UNLV Alum Spotlight – Driver Punch of Kitayama Far Outweighs His Stature

Kurt Kitayama measures all of 5′ 7″, but you wouldn’t know it by how far and well he hits his driver. The former UNLV golfer earned his first PGA Tour victory in March 2023 with an outstanding performance at the Bay Hill Invitational. Here are some secrets to his success. Photo – Kitayama Instagram.

According to Golf.com, Kitayama utilizes the TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver and his swing speed is up to 182.2 mph. That speed puts him amongst the fastest players on the PGA Tour. He ranks 31st on Tour at 306.7 yards off the tee. He ranks 48th in total driving.

Kitayama worked with TaylorMade Tour Rep to put a shorter shaft on the driver and that proved successful.

“I thought the driver shaft he was playing was too strong and too long so we had him test a few different shaft options and wanted to go with the one he liked based off of his feel,” Adrian Rietveld said. “That’s something I can’t see or measure.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kurt Kitayama (@kurt_kitayama)

For Kitayama, it was the stuff of fantasy.

“I’ve always dreamed of winning on the Tour and to finally do it, yeah, it’s pretty amazing,” Kitayama said after the win. “It’s pretty unbelievable, really.”

At Bay Hill, things all came together and he was finally able to match his European PGA Tour wins with the official PGA Tour title.

Kitayama played at UNLV from 2011-15 and was labeled “The Project” because his game was a work in progress. Now, he is one of the best players in the world and his former UNLV asst. coach, JC Deacon, is his swing coach.

There is also another nickname for Kitayama these days.

“We call him Quadzilla or the Quadfather because he’s got really big legs,” Xander Schauffele told USA Today. The two play frequently when home in Las Vegas.

The USA Tour story was very interesting and details his long journey to PGA Tour stardom.

Kitayama is ranked 20th in the world and is scheduled to play in The Masters April 6-9 and Augusta National..”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kurt Kitayama (@kurt_kitayama)