Feb 18, 2024

The Episode About Hitting Bombs with Professional Long Driver, Gabi Powel

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Tori is sitting down with professional long driver, Gabi Powel, to discuss her journey from being a competitive athlete in school to playing Division 1 golf in college to competing on the World Long Drive Tour.

They talk about:

  • What a long drive competition is like - the format, equipment used, qualifying process
  • How Gabi got into golf after years of playing basketball
  • Her experience playing college golf and the importance of having support/guidance
  • How she stumbled into her first long drive competition and found immediate success
  • Balancing golf with her passion for content creation and producing
  • Her exciting new golf reality TV show in the works
  • Tips for adding distance off the tee for amateur golfers

Throughout the interview, Gabi provides inspiration through her stories of persevering in golf despite not starting until high school. Her passion for helping other young women pursue their golf dreams shines through as she talks about the Forward Tees Foundation she co-founded.

Gabi's Athletic Background

Gabi grew up playing competitive basketball from a young age:

"I was very competitive in basketball for about seven years. Did the whole travel thing, middle school, high school, everything."

In high school, she started getting recruited to play basketball in college. But the high level of intensity took its toll:

"My body was beat up just because at that level it almost became like tackle football. I was like, no, I can't do this in college."

Looking to switch sports, her mom suggested golf as a way to potentially get a college scholarship, since many go unused. Despite no experience, Gabi decided to give the golf team a shot:

"I went to the range for the first time and actually got the ball in the air. And I was hooked."

Though raw, Gabi's natural athleticism and competitiveness set her up for success in golf. She quickly made her high school team and progressed rapidly.

Transition to College Golf

Gabi credits her mom for putting in the work to help her get recruited for college golf, despite her late start in the sport:

"If it wasn't for my mom doing the research of like how to get a scholarship, because I didn't start at a young age and I wasn't one of the best players in the U.S. I didn't have college coaches coming to me."

Her mom helped compile resumes and scoring records, create swing video highlights, identify events for exposure, and more. Thanks to these efforts, Gabi earned a spot playing golf at Florida International University.

Gabi recognizes this is a barrier for many girls who pick up golf later in life but have the talent and drive to play collegiately. This realization was a catalyst for starting the Forward Tees Foundation to provide guidance and mentorship.

Forward Tees Foundation

While playing college golf, Gabi witnessed firsthand the difference in opportunities and resources afforded to women golfers compared to men. She co-founded Forward Tees alongside friend Hannah Liner to help close this gap.

The foundation provides:

  • Online mentorship program connecting young female golfers (age 13-18) with collegiate players
  • Guidance on the entire process - from getting recruited to understanding college golf expectations
  • Chapters on golf industry topics like networking, personal branding, mental health

In its first year, Forward Tees worked with 15 female junior golfers and 15 female college players. For 2024, they are sponsoring the girl's team at Holy Family High School in Denver. Gabi hopes to continue expanding it to additional schools in the future.

"If they have that passion for golf, they can play in college, whether it's D1 or D3. And that's what we really wanted to show."

Gabi's selfless efforts to grow the next generation of women golfers shows her commitment to progressing the sport.

Stumbling Into Long Drive

After college, Gabi considered playing professional golf. But she realized touring life was not aligned with her passion.

Serendipitously, while helping with social media coverage for a local long drive event, the host encouraged Gabi to compete herself. She agreed, not expecting much success from her first ever long drive competition.

But Gabi shocked everyone by finishing second overall with a 318 yard drive! She was immediately hooked on the adrenaline rush and knew she had found the perfect outlet for her powerful golf swing.

In just two years on the World Long Drive tour, Gabi has already cracked the top five female competitors in the world rankings.

The Ins and Outs of Long Drive Competitions

For those unfamiliar with the format, long drive functions similar to a skills competition:

The Grid

  • 60 yards wide landing zone
  • Ball must land in grid to count as valid drive


  • Points awarded based on drive distance ranking amongst competitors
  • Longest drive gets most points
  • Total points over 5 rounds determines top 8 qualifiers


  • Driver shaft lengthened substantially (up to 48 inches total)
  • More whip and flex added for speed
  • Specialty heads help optimize ball speed


  • Can't sacrifice consistency for too much swing speed
  • Grid accuracy critical to posting score
  • Precise ball contact for maximum distance

It certainly takes a rare combination of length, accuracy, consistency, and nerves to prevail.

Preparing the Body for Long Drive

Generating 120+ MPH clubhead speeds puts intense strain on the body without proper preparation and recovery. When training for competitions, Gabi focuses on:

  • Speed training - Full swing reps (70-100 drives) 3x a week
  • Strength training - Emphasis on legs and core
  • Mobility - Critical to increase flexibility and avoid injury
  • Recovery - Listens to body to prevent overtraining

Proper nutrition and hydration is critical as well during intense training blocks.

"It's important to stay in swing shape," Gabi remarks.

Passion for Content Creation

While committed to keep competing professionally, Gabi is also vigorously pursuing her passion for content creation and production.

She caught the broadcasting bug after co-producing Three Courses, a golf travel series, last year. More opportunities filming golf lifestyle segments reinforced her desire to transition behind the camera.

"I realized like, I'm kind of good at it and I love it at the same time. So I was like, all right, like let's keep going."

This revelation, combined with her natural creativity and charisma, led to the idea for her upcoming ensemble cast golf reality show The Grid. They just wrapped filming of the pilot in December 2023 and have high hopes for a full series order.

The Grid - Reality Golf TV Show

Gabi's face lights up when talking about her new project The Grid - a golf reality competition show unlike anything seen before.

She describes it as a mashup between The Challenge, Survivor, and Big Break, integrating popular reality show elements into a team golf format.

Here's a sneak peek at what viewers can expect:

  • 4 men + 4 women compete in teams of 2
  • Intense golf, drama, and emotions
  • Under the lights challenge rounds
  • Luxurious golf resort setting
  • $100,000+ in cash and prizes

Gabi shares that the fast-paced filming schedule spanned five 14+ hour overnight shoots in early December 2023. Their editing team is currently sorting through over 90 hours of raw footage to produce the high-impact sizzle reel for networks.

"Think of the Challenge, Survivor and Big break with lots of reality drama in the mix," Gabi explains, struggling to contain her excitement.

She hopes to have The Grid ordered to series soon, with an anticipated release in Mid-April 2024 on a major network.

Golf Content Creation Tips

I ask Gabi for advice on consistently creating engaging golf content, a notoriously difficult niche. She stresses first and foremost to stay true to your authentic self:

"Definitely trying my best to really showcase more of me and to share my experiences and my stories I guess authentically and consistently."

In terms of travel content, she aims to become more intentional capturing moments to bring the viewer into the journey rather than just snapshots.

"If I'm in a new city, in a new place, let's get 3 really good reels out of this place."

Lifestyle elements hopes to incorporate include:

  • Behind-the-scenes production life
  • Vulnerable personal stories
  • Relatable family/friend interactions

This raw, unfiltered approach allows the audience to connect on a deeper level.

Big Goal for 2024

Tori asked Gabi to share a scary, uncomfortable goal for 2024. Without hesitation, she says:

"Having the pilot episode [of The Grid] be something that continues on for 20+ seasons is a goal. That's a little scary."

She's clearly infatuated with this project as the centerpiece of her content creation career.

Gain Distance Tips for Amateurs

Wanting to conclude with practical tips for average golfers to gain distance, I ask Gabi her top recommendation.

She suggests two simple adjustments:

  1. Tee ball more forward - Front left of stance
  2. Tilt shoulders back - Helps launch ball higher

This combination promotes hitting up on the ball, maximizing carry distance.

"A big mishit in a lot of amateurs is they tend to top it, not get it up high enough. And when you hit it higher, you can carry it further."

While resisting overload swing changes, these setup tweaks can unlock hidden yards for anyone.

Final Thoughts

Gabi Powel delivers a captivating narrative, punctuated by moments of raw vulnerability and lighthearted humor. Her transparency and authenticity shines through.

From competing professionally to producing TV shows to launching a nonprofit foundation, Gabi is clearly highly ambitious and motivated to make an impact on the world. She has successfully married her two passions - golf and media.

But ultimately her selfless efforts to grow the game, especially for young girls who lack access and resources, may be her most admirable quality. The Forward Tees Foundation has only scratched the surface of the influence it can have guiding generations of future female golfers.

"If they have that passion for golf, they can play in college, whether it's D1 or D3. And that's what we really wanted to show."

If Gabi's inspirational journey thus far is any indication, she is destined for greatness across any endeavor she pursues. I'm certainly rooting for the massive success of The Grid and can't wait to watch the high-stakes drama unfold!

Connect with Gabi Here:


Foward Tees Foundation

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