Maurice Allen uses vibrant personality, insane drive to rise to No. 1 in World Long Drive

Courtesy of World Long Drive Association

Maurice Allen uses vibrant personality, insane drive to rise to No. 1 in World Long Drive

Professional

Maurice Allen uses vibrant personality, insane drive to rise to No. 1 in World Long Drive

Maurice Allen is tireless.

Fresh off morning interviews at Golf Channel, he’s onto nine holes at Shingle Creek Golf Club. In between answering questions and authoring mammoth blasts, Allen is on the phone amending a sticky flight situation.

That’s nothing. On a regular training day, Allen will be up at 4:30 a.m. and post three gym workouts, hours of drill work and a full range session. When he gets done at 10:30 p.m., he might add in a night run, too.

He’s now 35 years old, but Allen 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 – 5’8”, 230 lbs. and sporting a swing speed that can crack 150 mph – enters this week’s Volvik World Long Drive Championship on a heater, having won his last two World Long Drive events and rising from a season-opening No. 9 mark to No. 1 in the World Long Drive rankings.

He’ll show up in Thackerville, Okla., for the competition, which will air on Golf Channel Tuesday from 9-11 p.m. Eastern and 9-11:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, as the top dog.

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 (the Flair reaction was prompted by a text from a training partner encouraging the long driver to “give him two claps and a Ric Flair” if he won that match).

A performance in front of the cameras? Not at all.

“It’s just something that naturally comes out,” Allen said.

That’s because a searing energy has always enveloped Allen.

Maurice Allen has not held back his thoughts in interviews. (Thomas Cooper/Golf Channel)

The Orlando-area kid 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 & field in 2004 before tearing his hamstring.

A sprinter, Allen says he once ran the 40-yard dash in an estimated 4.08 seconds. He tried his hand at the NFL, but that ultimately didn’t work out. Over several years, he finished a biology degree at Florida A&M. He moved on to getting his doctorate in the chiropractic field at Life University.

Then the allure of long drive intervened. Allen was at a simulator one 2010 day 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 his first long-drive contest later that day, using a driver from former PGA Tour player Kenny Knox, but a problem arose at the event: Nobody could figure out where Allen’s shots were landing.

That is until a marker moved to the end of the range prior to Allen’s final set and heard balls rustling in the trees behind him after each drive.

“That’s why he couldn’t find them before, he was too close up,” Allen said.

How far are we talking? One went 389 yards, in his first competition. Allen would’ve won with ease if any of his balls stayed in play.

Maurice Allen in action (Courtesy of World Long Drive Association)

Regardless, 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 8-12 hours.

“Until my hands bled, until my body fell apart, until ribs came out,” Allen said. “It didn’t matter.”

No exaggeration. Allen’s intensity doesn’t cease.

Allen dedicated himself to hitting 500-1000 balls per day, a mission aided by Life University’s deal with a nearby driving range to allow students unlimited range balls at $25 per quarter.

And he always got his work in. One time, Allen nearly ripped off his right pinkie after slipping on a downswing. The injury made it impossible for a time for him to swing with his trigger finger (his left index) in lock next to that pinkie. Instead of resting, he started swinging with his trigger finger out, pointing straight down to the ground.

His car broke down on another occasion and he didn’t have the money right away to fix it. So twice a day for roughly three weeks, Allen walked close to two miles with three-four drivers in hand to a superstore to hit balls.

As Allen’s long-drive dreams got more intense, Life University took notice. Guy Riekeman, the school’s chancellor, was a proponent of Life University paying for Allen’s expenses for a long-drive season to see where the blossoming talent could go.

It came with a caveat, one Allen didn’t exactly heed.

“I told him to stick in school and do (long-drive stuff) on the side. I was wrong on that one,” Riekeman said, with a laugh.

As it turned out, Allen couldn’t keep up with going to classes. By the time he had finished up that long-drive season – which included trips abroad – he was booted from school and out of money.

For one three-month period in 2012, Allen was homeless – sleeping in his car or on friends’ couches. At charity scrambles he worked, Allen would grab any extra lunches and stack them in his car for future meals.

One of those nights on a friend’s couch, a dog essentially peed where Allen was resting.

“It was like, ‘Dude, you’re sleeping in pee right now. How much worse does it get?’ ” Allen said, with a chuckle.

Eventually, though, it all turned around. Allen’s work ethic and athleticism were always going to get him somewhere.

His track dreams may’ve died when his left Achilles kept nagging him in the years following ’04 trials, but his training there left him with immense strength in his legs – a major source of his extreme power in a 5-foot-8-inch frame.

Football certainly wasn’t his sport – despite being on the South Florida roster as a wide receiver and then a running back, Allen said he had no true knowledge of the positions – but it kept his upper-body strength intact.

The physical talent was overwhelming. Early in his long-drive career, Allen would break five-six drivers per competition due to his power. He was also banned from a driving range because he kept hitting it over a fence that separated the range from a condo area. That fence was more than 400 yards out.

He also set a Guinness World Record in 2012 for ball speed (211 mph).

Maurice Allen, shown during 2016 World Long Drive Championship (Cy Cyr/Golf Channel)

Eventually sponsors came through and Allen saw results, winning three events on the Long Drivers European Tour in 2015 on his way to a No. 1 finish in the tour’s season standings. A year later, he gained more European wins and produced his longest drive in competition to date – a 488-yard blast in Prague – and in 2017 has ascended to No. 1 in the world.

There may be something more to come, too.

Allen, who’s mainly self-taught with his only coach being dentist T.J. Dorsey, currently sports a .7 handicap and has won mini-tour events. He eyes a potential dual career in long drive and tour competition, as he’s contemplating PGA Tour Latinoamerica Q-School.

But as Allen’s profiles rises, his ego won’t inflate.

“The whole time I’ve known him, he’s stayed exactly the same,” Riekeman said. “He’s humble, he’s a really good kid.”

Still, his ambitions are immense. It’s possible Allen could go back to Life University to get a chiropractic degree – Riekeman keeps in touch with Allen and says the long driver would be welcomed back to do so any time.

For now, on top of a potential long drive/tour combo career, Allen feels an obligation to promote the sport of long drive to a new level.

He’s also not content to simply be No. 1 in the world for hitting the ball a long way. Allen talks about being immortal, having an impact long after death.

“I don’t want to be a person who just existed, and then when I’m gone I didn’t make a difference.” Allen said.

To wit, Allen has worked as a motivational speaker and is in the process of trying to organize a tour on this front. He’s also in the works with helping the First Tee. Allen is specifically helping out Pine Hills – the area he grew up outside Orlando – by offering his services for a scholarship. The student in the area (those who go to the Pine Hills Boys & Girls Club or the Carver Shores Boys & Girls Club are eligible) with the highest GPA in his/her final year of high school will earn a $1,000 scholarship. That or if said student gets a 4.0 GPA for the year. If multiple students get a 4.0, they each get $1,000. Allen has joined on for this ensuing school year, with any money for the scholarship(s) coming directly out of his pocket.

He’s also done Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives in the area for nearly three decades. It all started when a 6-year-old Allen noticed one of his friends didn’t get any Christmas presents. Thinking this to be unfair, Allen decided money would be better spent helping others get food rather than on his own Christmas presents.

Maurice Allen showing some of his trademark passion. (Jessica Danser/Golf Channel)

Behind all of the work, the goodwill and the ambition is a heart-warming spirit who once got lost driving in Slovenia for five hours and recalls it as one of his favorite experiences.

Even as Allen busies himself on a hot day at Shingle Creek, he is adamant that being out there for a good time is what’s most important. Allen reiterates the message when he decides to hit a putter off the tee at the par-4 18th, and proceeds to belt a low draw over 300 yards.

Why not? Golf is just a game.

“If you’re not having fun, you can’t be around me,” Allen said.

That should be no problem. With Allen, the fun is just getting started.

– Jeff Babineau contributed to this story

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