to Cooper?

Golfer Carl Cooper in 2016 at the Senior PGA Championship
Carl Cooper playing the 2016 Senior PGA Championship. Jeff Curry/Getty Images

Cooper was a talented golfer: He was a PGA Tour member, after all. He played college golf at the University of Houston at a time when UH was one of the all-time best college golf programs. (Cooper's teammates during his time with the Cougars included future major championship winners Fred Couples and Steve Elkington.)

Cooper was able to maintain PGA Tour status from 1990-93 before losing his card. His best PGA Tour tournament finish was 11th place. Cooper played some on the Web.com Tour in the 1990s, but eventually settled into club and teaching positions in the Houston area.

He still plays tournaments today, PGA sectional and regional events. And through PGA of America events he sometimes qualifies for bigger tournaments. For example, Cooper's performance in the PGA's national senior club professional championship earned him a spot in the 2016 Senior PGA Championship, and he made the cut.