Michael Hoke Austin (February 17, 1910 - November 23, 2005) was a British-American golf professional and kinesiology expert, specializing in long drives. He is credited with hitting the longest drive in tournament play (471m/515 yards) in 1974 at Winterwood Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nevada. His golf swing, known as The Mike Austin Swing, is practiced and taught by current golf professional Thomas Dang. Notable students include World Long Drive Champion Mike Dunaway, Long Drive Champion Jaacob Bowden, and Mike's friend of 25 years - golf and long drive instructor Dan Shauger. Details of his life and golf swing are included in the 2004 biography In Search of the Greatest Golf Swing by Philip Reed. Austin's last and best reviewed instructional dvd, Mike Austin: Secrets of the Game's Longest Hitter, was produced by Peace River Golf.
Austin was born on the British island of Guernsey off the coast of northern France, and served in the RAF during World War II which he suffered temporary paralysis in surviving a tropical fever after being shot down. Through personal perseverance and the practice of yoga he recovered from his paralysis.
Along with his extraordinary golf career, he also wrote poetry and performed opera for many years.
The Austin family moved from Guernsey to Scotland, then to Boston, Massachusetts. After his father suffered a severe auto accident, they moved again to Florida. There, Austin was beset by local boys for being a foreigner and a "Yankee." They lay in wait and beat him mercilessly. Austin's father, Joseph, got wind of what was happening, and sent young Mike to a boxing gym to learn to defend himself. Soon, he was wreaking havoc on his enemies. A short time later the family moved once more, to Atlanta, Georgia, and located close to the East Lake Country Club, where young Bobby Jones was often seen practicing.
At first, Austin sneaked into East Lake to hit balls. The pro there, Stewart Maiden, caught him on the grounds. But instead of banishing him, Maiden said, "You have a good swing. You can practice here as long as you don't come on the weekends." One day, Jones saw Mike driving the ball across a lake that required a 300 yard carry. He said to Austin, "How do you do that?" Austin answered, "I'm not a pro; ask Mr. Maiden -- he'll tell you."
Austin also traveled across the country performing trick shots and challenging anyone to try to outdrive him. He said he could hit a variety of shots with an ordinary set of golf clubs. No one was ever able to hit the ball farther than Austin. He told a biographer that he "lived like a maharaja." during that time.
Back in Los Angeles, Austin worked to get a PhD in kinesiology, the study of muscular movement, and eventually became a pioneer in that field. He also established a name for himself as a golf teacher and was eventually sought out by Howard Hughes for lessons. He eventually established a gym in Hollywood where he taught boxing, tennis, baseball and golf. The walls of the gym were covered with mirrors which he said sped up the learning process. When he gave lectures about golf he dressed in a tight-fitting black leotard with white outlines of the skeleton. He wanted students to see how the bones were positioned in the correct golf swing.
Several factors make this record feat especially amazing, although there was a tailwind estimated at 27-35 mph. The drive was done on level ground, using a persimmon wood driver with 10 degrees of loft and a 43.5" extra-stiff steel shaft, the ball was a soft balata and Mike Austin was 64 years old. The improved technology of today should achieve far greater distances in the same conditions.
Mike talked about setting the world record and revealed his secrets for hitting it long and straight in his video "Golf is Mental Imagery and Austinology," The videos were produced by Mike Austin, himself. Clips of Mike and his swing can be seen at http://www.mikeaustingolf.com and http://www.mikeaustinonline.com