Driven to Succeed

Local amateur Anna Drahos discovered long drive competition and is driving toward the top of the game.

February 20, 2024 | 5 min.
By Joseph Oberle

Eagan’s Anna Drahos returned to local amateur golf after college, but a chance trip through the Minnesota Golf Show introduced her to long drive competition, which she says has improved her golf and stoked a renewed fire for the game. 

“I love it,” Drahos says of consistently hitting 300-plus-yard drives. “That’s why I’ve done long drive, because I’ve had such a blast hitting it so far on the course. I love the first time I join a group of guys—because it’s usually guys—and they watch me hit, and then just seeing the look on their faces. That’s a highlight.” 

Going the Distance
Drahos grew up a multi-sport athlete—basketball, soccer, softball, track and swimming—but she’s always had a golf club in her hands. She was captain of her swimming and golf teams at Eastview High School and her ability to hit for distance was apparent even then.

“I have always been able to hit the ball far,” Drahos says. “In high school, that was the one thing I could do really well.” 

But Drahos focused on academics in college, graduating in 2013 from the University of Minnesota. Now 31, she has spent the last six years getting back into golf. She competed in local amateur tournaments (winning the first flight of the 2022 MGA Women’s Mid-Am Championship) and was wandering around the Golf Show when she spotted the long drive booth.

“I joined Ultimate Long Drive [ULD], which is geared toward amateurs, and started competing,” Drahos says. “It motivated me. It started as kind of a side hobby that was fun to do and it was raising my golf game. If I’d heard about long drive earlier, I probably would’ve been doing it for the past 10 years.”

Drahos started entering competitions in the spring of 2022 and quickly excelled. Competing in ULD, she won the National Amateur Event and then entered the World Long Drive (WLD) championship, where she took second place in the amateur and pro divisions. Buoyed by that success, she turned pro in 2023 and continued her meteoric rise in the game.

Her first professional event was in Mesquite, Nevada, followed by another in Hobe Sound, Florida, and Drahos finished each in the top 10. She traveled to La Salle, Colorado, and reached the semi-finals, which she lost to long drive legend Phillis Meti from New Zealand. Drahos, who stands 5-foot-4, then lost to the 5-foot-11 Meti in Kingsport, Tennessee, finishing in eighth place. And this past October, Drahos battled Meti again in the semis of the WLD championship in Atlanta.  

“If Phillis Meti had gone OB like I did, I felt like I would have won it,” Drahos says. “Another loss to Phillis—she is really great. She is the Goliath to my David.”

For the Good of Her Game
Relatively unique in the golf world, Drahos keeps playing amateur golf events alongside participating in long drive (LD). In 2023, she competed in five LD events plus four amateur events (the MGA Women’s Amateur, the Mid-Am, the Minnesota State Open and USGA Mid-Am Qualifier). She also plays several pro-ams each season with her partner Thomas Campbell (they’ve won 10 events together in four years), and she uses the winnings (although within the amateur status limits) to help finance her LD events. 

“If I want to hang out with people and enjoy a course for a few hours and beautiful weather, I pick golf,” Drahos says of her preference. “But if I’m looking for that competitive edge and to maximize on something that I feel is the best part of my game, that’s when I pick long drive. I compare it to running. I consider long drive more of a sprint. I prefer the sprint.” 

Long drive is her focus, as she finished the 2023 season ranked T-7 in WLD points. She took a short break after Atlanta and then got back in front of a Trackman (she works part-time at a golf simulator for free sessions of her own) to prepare for the LD season that begins in March. 

Drahos’ training consists of working through her entire bag, and she says that being in the LD has made her better on the course. She admits to swinging hard when in LD competition, which many golf instructors don’t recommend for the course.

“Long drive enhances my game; other people might disagree,” Drahos says. “But it matters whether you are just working with your driver or you work with all of your irons. I always work with my irons first and make sure I am hitting them in the center of the face before I move on to my driver.”

And she has receipts: Drahos started off 2023 with a 9.0 handicap and finished at 4.7. She credits her work in the simulator for improving her all-around performance and plans another offseason of work.

“I’ve gotten more awareness of how I’m hitting the ball,” Drahos says. “Growing up, I didn’t really think about it—hitting the ball was a habit more than anything. This past year, [I learned] you really have to think about your body weight shifting and how you’re turning. You learn more about yourself and how you’re hitting it in LD.”

Drahos is entering only her second professional LD season this spring, but just like taking a strong swing at the ball in competition, her plans and goals are equally bold.

“I would love to be one of the top amateur players, and my goal is to qualify for the USGA Mid-Am event,” she says. “Being a top mid-am player would be great—and getting to a scratch handicap would be, as well.

“But long drive is the big goal. I want to be number one. I want to set a new record. It’s a pretty hefty goal. So, I am just focusing on training this offseason. Strengthening myself and hitting in the sim.” 

Joseph Oberle

Joe Oberle is an award-winning author, sportswriter, and has been the managing editor of Minnesota Golfer magazine since 2002. He’s covered the Minnesota Vikings, the NFL, Minnesota Twins and spent six seasons as publications manager for the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he co-authored “Unstoppable: The Story of George Mikan.”

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