World Long Drive

This Black Woman Is Taking The Golf World By Storm One Swing At A Time

Human Interest

Take a quick glimpse into black history and you will see the infinite groundbreaking achievements that various black figures have made that ultimately impacted our people and the world. One of the more popular areas that many African-Americans have left their footprint in is the world of sports. Who can forget Jackie Robinson, who faced overt racism every day as the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. And we have to acknowledge our black queen Serena Williams who continues to rack up titles in tennis despite modern-day racism and sexism.

Whether it's breaking barriers as a top-tier player in a predominately white sport or proving that athleticism knows no gender, we have always found our way to victory. Following in the footsteps of these legends is self-taught golfer/long-driver Troy Mullins. After years of being a Track and Field star, Troy decided to trade in her track shoes for a golf club instead. "I fell into golf and long driving. I used to be a track athlete. I used to do the heptathlon. Shot put and javelin have pretty much the same lower body movements as golf, and so I had this natural kinda swing," she told xoNecole.

Golf Digest

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 labeled 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 in 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.

"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."

Being successful in a sport that she picked up for only a few short years is unheard of, and as talented as she is, there are others who seek to dim her light. A black woman with big, natural curls on a golf course isn't necessarily something that you see every day, and just like the aforementioned athletes before her, her presence wasn't always welcomed.

"It's still a very elitist sport and there's a lot of country club girls that end up playing golf. There's a lot of situations but golf is---when I step onto a golf course--I'm usually the only woman of color and I've definitely had looks and comments, but nothing outright racist. I haven't been verbally assaulted or anything but I've definitely been picked on and I think it's just with any sport that's only beginning to be more diverse. I think that's expected and I don't really let it hinder [me]. I expect that people still have their views and that's ok, that's their prerogative. It doesn't stop me from what I'm set out to do."

World Long Drive

But when things do get rough, she turns to her support system or, as she lovingly calls them, "her tribe." These people range from her mom to her friends, and even the parents of students that she tutors.

As a young black woman breaking barriers on the golf course, she understands that other people are looking at her, especially children and so she always makes sure that she is carrying herself in a positive light, even when social media says the opposite. "I know in this world of social media, you can kinda get sucked into it and as a woman athlete, people try to sexualize [us] and because I have a lot of young followers, I think it's important to show that you can be who you are and you don't have to give into the male gaze," she expressed.

Golf Digest

"It's important to show that you can be who you are and you don't have to give into the male gaze."

Having morals and a strong identity of self might have a little to do with her personal heroes. One, in particular, is her father Billy Mullins, who was a professional track and field athlete and was invited to participate in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Moscow. She also admires Florence Griffith Joyner aka Flo Jo, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Serena Williams, and Michael Jordan, just to name a few. When she's not knocking golf balls out of sight, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her Pomeranian named Etta James and catching up on tea over tea.

Troy Mullins

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. Because of her, now they can, and now they do.

To keep up with Troy Mullins and her history-making journey, follow her on Twitter @Troyger and Instagram @trojangoddess.

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Featured photo by World Long Drive

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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