Reigning Remax Long Drive world champion Ryan Winther will send golf balls into orbit this morning on the Eagle Bend driving range. He is the decided favorite in a field of 24 in the Time Warner Long Drive Championship.
The competition is scheduled to last from 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. A local competition that does not require advance registration and costs $40 to enter will follow and is scheduled to go from 1-4 p.m.
The key to crushing the golf ball?
“You’ve got to swing fast,” Winther said by phone from North Carolina, where he had gone for a photo shoot. “I know that’s really general and plain, but a lot of the amateurs I’ve seen try to swing hard. It’s not about swinging hard, it’s about swinging fast. Swing as fast as you can, trust it, and learn how to hit it straight.”
What’s the difference between swinging hard and swinging fast?
“Swinging harder, your lower body will tend to stop and you try to bring your arms around,” Winther said. “Swinging faster is just moving everything faster with ease, allowing your hips to go a little bit faster, your arms a little bit faster, your shoulders, your chest, your abs. Not harder. You want to stay in balance, maintain a proper finish. But swing fast, let it go.”
But don’t swing so fast as to lose balance, he cautioned.
“You’ve got to build into it,” he said. “Like the way I train for speed. I get loose and I swing fast and every time I go out I have a purpose of swinging faster. Like when you go to the gym and lift weights, every time you go you add a little bit of weight. Every time I go to the range, I add a little bit of speed.”
According to records listed on his website, Winther:
• Has hit the seven longest drives in Remax World Championship history with a long of 469 yards.
• Is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest carry drive (430 yards) on a golf course under 1,000-meter elevation.
• Set a world record for ball speed (226.7 mph) on March 9, 2012, and has had his swing speed recorded at 167 mph.