PHOENIX – Last year at the Canberra Classic in Australia, Laura Davies struck a solid drive and then watched as a fiery youngster from the Netherlands named Anne van Dam smoked one past her. Van Dam paced off the distance between them: 65 yards.
“She’s the longest woman I’ve ever played alongside,” said Davies, “without a doubt.”
On Wednesday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, van Dam set up a TrackMan on the range and got to work with instructor David Dickmeiss. The LPGA rookie loves to get technical about a swing that even a layman can see is something special.
At a practice camp in Abu Dhabi two months ago, the Dutch player scored 97.7 on a TrackMan test, with an average carry of 270 yards and an average dispersion of two yards to the right.
“She has the fastest hip rotation speed that I’ve ever measured on a system,” said Dickmeiss.
Last November, van Dam, who is 5-11, posted a four-second video of her swing on social media that went viral for no other reason than the fact that it’s simply that pure.
The attention caught van Dam, 23, completely off-guard. She has 6,437 Twitter followers and zero desire to gain social media fame.
“I could not care less about that,” said van Dam. “I could delete everything right now.”
There’s an old-school vibe to van Dam. She didn’t think it was right that so many of her European friends were leaving American colleges after one or two years to turn professional. Stay four years or don’t go at all, she thought.
Van Dam opted for the latter, choosing to stretch her final year of high school over two years so that she could play more golf.
She earned her Ladies European Tour card at the age of 18 and has four titles to date, with three of those coming in her last five starts.
“It was nice to see that all my wins were different,” said van Dam of winning from out front, from behind, without her ‘A’ game, and by tearing through the last hour holes in 4 under as she did this year in Canberra.
Currently No. 63 in the Rolex Rankings, van Dam has a 25-point lead in the European Solheim Cup points race. European captain Catriona Matthew played alongside van Dam when she won in Spain.
“Struggle to say I’ve seen a woman hit the ball quite as far and as well as she does,” Matthew said.
Van Dam ranks first in driving distance on the Ladies European Tour this season at 287 yards and 10th in accuracy. She takes pride in the fact that she hits it far, but having so much control over where it’s going is what makes her potential so vast.
“Hitting it everywhere when I was younger makes me very calm in a situation now when I hit it offline,” said van Dam. “I’ve been there so many times, I get so creative. I sometimes find it more fun to hit a shot around a tree than from the middle of the fairway.”
Van Dam’s easy to talk to. There’s a laid-back vibe to her personality off the course, but she can run hot inside the ropes.
“Sometimes I find it hard to accept the weeks when I don’t play that well,” said van Dam, who relies on Dickmeiss to find perspective.
“I do not get people that can play a bad shot and act like it’s all normal,” she said. “I don’t get that. I really don’t get that.”
That’s part of the journey for van Dam – finding the right balance between fire and calm. No doubt the effort will be there.
“I work incredibly hard,” she said, “if I can say that for myself.”
The main area of focus these days, Dickmeiss said, is from 125 yards and in. She does not take enough advantage of her distance, three-putting too often after having a wedge in her hand.
It’s not just golf that’s got van Dam excited about 2019. With boyfriend Roelof Koopmans on the road with her as caddie, she looks forward to finding something new to explore at each stop.
Koopmans played golf in Europe until injuries got in the way. Van Dam said he’s exceedingly laid back and practically impossible to impress.
“You could hit the most incredible shot of your life,” she said, “and he would just get your club and start walking.”
The same goes for bad shots too, making him a calming force.
Coming in as a top amateur in Europe, van Dam thought it would be easy to win as a rookie on the LET. But she barely kept her card.
The experience keeps her confident but humble heading into her rookie season on the LPGA. Van Dam likes the fact that she can go about her business in relative anonymity on this side of the world.
For now, at least. Gwk