Being clear and committed to your goals determines how far you will go and what success you are able to achieve. Seven-time Canadian Long Drive Champion Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk, who—just over ten years ago—went from being a high-handicap recreational golfer to a professional player who hits farther than most men, shows others how to determine what drives them, where they want to go, and how to get there. Lisa had a chat with EP Golf about her spectacular career thus far (including the backflips!):
P Golf: Tell us a little about yourself, and your background?
Lisa Longball: I am currently ranked 4th in the World in ladies long drive and am the 7-time Canadian Long Drive Champion for women, a Golf Entertainer at corporate and charity golf outings, Keynote Peak Performance Speaker and Golf Journalist. Many people do not know I used to be a 30+ handicap just over 10 years ago and an elementary school teacher.
EP: Why did you become interested in long driving?
LL: I played in my first amateur golf tournament and I was 80-100 yards longer than most of the other girls. I saw an advertisement for a long drive competition and won with a 313 yard drive with a driver I bought at Costco. I won my first National title the next year and came 6th in the world. I was hooked!
EP: What is your longest drive?
LL: My longest drive in completion was briefly a world record at 350 yards 2 feet 2 inches. 351 is the new record. I was the first woman to hit it over 350 yards in competition.
EP: How important is strength & conditioning and fitness to the long driver?
LL: I think it is a key and integral component especially as you continue you in the sport. Being both strong and flexible helps to not only hit it farther but prevent injuries.
EP: What do you do to make sure you have the strength to hit as far as you do?
LL: People always grab my bicep when they hear I am a long driver. They think it is arm strength that makes me hit it so far. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It is in fact strong and explosive legs and core that helps players hit it deep. I do a lot of plyometrics and core stability exercises.
EP: How much time do you spend per week conditioning your fitness and how much time per week practicing your swing?
LL: I work out 6 days a week especially in my off season. This is the time to get strong. I start hitting balls again In January after a 6-8 week break. The break helps me rejuvenate, recharge and get hungry for hitting again. I will start out 2-3 times a week then ramp up to practicing 4-5 times per week.
EP: Do you vary your routine as you approach a competition date?
LL: I have had some discussions with my trainer Dr. Ryan Emmons about this. He has found that I have made too many changes going into competition season. This year I plan to not make significant changes a few weeks out from big events and instead maintain my routine and coast into the competitions instead of changing things last minute.
EP: How important is nutrition to the long driver?
LL: I think it is a key to sustaining energy for long periods of time. On the completion days it is a double elimination format and you often have to stay fresh for 2-3 of potential hitting.
EP: How do you handle the pressure of a big competition?
LL: Being prepared. If you do the work before hand you should feel excited to compete not scared. I also love music and it motivates me. My song this year on the way to the grid was Avicci’s Wake me Up!
EP: How did you learn your technique for hitting long drives? Is it transferable to a normal round of golf?
LL: I have just always naturally hit it far. Most women do not hit it over 200 yards. The reason being is most women are arm lifters versus making a good turn and most women don’t take a good rip at the ball! In terms of it being a transferable skill absolutely. People think I just hit my driver far but when I am at 155 yards I use an 8 iron. The difference is I only get one ball off the tee versus 6 in long drive so I just don’t swing at 110%. I swing at 75% to keep it on the short grass.
EP: How do you mentally prepare for competition? How do you mentally prepare for practice?
LL: I do a lot of visualization and simulation. I often pretend I am at World Championships and I put stop watch out timing 2 minutes and 45 seconds and I picture the Remax Balloon at the end of the grid, the yardage markers, the lights and the announcer’s voice over the crackling speakers. I pretend I am there and on the actual day of the event I feel like I have been there a 1,000 times before.
EP: What is your golf handicap?
LL: I play to a 6.
EP: What is different between long drivers and your typical LPGA member?
LL: We only have to be good at one small aspect of the game. When I was preparing to compete in a LPGA Monday qualifier I was overwhelmed at having to practice chipping, putting, irons, fairway woods, hybrids and on course practice. It was a full time job! The short games of LPGA Players is what separates us. They get up and down from EVERY WHERE and don’t miss fairways!
EP: What was your best experience as a competitive long driver?
LL: Winning my first National Title at Glen Abbey in Ontario which has hosted several Canadian Opens.
EP: Your post victory celebration is unique, surprising, and very impressive! Tell us about your post-win gymnastic celebration.
LL: Ha ha! I credit my ability to hit the ball so far to my background as a gymnast. Strength, speed, flexibility and balance are all key transferable skills. When I win a completion I celebrate by doing a back flip. My son thinks it is pretty cool mom can still do that!
EP: What do you like to do when not out on the golf course?
LL: I LOVE wake surfing! The sun on your face and music pumping with friends and family in the boat! I would do that professionally if I could!
EP: What advice do you have for a newbie interested in starting long drive competition?
LL: For a woman to be seriously competitive at World Championships she has to be hitting 3 bills (300 yards). For a guy, you need to be hitting it at least 380 yards. There are guys who it 350 and they are 50 yards longer than most of the “long” guys at their home course so think they can be long drivers. You won’t make it out of the first round at 350 yards.
EP: Do you hold any current records?
LL: I hold the Canadian Record at 350 yards 2 feet and 2 inches.
EP: What titles have you won?
LL: I have one 7 Canadian Long Drive titles, The LDA Tour Championships and the North American Cup in which I captained a Canadian team to a win over the USA.
EP: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
LL: I am extremely excited to recently have signed with the speaking bureau Speakers’ Spotlight. I am passionate about sharing my story and helping companies, organizations and associations with actionable strategies for Peak Performance. The title of my main keynote speech is “Drive Determines Distance” .