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Meet the LPGA star looking to smash records

Meet the LPGA star looking to smash records

Big-hitting Anne Van Dam wants to make history by doing something no woman has done before. Steve Carroll sat down with her
 

It’s now the four-minute mile of women’s golf – and Anne Van Dam says she’s determined to be the first player to crash through the barrier.

No one has ever managed an average driving distance of 300 yards for a season, either on the LPGA Tour or LET.

Big-hitting women are dominating the top of the stats, with the likes of Maria Fassi, Nanna Koerstz Madsen, and Bianca Pagdanganan hitting bombs week-after-week, and Van Dam thinks it’s inevitable the hurdle will soon be successfully jumped.

The Dutchwoman, renowned for her stellar swing and huge carry off the tee, was close in 2021 – averaging 290.8 yards with her Callaway Mavrik driver.

“[Last year] I really tried to be the first person ever and I got really close,” Van Dam told NCG. “I would definitely say that within the next few years we’re going to see someone [do it], which is really cool.

“Once that gets out there, more people see it, and that becomes the standard and the striving goal. More girls are going to hit the ball longer.”

The 26-year-old first arrived on the LET in 2015 and has led both main tours in the driving distance category on multiple occasions.

But even in that short time, which has brought her five victories in Europe, Van Dam said she has seen significant changes.

“If I look back when I came out on tour, the course length, and also how tough the set up was, is a big difference,” she explained.

“You see so many younger girls coming out on tour and, even if I compared to the Dutch Federation and the amateurs, like the men they are really trying to put a lot of effort into it – from a young age – to get a strong physique and to hit the ball long.

“Hopefully, the next 10 years in women’s golf we’re going to see a big transition and I’m very excited for that and if I was a little part of that, it’s great to help grow the game and that be effective.

“It’s cool to come out to these events and really see these girls crush the ball as well. It’s super impressive.”

So what does it take to hit the ball so hard? Van Dam said it began at an early age for her and is a feat that requires constant monitoring.

“It’s something I started when I was young – 14 or 15 years old. You’re just really trying to build a strong physique, build a strong technique, so you can really go all out.

“If you have a terrible technique, and you go all out, it’s going be tough. It’s those two in combination, a lot of technical work, but also a lot of physical work from a young age.

“[It’s] just to be able to learn how to generate speed, but also go out on the range and try to hit the ball very, very, hard.

“It’s a lot of looking after your body – trainers, therapy, and constantly working on keeping your body healthy so you can put in the time in the gym.”

10 years of the longest drivers on the LPGA Tour

Who topped the LPGA’s average driving distance ranking for the last decade?

2022: Bianca Pagdanganan (276.5 yards)
2021: Anne van Dam (290.8 yards)
2020: Bianca Pagdanganan (283.1 yards)
2019: Anne van Dam (283.9 yards)
2018: Yani Tseng (275.0 yards)
2017: Maude-Aimee Leblanc (279.3 yards)
2016: Joanna Klatten (281.4 yards)
2015: Joanna Klatten (274.4 yards)
2014: Brittany Lincicombe (271.5 yards)
2013: Nicole Smith (274.9 yards)

Anne Van Dam was speaking to NCG ahead of the Aramco Team Series at Sotogrande, Spain, from August 18 to 20.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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