When did you realise to pursue a career in competitive Long Driving?
I could always hit a long ball from an early age and played when I was a teenager. I lost interest a bit when I was 17 or 18 as I stepped up the level of my gym work, but when I realised I could combine the two with long driving I really connected with it. I suppose it’s in line with my personality – I wanted to run the fastest at school, lift the most in the gym, hit the golf ball the farthest. I first competed in 2003, really got on with it, and carried on. I worked hard and won the European Championships in 2005 and haven’t looked back.
Your biggest achievement to date is winning the World Championships in 2010 – what was that like?
It was amazing, obviously. To invest that amount of time and money since I started back in 2003 and to win it was just brilliant. It’s a great event; it happens in Mesquite, just outside Las Vegas, and you hit balls over a couple of football and American football pitches and into the driving area between 250-460 yards away. I’m really looking forward to this year as they have changed the format a bit. The qualifying will take place in Mesquite in September, and then the final 8 finalists come back in October to Las Vegas and will compete hitting balls along a strip there for the title. The tv coverage will be on the golf channel in a sort of reality format, so it’s growing for sure, and with Callaway on board, it’s going to be a fantastic event again this year.
You mentioned you enjoy your gym time – how much time do you spend in the gym in comparison to the range?
Well over Christmas it was 100% gym work; when you are hitting balls every day for 2 years, you have to give yourself some time off. Gradually I am working back up to more balls on the range. I’ll spend up to 2 hours a day in the gym and then another 2 hours on the range. I’ve got to know my preparation routine pretty well now after doing this for a few years, so by the time competition comes around I’ll be doing two or even three range sessions a day making sure I’m ready.
And you’ve been attending the golf conditioning classes with Joe Reemer at Perfect Balance. How has he helped you prepare and where do the classes fit into your training regime?
Well, I have never been down the route of what Joe does before, but his knowledge of the body movements is impressive. When you are swinging the club at 150 mph and trying to whack it a long way, it is all about trying to squeeze the extra 1 or 2% more from what you’re doing. That can translate to 10 yards extra on the range and in a competition that can make all the difference. Seeing Joe at Perfect Balance has made sure I can fine-tune everything that impacts the golf swing: the muscle flow, my flexibility, and freeing the body up are extremely important and he is helping me with all these aspects. When you are 6″ 4″ and 20 stone it’s important you get these things right!
So with Joe’s help, what are you looking to achieve going forward?
Obviously, I want to win the World Championships as many times as I can – that’s the top of the sport. Beyond that though, I want to help raise the general awareness of Long Driving in the U.K. and throughout Europe. As the first European to win the World Championship I feel it’s my responsibility to do that, so I’m hoping to play a big part in bringing the sport more to the forefront here. Callaway has put on some great exhibitions and I was asked to go on the Sky Sports golf coverage which was also a great opportunity. Overall I just want to keep enjoying what I do and hopefully, that can feed down to other people too.
With that in mind, finally, is there any advice you would give to anyone trying to get into Long Driving competitively?
Work hard. You have to train hard in the gym, practice hard on the range, and be dedicated to what you are doing. Beyond that, you have to be focused on everything that matters in terms of your nutrition and taking care of your body. Of course, you need the right clubs and equipment but looking after yourself so you can remain dedicated is what you need to do.
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