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Mullins is arguably most famous for winning the World Long Drive competition in 2017 – bombing the ball an outstanding 402 yards (at the
time it was a new world record for the longest drive by a female). For perspective, most male pro golfers average a drive distance of
approx. 295 yards. Troy quickly became a golfing sensation and effectively set the stage for even bigger things to come in her golfing
Backstory: Troy Cherie Mullins has always been an awe-inspiring sportswoman, first as a successful heptathlete (and academic scholar) at Cornell University and then as one of the most powerful female golfers ever known. Nicknamed the Trojan Goddess, a moniker she part earned running track as a kid- (her coach used to call her Trojan because of her name, Troy) and then when she started hitting balls at the college driving range, a bunch of locals began calling her the ‘golf goddess’.
Mullin’s transition from World Long Drive competitor to an in-demand golf commentator, host and presenter has been a blessed journey. She relishes the opportunity to promote the game to a massive audience and is comfortable (though unassuming) with her rock star role model status among golfing minorities.
Troy made time between a packed touring schedule to speak with Women’s Golf magazine about her love for the game, LIV tournament highlights, the pros and cons of social media/being a popular golf lifestyle influencer and to share critical tips about how you can obtain more power in your drive and start sending balls into orbit.
You were a college athlete competing as a top-level runner and a heptathlete, what made you move into
Being a college athlete was tough. My major was Chinese-Asian studies and I’d spend a semester in DC and then do a semester, the following year, in China. When I went back to DC, it was our indoor season and I was trying to manage everything but having little time to get back into training. At that time, I started to focus on being a full-time student, rather than a student-athlete. The next spring, I tried to come back into athlete mode, but I wasn't anywhere near my usual capability and ended up slightly pulling a hamstring, which didn't allow me to compete. In senior year I said, “Okay, I think time is running out for me. I'm going to be in China for summer and fall. So what now?” Deep down I knew I didn't want to stop being an athlete so I kept trying new sports. I went from volleyball, back to track. I went from being a sprinter to trying different heptathlon events and I worked out that I really enjoyed the process of learning about different sports. I then started playing golf, immediately loved it and here we are now.
Your father Billy Mullins was a world-class sprinter. Is the whole family just athletic or just you
My youngest sister is right into water polo and my younger sister is a great runner. Dad always had this dream that one of his five children would fulfill that track destiny. We’re all pretty fast and most of the family is athletic. He was just so passionate about sprinting. Everybody has their heart in something, right? We each have our sport and all realise that while dad would have preferred us to have focused on track and field, he’s happy with our choices.
What’s happening with World Long Drive comps lately?
I don't do World Long Drive anymore. Once the Golf Channel dissolved its involvement in 2020 (citing logistical difficulties with travel etc. due to the pandemic) a lot of the top women in the world at the time just weren't competing, I didn't feel like it was the same event.
In saying that, there are a couple of things that have recently changed. The Golf Channel is now supporting it again and I think it's coming back to what it was. Those last few years just weren’t the same for me. I really enjoyed it while it was at its peak, being one of the pioneer women when we were finally getting televised. It was fantastic to showcase that women can hit it that far and it was a lot of fun.
What are your tips for achieving a more powerful drive?
It's funny. I trained doing speed drills when I first started golfing, just because that's how I knew how to train. From a strength-building perspective, I think it's dependent on the person.
In terms of equipment, it is so important to find a driver that works for you. If you want to hit it a long way, it has to have the right shaft. Lots of people don't know that when you go to buy a driver off the rack it comes with a standard, very standard, regular stiff or extra stiff. But within those, there's a lot of variety and also the ability to have more flex in the shaft. More flex works to create a trampoline-like effect.
In terms of your swing, it's really about having the ability to wind up your body, creating torsion from your core and your hips and extension in your backswing. You want full extension, meaning your hips are fully turned, your chest is fully turned and, if you can, getting your arms back as far as possible.
“If you’re going solely for distance, the phrase ‘tee it high, let it fly,’ works pretty much across the board. You want to hit up on the ball, so it flies high, because the faster it comes down, the sooner it stops. That’s just inertia”.
What equipment are you using?
I came into the sport pretty late compared to other professionals and I was trying to find equipment sponsorship via Long Drive, exposure-wise. Anyway, one of the first few companies that reached out was PING, which I love. I've recently re-established that relationship and honestly, to me, that company has one of the best family kind of vibes going. They really care for their players. They're very attentive and detail-oriented. When they send my equipment, I receive a list of all of the specs and they're on top of where you’re currently at and how you're progressing - I think that is really important.
Throughout the bag during my Long Drive career, I was playing with PING and I think my golf was better than my long drive. However, when I was really excelling in Long Drive, I was using a Callaway driver. If you look at what Bryson Dechambeau just did, shooting 58, it demonstrates that there are drivers that are much better for certain swing speeds and that work with what you're trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, back when I first signed to PING, it limited my ability in what I was able to do in Long Drive.
Basically, I received a slew of bad advice in terms of my management at the time and thought that moving away from PING in order to find the balance between Long Drive and playing would benefit me. Looking back, leaving the PING team wasn’t an ideal move, but I still don't think there's one company that does great for everything, nevertheless, I could have managed it better.
Thankfully, right now, I’m back playing PING and super happy with where my golf game is. I'm not sponsored by them but I'm very happy to have that relationship again. Overall, PING is a huge supporter of women’s golf and has been since the ’70s.
What's life on the LIV tour like?
It's a lot. It's nonstop. Once we touch down on site, it's creating content, creating videos, watching and working with players and that's just the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Then, come Friday, we've got our rehearsals, then we have broadcasts and then we do the interviews.
It’s a lot of fun. I've started doing a post-game show where I get to work with some of the top players on a lot of the technicalities in their swings. It’s funny because I've begun to incorporate a lot of it into my own game.
By the time I get home from an event, I'm ready to just crash. It may be a lot but it's wonderful to have not only access to but a relationship with these players. I admit seeing them in a different way than they were on the PGA Tour is a lot of fun.
What was your LIV Adelaide and overall experience of Australia like?
It was my first time in Australia. I loved Adelaide and it was one of my favourite cities that we've visited on the LIV tour so far. I had dinner a lot in the Chinatown district when I was there. I also went out to the wine country which was beautiful. What I loved most about this city, and Australia in general, was how many outdoor activities there were for public use. This was noticeable during the trips from the hotel to the golf course and I thought it was pretty striking. There were so many parks, huge ovals, and golf courses. To me, those facilities promote a healthy lifestyle. When you're driving in LA, you don't see that. You mostly see fast food outlets. The Australian environment and lifestyle seemed to encourage being outdoors and it felt like a cool place for kids to grow up in. Hanging out with the koalas was pretty fun too.
Social media, friend or foe? Are you morally
aware of your role as an influencer?
I'm definitely aware. I have younger sisters and when I was younger, my siblings would always want to go through my Instagram. Back then, I used to follow a bunch of golf girls and unfortunately there were some images of golf girls that I didn't want my siblings to see. I’d go to these charity events in LA and it was always like the pinup golf girls and there was still that element of ... hmmm … “What's the nice way to say it? Sexualizing women in the space.” I've always been aware of trying not to do that. But in the same vein, I am a woman and I enjoy my body. I have a very athletic physique so it's hard to hide certain assets, but I don't try to promote that. Do I have fun sometimes and enjoy cute outfits? Yes.
There is a fine line in the social media space between encouraging young women to become involved in sports and commercially balancing sponsorship needs etc. For example, I'll put out a story about how at times it has been difficult for me as a woman in broadcasting to navigate mostly male-dominated arenas. Then, I’ll follow up with, “Hey, today, you know what? I had a small victory.” So, I think some of the things I post and promote are important for women and young girls. Ultimately, if I had to choose friend or foe in regard to social media, I'd go with frenemy.
I'm very grateful for social media for allowing me to share my love for golf and promote it in a way that I want it to be seen, which is great. But it is difficult for someone who's private and also knows that it's what sells. Sex sells on social media. It can be a conflict. I’m trying to find my own space and be taken seriously because I enjoy moving forward in my career, whether that is in broadcasting or whatever's next.
Looking back at my early career, things were so different in the market and in the golf social space. I never saw myself as an influencer and I still don't, in the sense that I don't feel like I create content. I feel that my life is the content.
You're a role model for women of colour and golfing minorities as a whole. How do you manage that
responsibility and how do you help create opportunities to both encourage younger women into golf and to make our sport more inclusive?
I feel that I maintain my personal values and that is important. I think women can go in any direction with that but I always aim to present myself in a respectful manner and represent golf proudly.
I get to share special experiences with the public and I've had some tough experiences in the golf space too - the latter I'll share one-on-one. Outside of social media, I have a really great relationship with a lot of young African American girls and women and it’s been fun to develop and share stories. I met a mixed family a few years back. The dad is black and the mum is white and they have three girls and a boy. Anytime I get cool products sent to me, I'll send stuff on to them or I'll look at their swings and give the kids tips.
It is fun to have these relationships from social media and it’s very organic. If you do things from the heart, it doesn't matter who knows about it.
LIV has a program called Potential Unleashed and while it's not part of my broadcast deal, I enjoy being a part of it. In the past week, I was with Hope Through Education with Bryson Dechambeau and Anirban Lahiri's Impact Program. Those guys do a lot of good work. They're one of the teams that do the most charity clinic impact programs, not just with kids.
If there's an opportunity, I always try to attend Black British Golfers with Bubba Watson and Harold Varner in London too. I like to be a part of those because they always need hands.
It's fun just to be in the background. I make an effort to stay out of the camera's way when I'm at those events because it's not about me. I'm not there to be seen. I am there because I want to be. When kids find that black women play golf and realise there are other minorities are out there in the world, it's really cool.
What’s your fitness routine?
Well, I want to do more. In the last year on the road with LIV, it's been tough to keep things consistent. To be honest, it's fair that sometimes we go through lulls as athletes. I was telling my husband recently that I'd trained my entire life and felt like I just needed a break. To me, that meant dropping a routine and all I did was some jogging and tonal exercises - the least I've ever done in my life!
When I was training with Long Drive, I'd go from spinning in the mornings to a Pilates class in the afternoon and then sometimes I would do a HIIT class or a tonal or a bit of kickboxing. So I like to mix it up.
Being golf fit is so weird - you want the power from the ground, but you also need flexibility and you're walking out there a lot so you need stamina too. People think golf is a leisure sport and well, yes. If you're a high handicap and strolling the fairways, it is. But there is a lot of bodywork involved when you're trying to be really powerful on course.
Tell us about your relationship with adidas
I can tell you that before Adidas, I had ties with a brand (that I won’t name) whose clothing I loved and had a symbiotic relationship with in the sense that I adored their outfits and I gave them style choices that I'd like to see. I began sharing my creative with them. Initially, it was all great and the clothes were very much a part of my style. However, things changed in the world of golf influencing and the brand shifted and withdrew support of their female golfers. I had conversations with other female ambassadors of theirs who said they weren’t paying properly, or at all. The women were devalued in that space for sure. Ethically, I made my decision to move on.
Moving over to Adidas was exciting but I wasn't quite sure at the beginning because I saw them as only having traditional golf clothing, but I quickly realised that nowadays there’s plenty of stylish gear to pick from. I love Adidas! Our relationship is great because they are so attentive, and family-oriented and they have a very strong female team. Same vibe I have with PING, right?
Adidas is very supportive. If there's anything that I want to do in the community, like the family I mentioned to whom I was sending the products, they support it. When Adidas found out that I'd been taking it out of my own gear, they said, “You don't have to do that. We'll support them. Tell us who we can support.”
They're always willing to come on board as a sponsor at events I suggest or if I want to put on a clinic. Overall, the brand is involved and supportive of all female athletes and in sharing our stories, which is really cool because you don't always get that. Now we're starting to see different styles and different fabrics and awareness of our cultures, our society and in sustainable initiatives.
What golf course delivered the best ‘pinch me’ moment at tee off?
Well, my pinch-me moment in general was I went to Northern Ireland. We played a lot of beautiful courses there. I loved Royal Portrush and I played Portstewart too. That entire trip was very cool.
Any bucket list golf destinations left for you?
So many! Obviously, other parts of Australia make the list. I would love to go to St. Andrews, so you can add Scotland too. I'd love to play the entire continent of Africa, which I've never visited. New Zealand for sure and I mean, I could even keep going just in California – there are at least 250 out here and I've probably been to 10.
Words: Roxanne Andrews