On the morning of July 16th, 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 lifted off from Cape Canaveral in their gigantic Saturn-V rocket, headed for the moon in advance of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon a few days later (ed. note: Michael Collins waited in the car).
However, those three heroes and that bright morning forty-nine years ago aren’t our story today. Millions of people know their story, and millions of people know that less than a year later, NASA used heroic measures to bring Apollo 13 and Tom Hanks (ed. note: No.) back after an oxygen tank exploded in the service module. But far fewer know that after the Eagle landed in the Sea of Tranquility, NASA’s Apollo program successfully landed five other missions on the big green cheese between 1969 and 1972. And even fewer know about the time a NASA astronaut set the solar system record for farthest a golf ball was ever hit.
Apollo 14 was to be NASA’s third moon landing and the first after actor Ed Harris (ed. note: Still no.) helped return Apollo 13 safely to earth in what became known as NASAs “successful failure”. When he was named commander of Apollo 14, Alan Shepard was already a legend of spaceflight after he became the first american in space, piloting Mercury’s Freedom 7 in a fifteen minute suborbital flight. Shepard (along with Gus Grissom and Wally Schirra) was one of three Mercury astronauts named to NASAs Apollo moon program.
On the last day of January 1971, Shepard, along with fellow Apollo astronauts Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell, lifted off from the Cape for a nine day mission to orbit and land on the moon. Included in the mission were two scheduled moonwalks. On February 6th, during their second moonwalk, Shepard pulled a modified six-iron club head out of one of his EVA suit pouches and attached the club head to the handle of the lunar excavation module (or diggin’ stick) and then proceeded to hit a pair of golf balls on the surface of the GODDAMN MOON. Shepard was heard to exclaim that in the low lunar gravity, the second ball went “miles and miles and miles”. According to the Weights and Measures Department of Lamprey Online (tentative motto: We focus on pints), that would be significantly farther than the official longest golf drive on earth, measured at 515 yards and held by Mike Austin since 1974, and gives the title to Shepard. At least until we finally get a pro golfer to fly to Mercury, home to the weakest gravity in the solar system.
If you want to challenge the respected Mr. Shepard on his assertion of the distance of his moonshot and holder of the record for longest drive in the solar system, the staff at Lamprey gently reminds you that, in addition to being one of the twelve human beings in all of human history to stand on the moon and being a naval test pilot, Shepard was the first guy in america that though strapping a giant rocket to his ass was a fine idea.