Interview with Justin James | World Long Drive Champion

long drive champion

Justin James is not your typical golfer. Why? First, he is built like a line-backer. Second, he’s a significantly accomplished power lifter who made his name in golf with a 435-yard winning shot at the 2017 World Long Drive Championship. Justin is also a 2nd generation Long Drive Champion, as his father, Gerry, won the World Long Drive Masters Division (age 45+) in 2005 and 2006.

6 Questions for Long Drive Champion Justin James

We sat down with Justin, also a CSCS certified coach, to learn more about his background and approach to golf. Here’s what he had to share:

Alongside playing golf and hitting the ball farther than anyone else, you coach several golfers.  What do golfers say when they approach you? 

Well, everyone wants to hit the ball farther and today in golf, distance is huge because golf is changing a lot. Some governing bodies are attempting to limit distance to the point where golf courses are being overwhelmed. I get people picking my brain about what I do to be able to hit the ball so far, and how others can apply it to their game. They ask me, “How can I pick up distance on my driver?”

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see golfers make?

long drive

People swinging robotically and very mechanically.  I played professional baseball for a long time and we always moved athletically. I help people tap into the athletic ability so that they can transfer that into their golf swing. The longest drivers in the world are generally the best athletes, and those athletes are the ones who are able to transfer their athletic ability into swinging a golf club faster. I was a former baseball player so the idea is to think about swinging a golf club the same way you would swing a baseball bat, or the same way you would hit a forehand and backhand in tennis. The key is to use your entire body and leg strength to get more weight into the swing.

What are some of the things you do to build your strength outside your golf game?

I’ve always been a big fan of Olympic weightlifting. I modify it though. I do a lot of power cleans and high pulls, but most important, my entire program is centered around helping me to use the ground better to transfer energy from the ground. The goal is to try to build more strength in my legs and then use that force from the ground athletically.

I do some sprinting, focus a lot on softer mobility and flexibility work, and try to do anything in between, like foam rolling. Most golfers don’t want to do much because of time constraints so I look to customize programs where we get the most efficient results in little time; in other words, give golfers the best bang for their buck. I’m currently working on a content video program that I plan to release in the spring for the everyday golfer.

What do you see most golfers missing in their programs? 

I cannot emphasize recovery enough and we all need more of it. A simple recovery routine will help almost everyone feel better, perform better, and reduce the chance of injury, which I see a lot of. The Marc Pro is one of my secret weapons. I never go to a competition without it. I use the Marc Pro generally for recovery, but if I ever have an injury, it’s my life saver. I truly consider it to be my safety blanket, and while I love massage and I love foam rolling, using my Marc Pro is my ultimate form of normalizing recovery, and the one thing that is always constant. Nothing else flushes out lactic acid like it, and the athletes I work with have also recovered better, and ultimately, performed better because of the Marc Pro.

Anything else you would like to share?

I love watching the sport of Long Drive grow, and helping other golfers embrace the strength building I have used to become a world champion. Golf and fitness are my passions, alongside my family.

And Caddyshack or Happy Gilmore?

Happy Gilmore for me because I was born in the 90s.  Caddyshack was likely too inappropriate for me when I was a kid anyway.

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