Maurice Allen began his athletic career with dreams of being an Olympic sprinter. He ended up a long drive golf champion, driving the ball 450 yards on a consistent basis. Long drive competitions are, as the name suggests, tournaments based on driving the ball the furthest distance off a tee. Allen’s talent lead to a profile on NBC News:
Allen recently sat down with Golf Balls Unlimited to discuss how he found long drive competitions, using social media to grow a fan base, and future PGA plans.
Golf Balls Unlimited: How did you discover a knack for a long drive? I don’t want you to reveal any secrets, but there must be certain things you do from a technique perspective that gives you that extra 50-100 yards.
Maurice Allen: To be honest, I discovered my talent two years ago when a local golf store owner challenged my ability to hit a golf ball. I explained to him that I did golf – I had grown up around it and was introduced to the game as a young child. So he gave me a club to hit in his simulator which happened to be a 7-iron. I took a swing and the ball went 230 yards. He was shocked and asked if I could repeat it so I took about five more swings, all within a ten range of distance. From that moment, my long drive career began. I had never heard of long drive nor seen it on TV. I remember looking it up online as I was being driven to a local qualifier thinking that anyone who hits a golf ball 400+ must be on steroids. I competed in that local with a club given to me that day by ex-PGA tour player Kenny Knox. It was a standard length tour issue burner 8.5 loft with a s flex shaft. At the local, I hit 18 balls (3 attempts), all which were 20-30 past the leaders but I couldn’t control the 120-160 yard slice. My final ball in my last attempt rolled out of bounds by 6 inches at 387 yards and from that moment on I was hooked on long drive.
I believe speed is the factor that gives me the extra 50-100 yards. It is a God given gift that I have had as long as I can remember and I guess it just transferred over to my golf swing.
GBU: Multiple part question: You’ve been a world class sprinter, and now you’re a world class long driver. What are the differences and similarities in physical demand and preparation between the two. Secondly, is the PGA Tour on your horizon? If so, will you be making any adjustments to the way you drive the ball?
MA: I think both sports are equally demanding at the elite level. In the sport of long drive, the competition is very tough and sometimes it can come down to 7-8 inches. I’m not sure about the previous history of the sport but today if you look at the stats on most of the elite long drivers, they’ve all played some other sport ranging from the college to the professional level and I believe most have carried that same training and thought process over into the training for long drive. The major difference is sometimes I can start hitting balls in a practice session and get in the ‘trying to fix something’ zone. I don’t like about my ball flight, stance, etc., and before I know it, I look up and 6-8 hours have passed. Though that would never happen with track, I’ve been in the zone and ran for 3-4 hrs in a practice without breaks. Track workouts are still a huge part of my training in long drive.
Is the PGA Tour in my future? Yes, I would like to play on a tour, then hopefully make it to the PGA tour. That is one of my goals, for sure. I think the major thing in doing that is learning and focusing on the other skills of golf like I have with hitting the driver. The major adjustment I would make is control and getting the distance on my clubs in a better sequence by dialing back. Right now, my 60 wedge goes about 125-130, 56 wedge 135, 52 wedge 145-150, P wedge 160, and 9 iron 195. I can’t play tour golf with those kinds of distances nor gaps.
GBU: One of your Youtube videos has 15,000 views in addition to having a web presence. Long driving seems like a great fit with Youtube – it’s short, and it’s a spectacle. How has social media, namely Twitter and Youtube, influenced your business perspective?
MA: I think Twitter gives people, mainly fans, the chance to connect with me and my thoughts and the way I train. It is also great for sponsors to gain an audience to market products, news and discounts. YouTube is great because it allows potential sponsors the ability to see a long driver in action without going to an actual competition. Social media has allowed the branding market to change and I think it is fun and exciting to see where these chances will take me as an athlete and long driver.
GBU: Since this interview is for a golf ball blog, what kind of golf ball do you use? We have a couple of articles explaining the difference between a ball meant for distance, and a ball more for control. I assume you look for distance?
MA: I use the Volvik Vista is and Volvik Vista iv balls when playing. I feel these balls are great off the tee with distance yet soft enough to spin, and they have a great feel around the greens. I also love the colors that the balls come in, making the balls very stylish as well as functional. When playing golf, I don’t look for a ball with distance because no matter what ball I hit, it will be longer than average. So I look for a ball that feels good when I’m using my wedges and putting.
GBU: Last question – it’s you, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Bubba Watson on the first tee of a practice round. One thing leads to another and soon, they make a friendly wager for the longest drive. How much are you putting down on that?
MA: That would depend on the format. Is it one ball or six balls? What is the length of the grid we have to keep it within? Lastly, I have always been told never bet more than you can afford to lose. So me against the pockets of a former number one player in the world with countless PGA tours and major winner, current number one player in the world, and masters champion – it looks like what they could afford to lose is a whole lot more than what I could afford to lose. Also, let me remind you, they are very long off the tee but we don’t know how long because we have yet to place them in a situation where they can swing all out and not worry about control. I would love the chance to have a long drive challenge with myself and some PGA tour guys to raise money for charity. I think it would be a lot of fun and very entertaining.