Can Kyle Berkshire Make it on the PGA Tour?


Kyle Berkshire can confidently say he can hit a golf ball farther than anyone in the world. He has proven twice that he is the world long-drive champion, once in 2019 and again in 2021. Can he translate all of his power into being a competitive golfer on the PGA tour? He has been shifting a lot of his focus from long-drive competitions to gearing up to compete on tour. In my opinion, if Berkshire does not make some changes to his game plan and swing he won’t make it on tour.

Background on Berkshire

Kyle was a junior golfer who played well in high school and then began his collegiate career at North Texas. While at North Texas his coach noticed that Kyle had tremendous potential to be competitive at the long drive and be one of the best. Kyle decided to leave school to focus on being a long-drive competitor. This ended up being a good choice for Kyle as he took the long-drive world by storm and quickly rose to the top. The drawback is that the training and preparation for long-drive competitions don’t leave much room for putting and practicing 100-yard shots to the green. Kyle put nearly all his effort into long drive prep and he likely lost some of the skills he had built up since when he first started playing golf. He played in his first pro tournament on January 13th earlier this year at a one-day event at Fountains Country club in Lake Worth FL. Berkshire tied for 43rd in a 50-player pool.

Drive for Show, Putt for Dough?

This old saying has been debunked for the most part. Many of the leaders in the golf standings in the last few years- Dustin Johnson, Bryson Dechambeau, and Jon Rahm to name a few are right at the top of the leaderboards for driving distance however are nowhere close to being the best putters and yet still manage to win. Bryson ranked 20th for putting in the 2021 season and Dustin Johnson ranked 28th. The number one ranked golfer in the world, Jon Rahm, was ranked 42nd for putting in 2021. There is more to shooting low scores than just being a good putter.

A new game led by Bryson

No one on tour made it clearer that you can go out and shoot low scores while still making a mess of things. Bryson Dechambeau was extremely aggressive off the tee and in many of his lines often taking the risk of having to hit out of the rough or other hazards to be closer to the hole. It led to the question of whether is it better to be 130 yards from the hole and hit out of the rough or be 210 yards out but hitting off the fairway. While it didn’t always work out as planned Bryson proved that this high-risk high reward playstyle certainly could be done. Bryson earned over 5 million dollars in 2021 not counting all of his sponsorships.

If Bryson can do it, why can’t Berkshire?

I think this is what has people so intrigued who follow Kyle Berkshire. They see Bryson who has many flaws in his game, yet because of the distance he has off the tee and his iron shots he is still able to overcome his shortcomings and be a top contender on tour. As you can see in the chart below, while Bryson has some very impressive distance numbers he is no match for Berkshire. Starting at the 9 iron Berkshire is one full club ahead of Bryson and his stock drive is 360 yards vs Bryson’s 315. That is a massive difference and it is hard to even comprehend considering Bryson had the most strokes gained off the tee last year at 1.162 with Jon Rahm coming in second at .834. While 1.162 to .834 might not seem like a lot that is a massive difference between the number one and number two player for strokes gained off the tee. This again is where I think people see Kyle bombing drives over 360 yards and begin to wonder just how good he could be considering his massive advantage off the tee.

Unfortunately, Berkshire was not able to capitalize on his strengths in his first pro tournament and finished with a somewhat disappointing 76 on a par 71 course. The winner by comparison-Ben Silverman won with a 7 under 64. So if Kyle has such a massive advantage in how far he can hit the ball, how come he can not translate that into sub-70 scores?

Can you be too fast?

This is where I would like to get into my thoughts as to why Berkshire has not been able to put up consistently solid numbers and also why I think if he ever really wants to have a chance at the PGA Tour he will have to change his approach to the game and dare I say it- slow his swing speed down. I posted two videos below with the first being Berkshire and the second being multiple slow-motion swings of Bryson. Now Bryson has one of the uglier and more violent/aggressive swings on tour. However, when you compare it to Berkshire it seems downright tame. That swing of Berkshire is also him on the course playing a round not him going full bore at a long-drive competition. You see that is just how Kyle swings fast and aggressively which leads to massive yardages whether he is using a driver or a pitching wedge.

https://youtu.be/h8MeL3yFsyE

The cost of specificity training

For the last several years Berkshire has trained with the focus of one thing and one thing only- To hit the ball as far as possible. The human body will adapt to the stresses applied to it. Long-distance runners over time will build up their stores of oxygen-rich red blood cells and their muscles will slowly shift from the explosive fast-twitch muscle fibers to the slower longer-lasting slow-twitch muscle fibers. Conversely, Olympic weight-lifters will have just about the opposite effect with their training being focused on events lasting often 5 seconds or less- Their bodies will become very efficient at fast-twitch explosive events relying mostly on the anaerobic energy system. How you train affects your body in just about every way and how one trains for one sport can have a drastically different effect on his or her body compared with a different sport. Below is a good case in point with the left a picture of Lu Xiaojun who is one of the top Chinese Olympic weight-lifters being a two-time Olympic champion and 5-time world champion. On the right is a picture of Eliud Kipchoge who is one of if not the most dominant marathon runners today.

While it might not look like it when you compare Kyle Berkshire to some of the other golfers on the PGA tour I can guarantee you that under the hood their neuromuscular systems are completely different. Kyle has morphed his body over the years into a fast-twitch machine that relies heavily on the anaerobic system whose main goal is to provide energy for fast explosive movements. His overall neuromuscular system also has been trained with the overall focus on gross motor control such as hitting long irons and the driver as far as possible compared with fine motor control shots such as a precise 60-yard lob shot over a bunker. Many of the golfers on tour have a much more balanced neuromuscular system with a blend of fast explosive movements needed during tee shots and the ability to slow it down and get more precise for the short game.

Berkshire is missing a whole part of the game

To be a good golfer and compete on tour you simply need to have those precision shots from 150 yards and closer in your toolbox. Not only that but you need to be able to do it consistently. Many players will tone those shots way down often hitting at only 70% of their full power and often even less than that. In my opinion, the main reason Kyle isn’t putting up good numbers and I also don’t think he will unless he makes some changes I will list below, is that he has trained for so long on being fast and explosive that he only knows how to hit that way- fast and explosive. Whether it be a driver or a 60-degree lob wedge, every swing he hits is fast and aggressive as this is how he has trained and knows how to swing. While that works well in a long-drive championship it does not translate well to competitive golf. I hate to say it but I think that Kyle having trained so much at being a competitive long driver has hurt his chances of being able to transition to playing on tour. Not all is lost however as I will outline below.

What can he do?

Kyle Berkshire is still very young only 25 years old. That being said, I do think he needs to sit down and think about what he wants to do. Because of the specificity required of being a long-drive competitor, I do not believe he can do both. He must either choose to continue being a long-drive competitor or really go all out and exclusively focus on making it to the PGA tour. If you have been following his YouTube channel for any time as I have then you will know that he has been focusing quite a bit of time on training to make it on tour. However, he recently posted that he has done just that but is also now going to be setting aside some time to train for a long drive. I believe that is a mistake and he needs to completely pull the plug on competing in long drive and focus exclusively on making it to the tour. If he does decide to make the transition here are some things I believe he will need to do to start lowering his scores.

Slow everything down

This might come as a shocker to some but I think that Kyle needs to find his consistency first even if it means dropping his stock drive yardage from 360 to 310. Find that consistency first and then slowly ramp it up until you are back to your full potential. The most important shots I think he needs to change are his mid-irons down. He swings ridiculously fast with his mid-irons to his wedges. You just can’t consistently hit precise shots with that much speed. Slow the swing down, decrease the backswing so there are fewer moving parts and thus fewer chances for mistakes, and work on this over and over. This won’t be easy at all and will likely take him a year if not more of very hard work before he can change the muscle memory of these shots to slower and more controlled shots.

Training Thoughts

Now focusing more on the fitness and training aspect. Whenever you take someone who wants to improve their golf game via fitness you must first look at their strengths and weaknesses. Take someone who is 55 years old and a 15 handicapper who loves the game and would like to improve so he can be competitive in his local tournaments. He works a 40-hour workweek and has a wife and kids who are in college but he has time to play several rounds a week. He is overweight by about 40 pounds, is stiff with a poor range of motion throughout the body, and has not worked out in several years. His stock drive is 210 yards and increasing his driver distances is one of his main goals and what he believes is holding him back. While this individual has a host of fitness-related problems- it is a very straightforward case. If he is serious about his health and his golf game- he will need to drop some weight. This will improve his ability to take full swings as there isn’t as much tissue in the way along with a long list of other benefits which is beyond the scope of this article. In addition to losing weight, he will benefit from a basic introductory weightlifting and stretching program. This phase will likely take several months after which you can then transition this individual to more golf-specific training- power and explosiveness. It will take a decent amount of effort to attain his goal and is by no means easy. That said it is very simple and straightforward. Kyle Berkshire however is a whole different beast and requires a much different approach.

How should Kyle train?

Let’s take a look at Kyle Berkshire’s strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths

  • Speed
  • Power
  • Explosiveness
  • Gross motor control
  • Excellent range of motion

Weaknesses

  • Fine motor control
  • Precision shots
  • Consistency
  • Ability to slow swing speed down

Finding a golfer with the above strengths and weaknesses is very rare and I don’t think there is a golfer alive that is as polarized as Kyle. Training Kyle Berkshire to be a better golfer from the fitness side is vastly more difficult than your average golfer. Not only that but there is very limited to no data for someone like Kyle. I will attempt to break these down and give an idea of how I believe he would need to change up his training to make it on tour.

Focus on Stability and balance

Kyle does not need more speed or explosiveness. His stock drive is 360 yards and he can hit an 8 iron over 280 yards. Again speed and explosiveness are not a problem for Kyle. I would not abandon speed training altogether but it should be decreased to the point of maintenance and not something he should be actively looking to improve upon. Again we are focusing on him making it on tour not him being a better long-drive competitor. I would instead turn my attention to building up as much stability and balance as possible. This then begs the question as to how you do that. Building up stability can be done by gaining some strength as well as packing on a little bit of muscle mass. Kyle is 6 foot 3 and weighs 215 pounds. He has long limbs which allow for great muscle development while not impeding range of motion. I would like to see Kyle fill his frame out a little and get up to the 225 to 230 mark. That won’t happen overnight and might take two years if not more for him to gain solid-quality muscle. Despite what those infomercials past midnight say about gaining 30 pounds of muscle in 1 month- they simply don’t work and are not backed by science. Muscle gains occur quite slowly and realistic muscle gains per month are around half a pound give or take a little. That is just 6 pounds per year. Now if you are new to training you can gain more possibly up to 15 pounds per year however Kyle has been training for some time so his potential is lower.

Now you might be thinking that if he gains all that muscle size it will decrease his range of motion which will decrease how far he can hit it. You would be exactly correct. If he was able to maintain his range of motion while also gaining muscle, strength, and power he wouldn’t lose any distance and this would be how he would be able to hit even further- but that is an article for another time. The truth is I think Kyle could benefit from tightening up a tad and losing some of that elasticity that allows him such a long backswing. While yes this might decrease his distance, that is fine. He has plenty of distance and can afford to lose some. Gain some muscle and strength to build that stability up so the consistency of shots improves. Sacrifice some mobility for increased stability. Add in some specific balance training such as training on uneven objects such as an air-ex pad to improve the proprioception of the feet and lower body and his scores will start to drop. I would like to re-emphasize just how unique Kyle is. This discussion and training methods would only be used for less than 0.1% of the population if not less. It is very specific to Kyle Berkshire and his unique strengths and weaknesses. Check out this article if you would like more information on the importance of protein for golf: Do you need Protein for Golf?Opens in a new tab.

Loss of Identity

Now that we have gone over what Kyle Berkshire can do if he would like to make the transition to the PGA tour, I would like to pose another question- Should he scrap the whole PGA tour thing and just stick to long drive? This is what Kyle is known for- blasting shots whether it be with his driver or his pitching wedge. He hits the absolute snot out of the ball and people love him for it. This is his brand identity. He has built up a very stable and growing YouTube community of over 168,000 subscribers at the time of writing this article. He did that in under two years which is quite remarkable as well. He is now also sponsored by Cobra golf with some help from his friend Bryson Dechambeau. You see there is money to be made just continuing to do what he does. Like his college coach said you might never make it on tour, but you can be the best at long drives. If he makes the transition to the PGA tour which I truly believe will require him to tone down his numbers and decrease his swing speed is he still the Kyle Berkshire we have come to know? Or is he just another player out of hundreds of thousands trying to make it on tour? It is very possible it could be a mistake for him from a monetary and brand standpoint.

Summary

I get the sense watching Kyle’s videos that he truly wants more than to just be a long-drive competitor. I think he realizes this as well and does not want to pass on this opportunity while he is young and still able to make it on tour. It would be very sad if he never gave it his 100% effort and down the line, he is just another what-if story. Regardless of what the conclusion is to the Kyle Berkshire story, I think there will be many interesting moments to come and I will be there to cheer him on.

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