Troy Mullins didn’t grow up playing golf. But when she started, she learned a few things: She wanted to help others in the game, she wanted to be successful.
Troy Mullins is not an athlete. Her proper fit is a Heptathlete while an undergraduate at Cornell, Mullins performed in the 200-meter, 800-meter, 100-meter hurdle, high jump, long jump, shot put and the javelin throw. She is an Ivy League graduate who works as an academic tutor, speaks four languages (English, Spanish, Mandarin and Sign) and enters Long Drive tee boxes to the sound of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” – is living proof that it only takes one well-struck ball to fall in love with golf, no matter who you are or where you’re from.
As she began embarking on a new journey into golf, she started to notice how far she can hit the ball and with more practice, she started entertaining the idea of long-driving, but it was a risky move. Being a long-driver is all about hitting the golf ball as far as you can by driving it with the swing of your golf club. When she decided to meet with a long driving coach, he cautioned her that if she went this route, she would no longer be labelled as a “golfer.” His warning kept Troy at bay for only so long, as she knew that this was a new avenue that she was willing and ready to explore.
So in 2012, Troy decided to enter a long driving contest as a golfer instead of a long driver, and she ended up taking second place. And at that moment, her new career in long driving began. Even with such an astounding win, five years went by before Troy decided to enter another contest and in 2017, she entered the World Long Drive Mile High Showdown and won, even breaking a world record, solidifying her position as a World Long-Drive champion. “My aspiration is to still be on tour. I love golf and I love all aspects of it so being able to hit the ball really far and do all these long drive contests is just a plus,” Troy explained.
If anything, Mullins wants to serve as an example.
“Golf isn’t just a boring old-man sport,” she tells the young men and women she tutors. “It can be feminine, or it can be younger.”
But right now, it’s not any cheaper. Sure, race and gender play important roles in the “Grow the Game” effort, but there are few things more challenging for young, aspiring golfers than the sport’s cost.
“It’s expensive,” Mullins answers right away when asked about youth participation. “Most of the time when people get into golf, they have access to a club. They have a parent that plays. Otherwise, most people don’t gravitate to the sport without familial introduction unless they’re older and retired.
“Because golf is an expensive game. It’s expensive to get into. It’s $10 every time you want to go hit balls, not to mention equipment, greens fees are expensive, clothes, for sure.”
The next chapter in Mullins’ own golf journey will unfold this summer as she tries to mix some mini-tour starts with her Long Drive commitments and her job, her real life. For now, there’s little time for anything but work and golf, but Mullins isn’t shrinking from the challenge.
“I’ve had to work so hard,” she says. “I have to work almost seven days a week to afford golf. I love golf, but it’s not paying the bills at this point. Until I’m on tour, until I’m sponsored, it’s a lot of sacrifice.
“My girlfriends don’t understand,” she adds, laughing again. “They tell me, ‘You don’t hangout, you don’t do anything.’
But whether she’s golfing or sipping tea with friends, one thing’s for sure, Troy is leaving behind a legacy by laying down the foundation for other young black girls who are wanting to pursue golfing and don’t instantly see themselves doing that.