Glasgow ace Ilona heading for Long Drive finals in Oklahoma - thanks to the Scottish Golf Show!
By Martin Inglis
WHAT started with a routine trip to the Scottish Golf Show is something Ilona Stubley hopes could herald the start of a new career path.
The 33-year-old went along to the SEC in Glasgow with her dad, David, in March after ten years away from the sport to check out the latest products available for the 2017 season.
Having always been a big-hitter, Ilona decided to try her hand at the American Golf Long Drive simulator, topping the leaderboard with a 274-yard effort. The reward was a trip to the American Golf Long Drive National Final at Heythrop Hall and after hearing she’d qualified, she started to take things a lot more seriously.
“To be honest, it was only after I qualified I realised Long Drive was such a big thing,” admitted Ilona, who is just 5ft 6in. “I Googled it and watched videos of the competition in America. I saw the distances the girls hit it over there and realised I had a lot of work to do.
“I’m really competitive so when I knew I was going to be at the finals, I wanted to do everything I could to win and basically see how good I could get.
“Initially, I was just in the gym myself but I got in touch with Alex Woods at Golf Fit and he put together a training plan for me to build power. I also got some pointers from John McSloy, who also competes in Long Drive.
Those pointers included some pretty substantial changes to her swing. “In order to get the extra yardage, my backswing now goes way beyond parallel and I started lifting my left foot so I could straighten my right leg and get a lot more rotation,” she added.
The five months of hard work most certainly paid off as Ilona smashed a 338-yard drive en route to winning the National Final – the longest drive ever hit by a lady in an American Golf Long Drive competition.
So, what did Ilona think of the experience? “It was just so much fun,” she said. “Golf is quite long, you’re out on the course a while, and there’s a lot of skill to it whereas with Long Drive it’s just standing there and hitting the ball as hard as you can.
“It’s a good atmosphere, everybody’s cheering and there’s music playing in the background so it’s a good, fun environment to be in.”
After winning the National Final, Ilona has earned a dream place in the Volvik World Long Drive Finals in Oklahama and, in chronicling her experience through her Instagram account (@ilona_stubley), she hopes it can help her forge a career in the industry.
“Ideally, I’d like to start working in golf, whether it be in a playing element or golf days, and I want to use this experience to build a presence and interest in myself.”