Good news Middle East golf fans, the top eight drivers in the world will be competing in the Long Drive World Series at Jumeirah Golf Estates’ European Tour Performance Institute on March 17. Worldwide Golf’s Scott Grayston met the UK Long Drive Champion, Lucas Dornan, to find out the secrets behind him smashing the ball 500 yards and what to expect from this unique event that is coming to the region for the first time.

Worldwide Golf: How did you get into long driving? 

Lucas Dornan: I went to get a club fitted for me because I was spinning my driver too much and I was given a shaft that was three times stiffer than normal and soon as I hit that it went nearly 400 yards. The guy said my swing has so many leaks of power in it that I could do well at a long driving competition. I entered into the UK Long Driving Tournament and went and won it. It’s all been a snowball effect from there really.

WWG: Were you a low-handicapped golfer before you started competing in these competitions?  

LD: I played golf every two or three weeks, usually when it was nice weather but nothing that serious. From October to April, I would never go anywhere near a set of golf clubs and competing in a Long Drive event was nothing I even considered. However, now I’m intent on proving myself to be the best in the world.

WWG: How far can you hit the ball?

LD: That’s the golden question! I can hit one shot 500 yards and then the next one will go 350 so it’s mixed and depends on the conditions. On a normal British day with no wind, I would say about 420 yards is the average. If the wind’s on your side and you have a nice firm fairway, 500 yards is easy. However, if the wind is against you and it’s wet and damp, 350 is a good number. Usually what I say to people, is whatever Rory McIlroy does, add 100 yards on and that’s roughly where a long driver would be.

WWG: What’s your longest drive ever?

LD: In competition, my longest drive was 427 yards.

WWG: Have you got any other party tricks up your sleeve? 

LD: I can drive it with a putter! The design of a putter is actually very similar to the driver with a three-degree face but it’s a little bit harder to find the sweet spot and is much shorter. However, I can hit it 300 yards with a putter so that’s not a bad average!

WWG: What do you look for in a club to get the most yards possible?

LD: Equipment’s always changing and improving but what we look for is a forged driver so you lose a bit of smash factor. We obviously want lower loft so we can reduce the spin and we have the longest shaft that is legal so we go up to 48 inches whereas most Tour players will have around 45 inches. This helps up get more speed with the club.

WWG: How popular do you think the upcoming World Long Drive Series will be in Dubai?

LD: I think it has the potential to change the sport. It will have a completely different vibe to a normal golf tournament with DJs and under the lights with pyrotechnics. Some of the best athletes in golf will be here competing so for the fans it will be a real party atmosphere.

WWG: Do you think we will find players switching from professional golf to professional long-distance driver soon? 

LD: If you look in the past at people like Jamie Sadlowski, who was the face of long drives for a lengthy period, he’s moved on to the Tour because there was more money on it but now the money seems to be coming in to the long drive with the events getting more attention on a global scale. Pros that struggle with their short game and putting but are monster hitters have more chance of making a good living from long drive competitions than on Tour.

WWG: What’s the daily routine like for long hitters?

LD: We’re very different to a normal golfer. Most golfers nowadays train in a gym a lot more because they realise how beneficial it is but for a long driver it’s paramount. Our training and diet is crucial but it’s not just about bulking out because you’ve got to have fast twitch fibres. If you have a big chest, which most of us do, if it gets in the way it can prevent your flexibility so you’re lose a bit of distance so it’s all about the compromise of which muscles will slow you down and which ones will speed you up. It’s a science but the game’s evolving all the time and I think long drivers are at the forefront when it comes to the athleticism of golf.

People always say the same thing:

  • Tee the ball further up to get less spin.
  • Try and improve your clubhead speed by getting a faster hip turn.

However, everybody’s got a different type of swing so you can’t say that either of these would benefit your distance. The main thing I’d say is that you get a lot of power from your wrists and a lot of release from your wrists so strengthening this area is a big power source for you. Wrist exercises holding heavy weights will benefit you massively and improve your clubhead speed by up to about 10 miles an hour, which will gain you another 20 or 30 yards. This is a little bit different to the normal tip but something I believe in.

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