Mike Dunaway | “The Best Golf Swing In The History Of Long Driving.”
Mike Dunaway was a true legend of Long Drive. He possessed the rare combination of supreme athletic ability and was equally adept at promoting the sport. His visionary leadership and pioneering efforts gave rise to what would become the Long Drive Tour.
He was born on February 1, 1955, in Conway, Arkansas. As a teenager golf played second fiddle to football where he was a star linebacker. He went onto to play football for the University of Central Arkansas. But on the first play of the first game of his junior year, he suffered a serious back injury that forced him quit football. The injury would require a series of cortisone shots up and down his spine and left his right hip numb for decades.
Following graduation, he turned to golf and qualified to play in the 1976 Las Vegas Invitational. At that event, his clubhead speed was measured at 131 mph, which set an unofficial world record at the time. He then began working with his mentor, Dr. Mike Austin. That was also the first year that the World Long Drive Championship was being held in conjunction with the PGA Championship.
Mike Austin was well-known in professional golf for his prodigious length of the tee and as a legendary instructor. One such drive occurred during the U.S. National Senior Tournament when he drove the ball 65 yards OVER a 450 yard par 4. That 515 yard drive was long considered the longest drive in the history of golf. What makes it even more remarkable is that it was made with a persimmon driver that had ten degrees of loft, an extra-stiff steel shaft, and he was using a balata ball. Perhaps the most amazing fact of all, was that he was 64 years old at the time.
Once Austin and Dunaway began working together they became like brothers and for over twenty years they had a lot of fun together. Dunaway called his mentor the most knowledgeable golf instructor in the world. What made Austin special as instructor was that he held a doctorate in kinesiology. Using that knowledge, the two of them worked together to try and create as biomechanically perfect a golf swing as possible. Many people consider Dunaway’s swing to be Mike Austin’s masterpiece.
In an interview in 2014, Dunaway said, “During that time, I was as good as anybody. There were six or seven guys that could win. I think I can drive the ball, ball for ball combining distance and accuracy, as well as anyone who has ever done it.” And he was not alone in his assessment, Greg Norman said, “He is the longest living human on Earth.” And legendary golf analyst Ken Venturi said that, “Dunaway’s swing combines power and accuracy with a driver better than anyone I have ever seen.”
Dunaway’s true genius was promoting long drive. According to Art Sellinger, LDA, Chief Executive Director, “I give full credit to Mike, for being a true pioneer in the promotion of long drive. His creation of the 350 club, long drive celebrity pro-ams and worldwide appearances and events paved the way for many future long drivers success.” Three time World Long Drive Champion Sean “The Beast” Fister added, “Mike Dunaway made Long Driving cool.”
Dunaway loved publicity stunts and was the first to drive golf balls from the rooftops of the Caesars Palace and the Dunes hotels. But his greatest stroke of marketing genius was for the cover of Golf Magazine when he stood on top of a pile of money and offered $10,000 to anyone that could drive a golf ball farther than him. The issue still holds the magazine’s all-time record for the most issues sold at the newsstand. He was also on the cover of Golf Digest in August of 1985 and in November of 1987.
Ely Callaway considered Dunaway the best teacher on the Callaway staff. And as such, he was asked to be in on the ground floor of the developing and promoting Callaway’s Big Bertha driver. Dunaway said that, “It was one of the most rewarding accomplishment of my career. The Big Bertha testing changed the game of golf.”
The LDA proudly presented him with their 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the tremendous contributions that he made to the sport. Unfortunately, less than a year later, complications arose from his lengthy battle with diabetes and he died on September 29th, 2014 at the age of 59.
When someone dies they hope that their memory will live in the hearts and minds of the people they have touched. Among Mike Dunaway’s lasting legacy are the Long Drive Tour and the way in which exhibitions are performed. Generations to come will be able to read about the Mike Austin power swing in his book Hit It Hard; they can visit www.dunawaylong.com and www.windandsling.com and watch the tremendous DVD series available on the power swing. The website and the revenues generated from it are also a legacy he left for his four daughters. Through these archives, Mike Dunaway’s swing will live on as “The Best Golf Swing In The History Of Long Driving.”
Here are just a few quotes about Mike’s amazing golf swing:
- “He is the longest living human on Earth.”– Greg Norman
- “Mike Dunaway has the purest swing of all the long-drives I have ever seen.” – Davis Love
- “Mike Dunaway has the best golf swing in the history of long driving.” – Art Sellinger, 2 time NLDC president of long drivers of America
- “If Iron-Byron breaks down, they can replace it with Mike Dunaway.” – Tommy Aaron
- “Combines power and accuracy with a driver better than anyone I have ever seen.”– Ken Venturi
- “Two guys back home can hit it past me – Mike Dunaway and Bobby Wilson.” – John Daly
- “Mike Dunaway’s presentation of the golf swing on DVD is the best I have ever seen”– Tiger Wood’s author, John Andrisani
- “There is no reason to doubt that he is indeed the longest driver in golf.”– George Pepper (Editor of Golf Mag.)
By Rich O’Brien
My training in sport psychology and exercise science made it natural for me to study biomechanics. The Mike Austin and Mike Dunaway swing became a major part of my teaching.