Editor’s Note: This story appeared in the Sept. 5 digital issue of Golfweek. Here’s a lengthened version of the story.
Fresh off morning interviews at Golf Channel, Maurice Allen is onto nine holes at Shingle Creek Golf Club. Between answering questions and sending forth mammoth blasts as he prepares for this week’s Volvik World Long Drive Championship, Allen is on the phone amending a sticky flight situation.
That’s nothing. On a regular training day, he is up at 4:30 a.m. and posts three gym workouts, hours of drills and a full range session. When he gets done at 10:30 p.m., he might add a night run, too.
Allen, 35, says he can’t grant himself rest until he’s fully satisfied.
“When I go to bed, can I say I’ve done everything that I can do to be the best?” Allen said. “You earn sleep after you’ve accomplished your goal.”
That attitude has rocketed him to the spotlight. Allen – 5-foot-8 and 230 pounds, sporting a swing speed that can crack 150 mph – enters this week’s World Long Drive Championship having won his last two World Long Drive events and rising from a season-opening No. 9 ranking to No. 1 in the world.
Think PGA Tour players hit it a mile? Sure, Dustin Johnson can stick one out there 350 yards, maybe a little farther. Allen can knock it more than 100 yards past that.
Allen never thought about being No. 1 until it happened, and yet he’s taken to center stage as if Broadway ran in his blood.
Allen made national news in June when he declared in a TV interview that long drivers are the world’s best athletes. A month later he belted a 483-yard drive at the Mile High Showdown – an event he would win – and afterward gave an animated, on-air Ric Flair impression that made the rounds.
“It’s just something that naturally comes out,” Allen said of his showmanship.
The Orlando-area resident with the searing energy has been an athlete his entire life. He walked on as a receiver at the University of South Florida and was set for U.S. Olympics trials in track and field in 2004 before tearing his hamstring.
A sprinter, Allen once ran the 40-yard dash in an estimated 4.08. He tried his hand at the NFL, but that didn’t work out. Over several years he finished a biology degree at Florida A&M and moved on to getting his doctorate in the chiropractic field at Life University.
Then the allure of long drive intervened. Having never been a golfer, Allen was at a simulator in 2010 when a friend bet him he wasn’t athletic enough to hit a golf ball. Allen bashed a 7-iron 230 yards. He was in a long-drive contest later that day and would’ve won with ease if any of his balls stayed in play.
He was hooked. And in classic Allen spirit, he went full bore. Essentially new to golf at age 28, Allen hit balls on the range daily for 8 to 12 hours.
“Until my hands bled, until my body fell apart, until ribs came out,” Allen said. “It didn’t matter.”
For one three-month period, Allen was homeless – sleeping in his car or on friends’ couches. At charity scrambles where he worked, Allen would grab any extra lunches and stack them in his car for future meals.
His determination eventually produced results, and his ambitions continue to expand.
Allen sports a 0.7 handicap and has won mini-tour events. He eyes a potential dual career in long drive and tour competition, and he’s contemplating PGA Tour Latinoamerica Q-School.
His fire never ceases, and any killjoys can take a hike.
Said Allen: “If you’re not having fun, you can’t be around me.”
– Jeff Babineau contributed to this story
(Note: This story appeared in the Sept. 4, 2017 issue of Golfweek.)