Even though Cassandra Meyer was a member of the 2006 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team and played professionally on the Symetra Tour, no one knows what to expect from her when she tees it up Tuesday in the first round of the 24th Wisconsin State Women’s Open at The Legend at Brandybrook in Wales.
“Darn it, I was hoping no one would notice (that she entered),” she said with a laugh. “When I got accepted, I was like, ‘Oh, shoot, now I actually have to go out and post a number.’ It’ll be interesting. It’s been about six years since I’ve played a competitive round of golf.”
But there’s one club in her bag that has seen some action. Meyer entered five World Long Drive Tour events in 2019, finished among the top 10 three times and was runner-up at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash, according to her bio on Krank Golf. With a club head speed of 110 mph and a ball speed of 165 mph – the PGA Tour averages are 112 and 168 – she regularly smashes drives of 280-plus yards and has a personal best of 323.
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Meyer, 30, lives in Orlando but is spending the summer in Baraboo, which is why she was eligible to enter the State Open. Her husband, Brett Meyer, is a David Leadbetter certified golf instructor and is teaching at Bishops Bay Country Club in Middleton. The couple plans to return to Orlando in October.
“We have very good friends that live here in Baraboo,” she said. “So, we’ve just come up for vacation the last few years and totally fell in love with it. And we actually got married in Baraboo two years ago. This year, my husband is teaching for about four months over at Bishops Bay.”
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Meyer (then Blaney) was an accomplished junior and played on the ’06 Junior Ryder Cup team with Bud Cauley, Vicky Hurst and Tony Finau, and against a European team that included Victor Dubuisson and Carlota Ciganda. Meyer and Finau teamed in mixed four-balls to win the final point for Team USA in a 6-6 tie.
“It was just awesome,” Meyer said of the experience. “Obviously, we had quite a few amazing players on that team, so it’s pretty neat to look back on that and see where they all are now. I became pretty good friends with Tony Finau after that.”
Meyer was highly recruited out of high school and had full scholarship offers from Florida, Arizona, Georgia and Central Florida, but she decided to turn pro at 18.
“Looking back, hindsight is 20-20, I probably would re-think that decision a little bit,” she said. “At the time, I had someone who was willing to put up some money for me to turn pro. I ended up making the decision to put all of my time and effort into turning professional and see if I could make something of it.”
She played some on the Symetra Tour and on Florida minitours, with little success. Her sponsorship money eventually dried up and she had to work odd jobs to be able to pay tournament entry fees.
“When I turned pro, I don’t think I was quite prepared for the amount of money and everything that goes into it behind the scenes,” she said. “It’s not just about talent, you know? So much more goes into it and I don’t think people understand how difficult it is out there, especially if you don’t come from a family with money.
“Quite honestly, it was all mental for me. I put so much pressure on myself to perform well, because if I didn’t make the cut or make money, then I would have to go back to work for a few weeks to pay my way into the next event. I never really got into a groove playing and competing on a consistent basis.
“I would have great practice rounds. My game was there. And then I’d go and try to compete and I just wouldn’t get it done. “
Over the last five years or so, Meyer played recreationally, mostly at Champions Gate in Orlando, but she was around the long-drive scene because her husband works with Tim Burke, currently No. 2 in the World Long Drive rankings. Meyer attended some long-drive competitions and decided to give it a try.
“Just the idea of getting back to anything that had to do with golf piqued my interest,” she said. “And I always hit it a long way. I don’t think I ever really played with anyone that outdrove me on a consistent basis. I wasn’t really sure if it was realistic, because you see these really big numbers coming from the women who are winning. There’s a couple of them that can just completely bomb it.
“My husband actually coaches Tim Burke, so I kind of took that as the opportunity to be like, well, we’re going to be there anyway, I might as well try it for fun. Not put too much pressure on it being something that I could actually compete in. After the first event, I realized I wasn’t really that far off.”
Most long-drive competitors are gifted physically with big frames and long levers, but the petite Meyer stands just 5-foot-5. She started training specifically to gain speed and power in her golf swing and made it to the finals in Atlantic City.
How does she generate her impressive power?
“I think a lot of it is naturally I have very fast hips, so the separation between my hips and my shoulders has always been very high,” she said. “It actually can be to a fault sometimes. If my lower body outraces my upper body it can result in that far right (miss) or that hook left. If your timing is not quite on it can be a negative thing. Obviously, for long drive it helped me out.
“I’ve done a lot of speed training. I think it’s just getting your body to move faster. I do a lot of strength training, as well. I feel like I was already strong, but it’s getting what I already have to move faster. Getting those fast-twitch muscles firing. That’s been a big part of my training, as well.”
Her club head speed doesn’t quite rank with the biggest bombers, but she thinks she can pick up a few more miles per hour. It helps that she’s a good ball-striker, because hitting the ball on the center of the club face as opposed to the toe or heel translates to significant yardage gains.
Meyer has more than 125,000 followers on Instagram and was looking forward to competing this year, but the coronavirus pandemic forced a cancellation of all World Long Drive Tour events. The 45th World Long Drive Championship, scheduled for Sept. 3-9 at Cog Hill in Lemont, Ill., has been suspended.
“That’s sort of pending at the moment,” Meyer said. “Hopefully, we’ll still get one event in. If not, then we’re just training for next year.”
She has passed the time this summer playing golf at Bishops Bay and Devil’s Head and is working toward her Certified Personal Trainer license. When she saw an opportunity to enter the Wisconsin State Women’s Open, she jumped at it.
“Golf is such a huge part of who I am,” she said.
Meyer said trying to hit the ball as hard she can for long-drive competitions has affected her driver swing. In tournament golf, it’s better to be in the fairway at 250 yards than in the woods at 300, so she may have to throttle back at Brandybrook.
“It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure,” she said. “I think we’re playing a pretty short yardage (6,196 yards, par 73), so I’m just hoping to hit 4-irons (off the tee). It will definitely be about keeping it in the fairway. If I have to hit a long iron into the green, that’s fine. We’re just trying to keep it in play.
“It will be good, though. I would like to see if I can get my whole game back together and maybe compete here or there, because I just love it. It kills me to not be good at it anymore. We’ll see how it goes. I’m excited.”