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Q&A: Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk

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Lisa Vlooswyk, aka Lisa Longball, is one of the longest-hitting women on the planet. She’s the seven-time Canadian women’s long drive champion, and she finished third at last year’s Re/Max World Long Drive Championship.

I saw her on an episode of Steve Elkington’s “The Rural Golfer” (where she actually beat Elkington in a three-hole match from the tips) and figured she’d be a great interview.

She didn’t disappoint.

Ms. Longball was kind enough to answer a few questions about her unique background, her accomplishments, and of course, how she hits the ball so darn far.

The topics are in bold with Vlooswyk’s replies below.

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How she got started in golf

First time I swung a club was in grade 8. There were 60 boys and me. The coach told me to go hit my 6-iron at the end of the range. I hit my 6-iron at the end of the range while he worked with the boys all night.

I ended up quitting.

There weren’t a lot of strong junior girls programs at that point. I maybe played once a year with my dad if he forced me to. It was really only after I finished university that my boyfriend at the time (now husband) was asked to go to corporate golf charity tournaments, because golf truly is a key networking skill.

He was embarrassed because he didn’t play, so he just dragged me out to the local muni or wherever we could get on, and that’s kind of how I got into it.

When she knew she could compete in long drive

In 1999, the DeMaurier Classic—one of the four LPGA majors at the time—came to Calgary. I had the summers off as a school teacher, so I decided to volunteer that week. And watching the best female golfers in the world—even though I couldn’t break 100 to save my life—I was completely inspired. And I’d always been competing since a young age, I was thinking “What can I compete in now?”

In 2000, I entered my first golf tournament. It was the mid-handicap, which is like your state mid-amateur. I came sort of halfway through the pack, but I was hitting it 80-to-100 yards past my playing partners. But I still didn’t think it was long because it was just the mid-handicap.

In 2001, I entered the Brita Amateur. I just squeaked in. I placed near the end of the pack, but I was outdriving the NCAA girls by 70 or 80 yards. And that’s when I knew I was long.

I happened to see an advertisement for a long drive competition, and I entered with a set of clubs I won at Costco. I won with a 313-yard drive.

Her experience playing a LPGA Monday qualifier

I probably play to about a five-[handicap] right now. My problem is keeping it in play. I’ve done a Monday qualifier for the LPGA.

I’m at 160 yards. Some of the girls are using a hybrid, and I’m using a 7-iron. I’m not just long with my driver, I’m long with all my clubs. The problem is consistency and keeping it in play.

These girls aren’t long, but they’re deadly accurate and they get up-and-down from everywhere. So that’s where I struggle competing in full golf.

On match play in long drive competitions

In our sport, if we have headwind or tailwind, it never really shows that. Wind conditions impact our sport—both men and women—tremendously. That’s why Art Selinger, owner of the Long Drivers of America, switched to a match play format.

I’m not in love with match play: You can have one pair where someone hits it 370 and someone hits it 375 and the 375 advances. And the next pair hit it 360 and 365 and the 365 advances. Really, it should have been the first two that advanced; that’s my issue with match play.

Amateurs’ biggest distance-killer

The biggest mistake amateurs make when trying to swing hard is that tight grip pressure. One of the things you have to do to maximize distance is relax grip pressure. You want that hands relaxed, the forearms relaxed.

Her equipment

When I was doing a Monday qualifier for the LPGA, I tried to switch down to a 45-inch driver. I hit a 47.25-inch driver. I have swung tens of thousands of times with the 47-inch driver. I have found I have more success using that in full golf as well.

A lot of guys, they want to tell their buddies they hit an extra stiff shaft. But really, you want to hit the most flexible shaft you can control, and that’s a huge part of long driving. If you can control a more flexible shaft, use it. You’ll hit it farther.

I use two different shafts: a Matrix and an Accra. So at the world championships this year I used both Matrix and Accra shafts.

I’ve been sponsored by Nike for the last 9 years. I used the Covert 2.0 last year…with it I came in third at the World Long Drive Championships. I have one set at 7 degrees and one set at 8 degrees. And that’s my playing loft as well. I’m hitting the Vapor irons right now and love them.

Steve Elkington

At a Champions Tour event, Steve Elkington watched my clinic and really loved it. He said, “Do you mind if I give you a couple of pointers?” He took me to the range; he gave me some great tips. And then he called me a few months later and said he started this new show called the Rural Golfer.

I was his first female guest, and I was his first guest to ever beat him. I played from the tips with him, and it was unbelievable. I do a backflip on the show and it really freaked Elk out…all the stars lined up for me. I can’t say enough nice things about Steve Elkington.

On her swing

I’m self-taught, so my swing is quite unique. I used to be very Furyk-y, where I took it outside. I’m trying to make a better turn with my upper body now.

I get right up on my toes…very Laura Davies-esque. I’m one of the smaller girls out there. I’m five-foot-six and I’m competing against a lot of girls who are six feet.

I definitely do a bit of a squat as well, which is a bit unorthodox. But you won’t see that in my irons, I don’t squat with my irons.

It’s leg strength, core strength, but my leg strength has always been my secret.

It’s kind of like right before you do a back-handspring or a backflip, you’ve got that bit of a squat and you push up off the ground. That’s kind of how I hit the longball.

A lot of coaches I’ve asked—including Steve Elkington—“Is it bad that I’m up on my toes at impact?” They’ve all said no.

When I’m trying to kill it, in terms of swing—you have six chances. You only need to get one of those in play—you’re trying to swing as hard as humanly possible.

In full golf, I average between 280 and 290 on my drives. When I’m in long drive competition, I average between 295 and 310.

If you’re not hitting it three bills in long drive, you’re definitely not competitive at the world-class level. For any girls looking to get into it, you need to be hitting it three bills.

When she’s not competing…

I get to do corporate charity golf outings. Companies hire me to come out and hit balls for guests. And I love it, because a lot of guys won’t listen to a girl. But because I’m a girl who hits it over three bills…a guy…who I’m outdriving by 30 yards, he’ll listen to me. And most women don’t hit it 200 yards, so they’ll listen to me too.

I do a lot of speaking at conferences, too. And basically, I share my story. If you’d ask me 10 or 12 years ago if this is what I’d be doing, I’d have laughed at you.

I started my own golf school this year: Lisa Longball Golf School. I had so many women asking, “Do you teach? Do you teach? Do you teach?” I hired PGA instructors to coach at my school, and I also do clinics and so forth.

Changes for 2015

I actually started working with the strength and conditioning coach for Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter, Mitch Sadowsky, the golf fitness instructor at Lake Nona. He came up for one of the men’s golf schools that I did. I’m going to be training with him this winter to get ready for this season.

I’m going to be making a coaching change this year to Paul Horton out of Calgary.

You can follow Lisa on Twitter or check out her website.  

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Trae

    Jan 10, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Do any of you guys find that it is odd that she’s from Calgary? I mean considering that other long ball hitters like Zuback and Sadlowski are also from Alberta. What are the odds that Canada with maybe 10% of the population of the U.S., and the U.S. where golf seems to be far more popular and there’s millions of people who play golf there, yet the province of Alberta has produced these long ball hitters who are quite accomplished. Is it something in the water or what? I’m no statistician but it seems to me the odds of that go beyond chance. Why don’t I ever hear of long ball hitters from Ontario or Nova Scotia or something. There’s gotta be something about Alberta. Maybe all that ‘AAA’ Alberta beef I don’t know.

  2. JR

    Jan 10, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    | The problem is consistency and keeping it in play

    Seeing the down the line view of this swing would probably give me night terrors

    • Rich

      Jan 10, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      It’s not about how it looks overall, but how you deliver the club to impact. Watch the swing again from the top of the backswing down to the ball. I’d put that path and position up against anyone.

  3. Wendell

    Jan 10, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I remember Lisa competing at local Remax long drive regional finals in St Albert. As a qualifier in the men’s open division I can tell you that she wasn’t very far off from the open division qualifiers. This played on your mind when you were competing for sure… Being longer than the ladies was not a given when she was competing. Glad to see she is still ripping them out there.

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Tour News

Keegan Bradley Puts Srixon Z-Forged Blades in the bag

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This week at the BMW Championship, Srixon staff member Keegan Bradley switched irons from the cult classic Z745 to the company’s current Z-Forged blade irons.

For most players, an iron change is not something you would do during the playoffs, but when talking to the team at Srixon, Keegan had been trying to replace his set for a little while. The Z745s were getting on in years and with recent swing changes, he was also looking for more consistent numbers and distance control. That’s an impressive request from one of the top-50 ballstrikers on tour

Let’s take a quick look at his stats

  • 12th in Proximity to Hole with an average distance of 34.2″
  • 16th in Strokes Gained Approach with .642
  • 38th in Greens in Regulation at 68.45%

His new Z-Forged Iron setup is 4-PW with Nippon Tour 120 X shafts.

Although Keegan started the BMW Championship in 66th place in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, he still has a chance of making it to the Tour Championship with a solid weekend in Chicago.

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the 2019 BMW Championship

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GolfWRX has an assortment of photos from the 2019 BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, including in-hand photos of equipment, shots from the range, and WITB looks at the likes of Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and more.

Here are a few of the most interesting shots from Medinah.

Not familiar with “The Johnny Appleseed of American Golf?” Acquaint yourself!

On the first tee at the BMW Championship…a BMW

The Phil Mickelson calf game is strong, per usual

An in-hand look at the new Scotty Cameron Teryllium TNP 2 (more here)

A Bettinardi tour putter cover

It takes a village…

The flatstick that rolled in the winning put at the first FEC playoff event…

Fairway Jesus with the Nike high socks and Roshe combo 

Rory McIlroy’s TaylorMade Spider putter cover feature a spider holding a championship belt, of course…

Phil Mickelson’s 64-degree PM Grind 2.0 wedge 

All our photos from the 2019 BMW Championship

General galleries 

WITBs

 

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Equipment

Tiger Woods opts for lead tape on his Newport 2 rather than a heavier putter: Here’s why it makes sense

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After days of speculation about which putter Tiger Woods might end up with an attempt to tame the greens at Royal Portrush, we now officially know he settled on his old faithful GSS Scotty Cameron but with a twist—some added lead tape.

The whole reason the speculation was in high gear early in the week was because of Tiger was spotted with a new custom Scotty that had the Studio Select weights in the sole to increase head weight to help with slow greens, something Tiger has talked about in the past—especially when it comes to the greens at The Open Championship.

We can even look back a few years ago when Tiger finally put a Nike putter in play, the original Method (those were nice putters) and talked about both the increased head weight and the grooves on the face to help get the ball rolling on slower greens.

The decision to stick with the old faithful with added lead tape goes beyond just a comfort level, even if the two putters look the same at address, it’s about feel and MOI around the axis.

Let me explain. Sure the putter heads weight the same, but depending on where the mass is located it will change the MOI. The putter with the Select weights vs. lead tape in the middle will have a higher MOI because there is more weight on the perimeter of the head—it’s like a blade vs. cavity back iron. Sure, two 7-irons can weigh the same but the performance will vary significantly.

For a player with such deft feel like Tiger Woods, any change like that can could cause doubt. Tweaking an already great putting stroke and on the eve of the last major of the year is not really something you want to do, which is why it isn’t surprising he stuck with his legendary Newport 2.

Lead tape in the middle allows Tiger to increase the head weight with very little change to the natural rate of rotation for hit putter and hopefully manage the slower Portrush greens better.

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