Long drive is a competitive sport where success is derived by hitting a golf ball the farthest by driving. This month Range Servant met up with the WR holder and World Long Drive Champion Sandra Carlborg to find out what it takes to be a champ!
Power, speed, accuracy and adrenaline – does it make you think of a golf competition? Not really. The crowd is shouting and cheering in the stands. Even the players express their emotions passionately after the golf ball is fiercely smashed. World Long Drive competition is really something else. It provides a similar feeling to the Super Bowl in American Football. It is still a growing sport with a small but dedicated talent base of golfers that populate the world of Long-Drive with the top athletes competing professionally in various events and exhibitions.
We decided to meet up with Sandra Carlborg (Ladies Division WR holder with a stunning 391 yard drive and World Long Drive Champion 2011,2012, 2014, 2015) to find out more about how she got into long driving and what it takes to stay on top.
The first thought that came up when meeting Sandra was; “Wait, where’s the rest of her?”. Sandra’s numbers would have you think she’s more of a muscular gladiator type of person, but in front of us stood a normal, energetic and happy young woman. She wore a pink golf cap and had cute pink details on her Callaway golf bag (talk about a crushed stereotype of a long drive power athlete), but you could clearly see that she looks healthy, fit and is in good shape. That had us even more curious about Sandra and her lifestyle.
Sandra, a 33-year-old from Alingsås, Sweden, started to play Golf at the young age of 10. Her family, grandparents and cousins all played golf which naturally led her and her brother to follow in the same footsteps. According to Sandra, she was practically raised on the golf course. At the age of 12 she played her first competition which she won, and later that same year she won 7 more competitions which got her hooked to the game of golf. She became a professional when she was 20 years old and qualified immediately the to the women’s Europe Tour. During the 13 years that followed Sandra competed professionally on different tours and places around the world. In 2008, she decided to compete in long driving, and in true “Sandra fashion” she won her first competition.
In 2009, she set the women’s world record of 391 yards (357.7m) that still stands today. Sandra thought to herself: “If I am good enough to beat the world record then I can probably compete with the best”, and then decided to enter the World Championship in Long Drive. With 4 championship titles, a world record and a stronger passion for the long drive competition she eventually decided last year to step down from professional golf to focus entirely on a professional long drive career at a time where long driving is growing in fame and Sandra is one of the front figures.
So, how does Sandra prepare and train? She tells us that she focuses on her technique, speed and to hit a lot (a lot!) of drives during a period of 2 hours a day on the driving range. To get the most out of her practice Sandra uses and takes advantage of intelligent technology tools to track, measure, evaluate and adjust, in order to improve her performance. According to Sandra there are no benefits of working on her drive more than those 2 hours so she puts in. She spends another 1-2 hours a day in the gym to work on conditioning and strength.
We talked to her personal trainer, Joakim Svensson, who has also trained another prestigious athlete (the Swedish NBA player Jonas Jerebko), to find out how he trains Sandra. Joakim tells us that they work with a ”3D filosophy” where the focus lies within using movement in motion to gain maximum force in the swing. He tells us that by using only the upper body during a swing can create a lot of tear on the back muscles and stress on the spine, so it is very important to incorporate legs, hips and glutes. Everything is about the correct angles in the feet and hips if you want to produce a motion with power and speed. Joakim and Sandra work on different types of rotational movements where multiple joints and muscles are involved at the same time in order to connect the entire body for a powerful output. Most golf players have limited range of motion and mobility in their hips which leads to a shorter hit and higher risk for future back problems. Joakim claims that their type of training benefits the back while it produces more power in the swing.
We also wanted to know what type of driving range equipment benefits Sandra in her training besides the technology tools. When it comes to a good golf mat, Sandra tells us that a mat should provide good stability, sufficient amount of space for a long drive swing, quality holes/slits to firmly peg up the golf ball many times over to a desired height and lastly a good grip for feet placement. During the darker and colder months of the year when she wants practice on the driving range instead of a simulator, other equipment that is very beneficial to her are bay heaters that provide infrared heat and high quality outfield lightning.
Sandra, besides being one of the first female long drive celebrities, is also one of the first people that has truly tested our latest newcomer – The Ellwee. She felt that Ellwee made her accomplish more with the time, with faster and smoother rounds thanks to the speed and agility compared to a normal golf cart. She even compared the two by a social factor and mentioned how it felt easy and good not being closed in a cart but yet being able to ride alongside another player and talk to each other. “Ellwee is super-interesting. It is for somebody who wants to play more and it enables you to play a round of golf on busy days when you previously felt you weren’t able to”.
Does Sandra have any last tips for us who want to hit better? “Focus on the tempo of the swing, swing with force while considering your turn and your backswing, but trust yourself to use force while swinging!”.