For the past 10 months the Gorilla Golf League has been drawing people to the Pete Cowen Academy on a Friday evening from around the North West of England to challenge for the bragging rights of being crowned the 2018 Gorilla Golf League Champion. Nine finalists gathered last month in a two stage five ball shoot out. The winner would also walk away with the title along with Emirates Airline flights to Dubai and accommodation for the DP World Tour Championship.

The results were simple. Each player received 10 balls, which was split into two rounds. The data was recorded on the latest TrackMan system on a normalised setting and all balls used were Callaway premium range balls.

As the range fell into darkness and the lights came on the showdown got underway. Man Mountains Tom Metcalfe and Dave Benford would come into the final as the favourites based on previous form with clubhead speeds touching 135mph and balls speeds not far off 200mph. They were certainly on form as Benford recorded an astonishing 358 yards with Metcalfe close behind with a monstrous 354. The shock came from the unassuming Jordan Smith who looked liked he had just rocked up from a boy band photo shoot.  The 25 year old from Doncaster threw down the gauntlet early on with a staggering 362 yard tee shot that came off the face like a howitzer. With a swing speed of 126mph he was down on pace compared to Benford and Metcalfe but with a perfect launch angle and with just a 860rpm spin rate, it was the ball that earned him the title.

Worldwide Golf: Have you always been able to smash the driver miles off the tee – as a teenager were you reaching par-4s?

Jordan Smith: As a junior my distance always stood out from the rest of my friends, but nobody understood why. The first par 4 I drove was the 15th at Wheatley Golf Club, 274 yards off the whites, when I was 12 years old. Another good memory was playing for Yorkshire against Lancashire as a 15 year-old and driving the 18th green at Oakdale Golf Club – 338 yards.

How has the advanced equipment over recent years added distance?

JS: I’ve never really updated my driver, I’ve just had second-hand clubs off friends that they don’t want to use anymore. It was only taking part in the Gorilla Golf League that made me want to get a more suitable driver for me. Before the Gorilla Golf League started I was using a Ping G20 with a standard XS shaft, but having a proper shaft in the new Rogue I can see a huge difference in consistency and an extra 30 yards at least, which is a great bonus. The new shaft really helps for its better spin rate. Being able to change the weights on the Rogue clubhead is great for added distance.

You won with just a standard head and shaft. Why didn’t you opt for a long-drive head or shaft?

JS: I did consider buying a long-drive club, but I didn’t know much about them and what to buy. It’s something I’m definitely considering for the future. For the Gorilla Golf final I just went with what I know I can hit consistently and trusted my swing with the Rogue. I also thought I might have struggled to get some good rhythm with a 5 degree driver.

Do you think the league appealed to the non-traditional golfer?

JS: Yes – definitely. It was a great idea. Big-hitting is exciting for people to watch as well as to play. Whenever I was at my home club the members would ask me how I was getting on in the Gorilla Golf League. Pretty much everyone knew all about the competition and they were interested in who was hitting it the longest distance. Golf can be quite a serious sport and I think this event made it all a lot of fun. It was also well organised with a great set up.

If you could take on any of the pros at the DP World Tour Championship in a long drive comp who would it be and why?

JS:  As a young teenager I can remember watching Rory Mcllroy bomb a driver at the British Masters at The Belfry in about 2009. He hit it so hard and recoiled the club after the shot, I believe that’s where my recoil came from. I always wanted to hit the driver like him.

I’d like to take on Rory or Tommy Fleetwood. I saw Tommy drive a 400 yard par 4 at Walton Heath in the British Masters. Either of them would be pretty amazing. I can remember playing with Danny Willett in a pro-am when I was 14 and being 40 yards behind him. It would be interesting to see if I can outdrive him now.

Jordan Smith

You aren’t a huge bloke like Joe Miller so where does all your speed come from?

JS: I think it all comes from my swing. I have a steep takeaway and then my hands on the down swing are playing catch-up, so I have to turn my hands over quickly which delofts the club and traps the ball. This is pretty much what a pro told me. I’m really not too sure whether that explains it.

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