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Luke Curtis Interview | My Golf Saver

You may have heard of the phrase “Drive for show putt for dough”. Well, in today’s modern game, hitting the ball far is the key to success. New and old golf courses are getting longer, and at professional tournaments, we are now seeing Par 4’s reach 500+ yards. A long drive competition is all about distance, with the regular rules and scoring system of the game put to one side.

The golfers of today work hard to build their bodies into powerful machines where weightlifting, fitness and nutrition are key to gaining those extra yards to out drive their opponents and get that extra step closer to the green. With the modern game having so many long hitters, we have seen the rise in newly designed golf tournaments. Long drive competitions have come out of this shift, and they give bigger hitters a chance to rip drive after drive as far as they possibly can.

My Golf Saver sat down with Luke Curtis, European Long Drive Competitor and PGA Assistant Professional at The Shire London, to learn more about competing in long drive competitions and how they compare to playing standard professional golf.

My Golf Saver: Hi Luke, thank you for taking the time out to have this conversation. To kick off this interview it would be great if you can tell us a little bit about your experience and how it felt to compete in your first long drive competition.

Luke Curtis: No problem at all! It’s great to catch up. The easiest thing to say is it was like nothing I’d experienced before, and I didn’t know what to expect. It’s very different to the regular professional golf events I’m used to. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, and I was surprised by how long the days were. I remember at my first tournament my biggest struggle seemed to be getting the ball on the tee because my hands were shanking that much! I also didn’t expect to get on so well with all the other competitors.

My Golf Saver: How did you prepare for the competition? Did you do anything different in your usual golf practice routine?

Luke Curtis: Not for my first event. I was just looking to dip my toes in and see what it was all about. I had a lesson with my coach Lee Cox the week before and made some small technical changes but for my last two events, I’ve incorporated speed training 3 times a week. This training usually lasts for about an hour or so, where I hit about 70-100 balls at maximum speed with the driver using a launch monitor to track and beat my previous maximum clubhead speed.

My Golf Saver: How does the experience of playing in a long drive competition compare to playing standard pro golf?

Luke Curtis: Different in the sense of the physical and mental state you have to be in to compete. Long drive requires you to physically and mentally peak to swing as fast as you can. You’re generally looking to hype yourself up and get your heart rate going. Obviously, the format is very different. The formats change in a long drive competition depending on the event but essentially, we are placed in groups and get two sets consisting of 6 balls per set. Out of those 6 balls, your longest ball that finishes in the grid is recorded. If you finish high enough in your group, you progress to the next round and so on until you reach the final.

My Golf Saver: Did you adjust your driver swing in any way?

Luke Curtis: Yes, it’s a different swing entirely which I think is good as I’m able to easily separate the two to be able to switch between playing and long drive. With long drive, there is a lot more movement involved, more turn, longer swing, greater use of levers, the ground and other power elements that allow us to get every ounce of speed and power out of our swings.

My Golf Saver: Would you use the same driver in a long drive competition as you would in a standard game of golf?

Luke Curtis: Definitely not! It’s very different. For long drive, I use a 48-inch driver which is roughly 3 inches longer than a standard off-the-shelf driver you buy from most companies. Shaft stiffness varies in long drive. I’m currently using the equivalent of a regular flex. There’s been a shift a few years ago where you see more long drivers going to soft flex shafts (some as soft as a senior’s flex) to increase loading and unloading of the shaft to increase speed.

I also use a lighter grip at 25g compared to a standard grip which is roughly 50g. Like an F1 car, shaving weight will help you go faster, and the loft of the driver is very different. My long driver head is 4.5 degrees adjusted down to 2.5 degrees. It plays very differently compared to my normal 8-degree, x-stiff, 45-inch driver I play for professional tournaments.

My Golf Saver: If you were to enter the competition again, how would you approach things differently?

Luke Curtis: Going into my next events my aim is to push my club speeds up to 150 mph in practice. This way I can compete with some of the best in the world. This will involve speed training and making some more technical changes with my coach to make my swing more efficient.

My Golf Saver: What tournaments do you have on the horizon?

Luke Curtis: I have 2 events left this season on the European Long Drive Games Tour. I have just come back from the European Long Drive competition in Hungary where I finished 4th. In July, I will be competing at a long drive competition in the UK at Alder Root golf club in Warrington. Feel free to come along and watch, it’s a great atmosphere with food, drinks and good music. There is still another yet to be announced but I will let you know when I know more.

Beyond the European Long Drive competitions, I’m looking to compete in the World Long Drive Championship in the US. This is the one and only major championship if you like of the long drive scene.

My Golf Saver: Wow! Great insights into competing in long drive competitions. We can’t wait to see you at your next competition and will keep in touch.

Luke Curtis: You’re welcome! If you would like to follow me on Instagram, you can do so using @Lukecurtisgolf.

To conclude, we have provided some key facts and stats about Luke’s current long drive journey below:

  • 8th ranked long driver in Europe in 2023
  • Longest drive – 411 yards
  • Max clubhead speed – 146mph
  • Max ball speed – 215mph
  • Follow Luke on Instagram @Lukecurtisgolf to have a sneak peek into competing at long drive competitions and training drills.