Golf has a reputation as a genteel sport, so the last thing you'd expect to see when watching a pro tournament is a driver flying at your face.

But that is precisely what a few poor fans experienced while watching the World Long Drive Championship in Oklahoma yesterday after a jaw-dropping incident.

Wes Patterson, who had already recorded a monster hit measuring 423 yards, unleashed a huge drive with such force that his driver snapped in two during his follow through and rebounded off his back, sending the clubhead and shards of the shaft flying into the crowd.

Some unsuspecting supporters at the WinStar World Casino & Resort, busy watching the ball in flight, did not realise that the potentially dangerous objects were hurtling towards them until a split-second before they landed in the stands, but thankfully no-one was seriously injured.

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Patterson, who recorded a cub speed of 146mph and ball speed of 216mph during the shot, later signed the clubhead for the fan he struck unwittingly.

One man was seen holding the clubhead in the crowd and clutching his heart in shock, while the woman sat next to him in the front row was left open-mouthed at her near-miss. Another woman sat behind was left holding a two-foot-long shard of shaft.

For the record, Patterson's shot sliced out of bounds so did not count, but he still managed to beat his opponent Ryan Reisbeck.