On this week’s Stick & Hack Show, World Top 10 Long Driver Alex Phillips talked to us about getting into Long Drive, Bryson DeChambeau, the WLDA and PLDA, and the key to gaining distance on your swing. 

The following excerpt has been edited for clarity. Listen to the rest of the episode here.

Alex Phillips grew up around athletics in Reno, Nevada, learned to play golf at a young age, which helped her earn a scholarship to play at the division one level in college. She played four years on the team at Cal Poly, having some success as a player and later as a coach. But it wasn’t until after graduation that Alex got her start in long drive. Alex finished top four in her first world long drive championship appearance in 2015 and has held on to a top 10 ranking ever since. 

SH: Did you know the history of long drive coming in?

Alex:I didn’t know the full history, no,  but it was pretty cool that 2015 was my first year, and that was the first time it was really big and televised. And it was in Thackerville, Oklahoma, which is a place.

SH: You’re a long drive star. At some point, you just decided you were done with the short game and instead you just wanted to be a long ball hitter? How did that work, and why did you just decide to switch gears?

Phillips: So after I graduated from college I had knee surgery, and it took me a little longer to recover than I had originally expected. I wasn’t super stoked on my golf game at the time, so I wasn’t really playing, I was coaching.

Because I was coaching, I went to The PGA Show. Demo day at Orange County National is an awesome experience, with the 360-degree driving range, and I’m long. I’ve always been long. I mean, I now have the resume of “Top 10 in the World,” but even back then, I had to go long. But I was at the PGA Show, and there was this girl behind me out hitting me. I was standing there thinking, “dang, who’s that?”

I turn around and on her badge, it says “2013 World Champion.” But I noticed that I could kind of keep up with her. We started talking and she became a really good friend. She talked me into competing later that year. And that was kind of how I got into it. Because Heather Lemaster said I could do this.

SH: What’s your magic formula for blasting the ball? Is it club speed? Is it lower body training?

Alex Phillips: I am very lucky that I have a very good golf swing. I’m very efficient; I am the smallest competitor in the top 10. So pound for pound, I have to be really long. I have to have an efficient golf swing, right? I have to be efficient because I’m never going to be the fastest or the strongest or the biggest. 

Getting equipment that’s fit for you is huge. In long drive, you can go up to 48 inches. That’s kind of been a big talk in the USGA lately, especially with Bryson going to a big shaft. For me, I only go to a 47 Because I am short. If I go over 47, if I go to the 48, it starts becoming inefficient for me. So yes, I have the longer shaft. Yes, with the longer shaft you have the longer arc, you have more time to gain clubhead speed. But if you’re not hitting the ball centered, and you’re not being efficient with your golf swing, you don’t have a chance. So that’s my biggest thing.

SH: We see that a lot that even in pro golfers that hit the ball a long way, they don’t all look like Bryson. And they don’t all look like Tiger. Some of them are very, very small, compact individuals, both female and male. You have to figure out what works for you and works for your swing. 

I know it looks like you just kind of get up there you rock back and forth, and you whammy the ball. I know there’s more to it. So can you divulge the secrets of what you and your competitors are doing out there on that range? Because it looks phenomenal.

Alex Phillips: The biggest thing that long drivers work on is their weight transfer. That’s the big thing that you saw, that rocking back and forth. You see Kyle Berkshire do it pre-shot because he’s training his body to use the ground and to use the weight transfer. 

The other big thing that I have to do is in the back of my swing, I have my hands really high. Again, I’m perfectly average. But I’m very short for long drive terms. And so in getting those hands high, separating the hand and the body – it almost cheats physics a little bit. The higher your hands. The longer the arc, the longer the arc the more time you have to gain clubhead speed. So being 5’5, if I stand up tall, I just don’t have that much time to gain that kind of speed. So what I teach and what I do is get those hands high in the backswing and you’ll see that in my swing. 

That’s the big thing that I see amateurs do. They have those hands real close to their body, they have the arm shortened. If you get those hands extended, you can kind of just grow that circle so that you have more time to gain clubhead speed. That’s going to be the best and easiest way to kind of grow that clubhead speed and with more clubhead speed, obviously more ball speed.

SH: You’ve mentioned Bryson DeChambeau a few times, and he’s been a pretty prominent personality not only for his long drive but also for coming in and saying hey, “here’s the math equation of how I how I play golf.” Are those the types of personalities that you mix with every day, the Bryson’s of the world, or would he be considered an outlier even in your circles?

Alex Phillips: Bryson’s been great. He’s bringing a lot of eyes to long drive. He is definitely a personality, but he sets his goals and he tries to reach them. There’s a lot of those guys in long drive as well. 

Some of the guys played in the Major League Baseball and foreign leagues, so they have to learn all of this stuff. Bryson’s very lucky that he came from golf. He can work the ball, and he understands golf. So when he starts seeing the numbers, and what they produce, he’s able to figure out what he needs to do to get there. 

If you tell someone that doesn’t know anything about golf that they need a higher attack angle, they don’t know what that is. Bryson’s easy. He has that golf history and that golf knowledge, and he’s definitely a character, but he’s been great. 

It’s been a very interesting time in long drive since the Golf Channel went away from it. That’s one reason you’re not seeing it on TV as much. They’re not really broadcasting the WLDA anymore, so it’s kind of separated into the PLDA and it’s a little different competing right now. 

SH: Explain that, because it sounds like a cart to IndyCar kind of shift. And there’s politics and broadcast rights and money involved. Can you get into that without putting yourself into a bit of a spot?

Alex Phillips: Hmm, yes and no. One, the Golf Channel bought the World Long Drive Association, so they have the rights. That’d be like saying the Golf Channel bought the PGA Tour, and then stopped hosting events. Now they have the rights to the WLDA and everything with it, all the big sponsors and so on, and they’re not hosting events. 

So the PLDA came up, which would be like the Korn Ferry Tour or even more like the Dakotas Tour. So are Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, or Bryson DeChambeau going to compete on the Dakotas Tour just because it’s the only tour available? I don’t know. They’re used to playing for $2 million purses. They’re not used to $5,000 Winners checks. That’s kind of what happened to the WLDA. Especially on the women’s side. 


The WLDA had sponsors. We actually had a purse that was worth competing and traveling for. We went to Thackerville, Oklahoma, places like that. Now we have to go to places like that, and the purse isn’t there because the eyes aren’t there. The sponsorships aren’t there, because the Golf Channel still has the rights to WLDA. 

So now the PLDA is trying to grow, but there’s no purse. If there’s no purse, who wants to compete? And if there’s no one competing, there’s no purse. It’s a really bad Catch 22 right now. 

There’s still a lot of competitors on the men’s side. I mean, Bryson did great. He got top eight, he did really well. But 20 of the top 50 guys weren’t there. That’s just what it is.

There’s a lot of guys who couldn’t get here from overseas because of COVID restrictions. But, are a lot of those guys going to try to compete when the purse isn’t what it used to be? It’s kind of an interesting situation for a long drive right now.

SH: It’s baffling to hear because this is the most popular long drive has been in our lifetime. Is there an answer? How do we get you guys out there competing week after week and bringing the fans in, because it is remarkable to watch.

Alex Phillips: I mean, one of the big things is getting more competitors, especially on the lady side. There’s not a lot of information out there. You know, I have women reach out to me on social media all the time, saying they want to compete. But they don’t know what’s competitive, as far as stats go. 

The guys have buy-ins, and they have smaller events to kind of learn and grow, and to see if they’re competitive yet. They see Kyle’s numbers. We just don’t really have that on the women’s side.

But then I have other people, like, Konami just got into the sport. She’s new and she won her first time because she’s long, but she didn’t know that she was competitive. She was from a smaller area and she thought she hit the ball far but she didn’t know. I think getting that kind of information out is going to be huge because once you have that, you’re pretty close to having more competitors. 

The good news is the PLDA is doing a lot of events in more accessible places this year. You know, Mesquite, Nevada is a great place, partly because I’m a Nevada girl, but also because everyone can get to Vegas. It’s $29 for a flight, it’s super easy. You can get to Mesquite really easily. 

SH: You talked about fitness in golf. Walk us through your training regimen and the key things that you do to improve your speed and distance every day.

Alex Phillips: You ready? Yoga. That’s literally it.

I went through phases, I did powerlifting. I put up a 300 pound squat. I got very strong. When I did that I didn’t have the mobility. My swing got shorter. Again, as I talked about, I’m too small to have a shortened swing, I have to do as much as I can. So yoga has been phenomenal. 

It started with COVID. Here in Vegas, everything shut down for a month. No golf, no gyms, nothing, right. And everyone’s told me to do yoga my whole life. They’re like, “You should do it. It’s good for you.” And I thought that sounded ridiculous. 

I thought I was going to prove that yoga doesn’t work. That’s all I did for a month, I did yoga. That’s it. I gained 10 yards, and I got really mad about it. 

So that has been just huge, in my workouts. I add it to all of my training clients, I make them do some type of yoga interactions. Yes, I still lift weights, yes, I still do all of the other things, but if you’re going to do one thing, do yoga. 

SH: Your charity is big for you, Alex, and you have some events where you go out and people try to out-drive you. What is the situation with your charity work? And also what is the percentage of times that you’ve been out-driven by some guy named Trent who was there for a corporate retreat?

Alex Phillips: It’s usually “Braden”, now, actually. No, I’m kidding.
Yeah, it’s super fun. I get to travel and work with different organizations to raise money for charities. People pay to try to out-drive me on a tee, mostly because I don’t look like what you expect a long driver to look like. 

We talked about Bryson and how he put on that weight and everything. That’s what people are expecting. I am five foot five and a half if I stand up on my toes. I wear the short skirt and everything and people are like who are you? And I’ll say, “I’m the long driver”, and they don’t believe it. 

I don’t look like that, so it’s a lot of fun to out-drive a lot of the guys out there and it’s more fun when I come in afterward. We’re doing the dinner, and there’s a couple of guys like “Oh, I out-drove the long driver” and people will ask, “oh yeah, who’s that?” And they point to me and realize yea, it’s a lose-lose for you buddy.

SH: Alex, we’ve got the Stick and Hack Challenge coming up in May in French Lick, Indiana and we’re trying to work it out for you to be there because I think that’ll be awesome. Knowing our members, I can see that that scene that she just described play out time and time again. Alex Phillips, top ten long driver in the world, here on the Stick & Hack Show. 

To listen to the rest of the episode, including Alex’s take on Arnold Schwarzenegger, click here.