A 8½ mile putt

From “Golf’s Strangest Rounds: Extraordinary but True stories from over a Century of Golf” by Andrew Ward



If a golfer putts a ball 8½ miles (13.7km) in 23 seconds, where is the golfer playing? This may sound like a question from a Golf Studies examination paper but it was one that people were asking in September 1997. The answer was ‘on a Concorde flight from New York to Malaga’. The United States Ryder Cup team were en route to Malaga, preparing to meet the Europeans at Valderrama, when they were challenged by the pilot to break the record for Concorde’s longest putt. The previous best was 100ft (30.5m).

The coaching manual suggests that you putt as slowly as possible and give Concorde the maximum amount of time to travel at 1,330mph (2,140km/h) while the ball is still rolling.

On his second attempt, Brad Faxon rolled a 120ft (36.6m) putt all the way along the centre aisle and into a porcelain tea-cup, which was lying on its side. His ball was travelling for 23 seconds. Therefore the ball must have travelled 8½ miles (plus an extra 40 yards (36.6m) for the length of the putt). You might wonder why the golfers needed some distraction. After all Concorde was only in the air for 3 hours 25 minutes. Nobody knew whether the omens were good or bad for the Ryder Cup. In fact they were not that good for Faxon. He lost two of his three matches and the United States lost by 14½ –13½.

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