Congratulations, Joe. How do you like the sound of these phrases: “2010 RE/MAX World Long Drive Champion” and “World’s longest driver”?
I’m still getting used to it. It hasn’t sunk in yet.
Talk us through that huge 414-yard drive you hit in the RE/MAX finals against Domenic Mazza.
I knew I had to hit a big ball against Domenic in the final, he had been killing it all week. Fortunately, I got hold of the second ball. I know it took a lucky bounce down the right side, but we all need a bit of luck.
Before you got to Mazza, though, you had to take down the two-time defending champion, Jamie Sadlowski, in the semifinals. What was the key?
The key was just to hit my best ball. I always wanted to go against Jamie in the finals because he is known as the best and to be the best you have to beat the best. I knew if I hit my ball he would have to kill it to go beyond me.
By the way, you set a record for margin of victory in the RE/MAX WLDC Open Division finals against Mazza, a whopping 43 yards. Impressive stuff.
Like I said, Domenic had been killing it all week. To beat him by 43 yards is just crazy.
Entering the Last Chance Qualifier, getting into the main draw and then detouring through the losers bracket, who better than you to attest to the fact long drive is a marathon not a sprint, correct?
It was a marathon that went on all week for me. I was straight into the losers bracket both in the Last Chance and in the main event. I don’t think I’ve ever hit more golf balls than I did during championship week.
Did fatigue ever set in? Physical or mental? When?
Not really. I was aching after the Sunday Last Chance but after that I was fine throughout the week.
We remember back to 2005 when Art Sellinger came back from the European championship in Ireland and told LDA staffers he’d just seen a kid who would one day be world champion. Art was talking about you, of course.
That weekend was the start of my career in long drive, I won the Irish championship on Saturday and then won the RE/MAX European long drive on Sunday. Lucky for me Art was there for the championship and took me under his wing.
Were you feeling overdue for a monster performance in Mesquite?
Absolutely. I have been coming to Mesquite for 5 years now with no real success except for the top 8 finish in 2008. I knew I had a good finish in me one day, it was just a matter of when.
How much bigger are you now than you were when you started in this sport?
I was thinking about this the other day, actually. I think I was 175 pounds back in 2005, about the same as Jamie and Domenic, and now I’m touching 270-plus.
Do you attribute that growth to the long hours in the gym? How much iron do you pump, anyway?
It’s not just from being in the gym. I train 5 days a week but it’s also the amount of food and protein I eat and the hours of cardio I do. I’m not saying it works for everyone, but for me it works. I’ve been training since the age of 15 and each year I’ve gotten bigger and stronger and my swing and ball speeds have gone up as well.
Where and how did you get the nickname “The Total Package”? Who gave it to you?
My ex-girl friend. No, only joking. I was hitting with some guys on the velocity launch monitor in 2007 and I was getting some good numbers on my ball speed, club speed, launch angle and spin. Someone came out with “this kid is the total package” and it just stuck after that.
What’s on the horizon? More gigs through Long Drivers of London?
Hopefully. I’m looking forward to what this year will bring and the opportunities. I know Adam Stacey will be keen to work hard this year and the two of us together should be a good combination.
Do you have a website to use to book your outings? Or a number where people can ring you up?
Website is www.longdriversoflondon.co.uk. There’s a phone number on there.
What are your plans for the $150K in prize money?
I really want to buy a Lamborghini but I have to be sensible. Maybe I’ll put a deposit on a house.
Any shout-outs at this time?
A big thanks to Art and all his LDA team, they work so hard all year. Also to Mike Reagan at RE/MAX International and to Dick’s Sporting Goods for their sponsorship. Lastly to my dad, Danny, who passed away August of this year from cancer. He was the one that got me into golf, long drive and the gym. He taught me everything I know and made me the way I am today. I dedicate this title to him, and if he was watching the final I know he would be proud of me.
Enjoy your reign as world champion, Joe.
Thank you. I hope it will last for many years to come.