Mike Gorton Has a Powerful Swing That Has Stood the Test of Time
Mike Gorton is one of the legends of long drive with a storied career that has spanned 36 years. He grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. He began playing golf at 7 and played for his High School team as well as the Santa Barbara City College’s golf team for two years while earning his degree in Political Science. His father owned a Wholesale Plumbing Supply store so he worked in the family business.
He had achieved a scratch handicap by the age of 22 and set a goal of playing professionally. But at the age of 28 he was still an amateur when he tried to qualify for the 1982 National Long Drive Championship. During the 1st stage of qualifying for the event at Riverside, CA he befriended Mike Dunaway who was impressed with the amateur’s smooth and powerful swing. The two competitors advanced through local and regional qualifying together and onto the National Final that year which was held at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Dunaway invited Gorton to the 350 Club event at Lake Tahoe. Gorton won the event, beating 6 hitters who are now in the Hall of Fame and decided to turn pro in order to be able to accept the $5,000 first prize check. He decided to give himself four years to prove to himself that he had the game to be a touring professional. He got pretty close but never quite made it over the hump. Dunaway guided his career toward long drive as Gorton was now a full-fledge member of the storied 350 Club.
He would go on to win five world titles and be elected to the LDA Hall of Fame. His accomplishments include winning the 1987 National Long Drive Championship (which became the World Long Drive Championship), a Senior Division title in 2000, back-to-back Super Senior titles in 2007 and 2008, and a Champions Division title in 2014 at the age of 60. His combined five titles places him in elite company with Bobby Wilson (5) trailing only Jason Zuback (6) for the all-time lead. He is especially proud of the fact that he is the only competitor to have won Long Drive World titles in four different age divisions.
Mike’s passion for the game is virtually unrivaled. He loves to share his knowledge about the sport and what it takes to become a top long driver. He believes that the most important thing is being able to consistently make solid contact. He adds: “So many people have a misconception about long driving. They think the sport is full of bodybuilder animals who are able to hit the golf ball so far because they are so large. That’s not the way it is. You have to make solid contact and have control of your swing.”
Gorton adds that the best tip he ever received was from Mike Dunaway who told him to have just one swing thought to improve performance and reduce clutter in your head. “It may sound simple, but so many golfers use too many swing thoughts. I concentrate in one thing which typically is making a full shoulder turn. If you really concentrate, it occupies your mind.”
For the past 33 years he has worked in the golf industry including the last 22 years as a Tour Rep. He currently represents Volvik and Ogio on all major tours and attends about 30 events a year. He says that he is having even more fun now that Volvik has become the title sponsor for the Volvik World Long Drive Championship. He enjoys helping to take the competition to the next level. He adds that: “The feedback that we have received from players is that the different colored balls are easier to see and that they make it easier for approximate yardage to be quickly relayed to the competitor making the competition more fun.”
As a competitor, Mike Gorton was known for his very smooth and rhythmical golf swing. Always long off the tee he achieved a scratch handicap at the age of 22 and has maintained it for over 40 years. In fact, at the age of 59 he was a +4 handicap. Amazingly he also won world long drive titles 27 years apart and in four age groups. For Gorton, golf truly has been a sport of a lifetime and his powerful swing has certainly withstood the test of time.