Mike Austin is the man who Guinness Records has previously credited with the longest drive ever in competitive golf. At age 64, in September 25, 1974 at the U.S. National Seniors Open Championship at Winterwood Golf Course (now called Desert Rose) in Las Vegas, Mike hit a 515-yard drive on the par-4 465 yard 5th hole (now the 14th hole). Even more remarkable was that he did this with a 43.5" steel-shafted persimmon wood driver with one of the old balata balls. And the scary thing is...Mike, with a graduate degree in mechanical engineering and a doctorate in kinesiology, said that he knew what he was doing!
Most FAQ That Jaacob Gets Asked About Mike Austin
How did Jaacob meet Mike Austin?
Jaacob worked in the corporate world for five years between St. Louis and Kansas City. In late December 2002, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a golf career. He got a membership at Lost Canyons Golf Club in Simi Valley and began practicing on January 1, 2003. One day while hitting balls in fierce winds in late January, Jaacob struck up a conversation with the man behind him...Dan Shauger. He told Dan of his career aspirations and Dan offered to take Jaacob under his wing and teach him the swing secrets of the legendary Mike Austin. Dan had apparently been good friends with Michael for roughly the last 25 years, and shortly thereafter Jaacob met Mike in his house in LA. Thus the relationship began.
On video, it just looks like a nice fluid swing. What's so different?
Although the swing looks rather effortless and easy, there's a reason for that. Mike found a way to use the body's joints, which are all levers (hinges, ball and sockets, etc), in a way that is like a powerful compound lever. He used the legs, the most powerful muscle group in the body, as the main power source. It looks so natural, because unlike the conventionally taught swing, his swing was built around how the body is meant to function. He won’t use conventional jargon like coil, lag, hinging the wrists, delayed release, etc. Instead, he used natural body leverage, throwing the club around the swing circle center, and a square-blade concept. The ball flies straighter and farther without the back-strain.
Why isn't Mike Austin more well known?
In the 1930s to the 1960s, there wasn't the huge amount of corporate sponsorship or television money available to golfers. If you decided to play on the PGA Tour, you also needed an additional job, particularly in the off-season, to make ends meet. Mike could actually make more money from teaching lessons, putting on exhibitions, and gambling using his trick shots.
If this swing is so great, why aren't you on the PGA Tour?
The Mike Austin swing is just that...a swing. It can help you hit longer, straighter, and more consistent shots, but there are other aspects to the game like putting, course management, mental and emotional management of self, etc, that go in to making it on to the PGA Tour.
Jaacob also started when he was 27. Many golfers started at a very young age, so Jaacob had and still has lots of ground to cover to catch up to the experience and knowledge of someone who started when they were 5-10 years old.
In addition, to pursue a golf career takes money to cover travel costs, tournament costs, etc. In the beginning this money has to either come from personal savings and income or from outside help through family, friends, or sponsors. Jaacob is continuing to make progress as a golfer, but because he has had to work while others can be out practicing, his progress is not as fast as it might be otherwise.
Furthermore, the purses on the mini-tours are unfortunately top-loaded like the PGA and Nationwide Tour. Because the purses are smaller and the top couple players take most of the money, it takes a top-20 in a full field of around 160 players to make back your entry fee and travel costs for the week. That means that 87.5% of mini-tour players do not make enough money to self sustain. This makes it difficult for any talented professional that is in a developmental state to break through. Jaacob is in the upper 99.9% of all golfers, however, he is currently at the lower end of the professional ranks. To get to that next level is an amazing feat.
Why isn't everyone using his swing?
If you've ever met Mike or taken a lesson from him, you probably already know the answer to this. For those that don't know, Mike, although a genius when it came to the golf swing, is a bit rough around the edges, egotistical, and isn't very tactful in his dealings with people. Make no mistake, the man is great, but he is a bit bullish, especially in his old age after his stroke. After meeting him and spending lots of time around him, it wasn't at all a surprise that not many other people had heard of him or were open to hearing what he had to say and offer.
There seem to be several versions of the hand-action that Mike used. Which one is the right one?
As you can see further below on this page, there are many products and people that are affiliated with the Mike Austin swing. Everyone seems to generally agree on the pivot, however, the biggest difference is the rolling hand-action, or curling under hand-action. So who is right?
In the 1990s and prior, Mike taught a rolling hand-action. You will see this demonstrated in all of the videos that were made during this time. After he had his stroke and became paralyzed on his right side, he was basically left only to be able to ponder the golf swing. In the last few years before he died, he changed his outlook from a rolling hand-action to one that curls under and keeps the blade squarer longer. The problem is that Mike didn't make another video after he changed his viewpoint. The Peace River video was re-released as a DVD with extra footage, but the actual instruction remained the same old stuff. Also, whether it was old-age or stubbornness or what, Mike would also contradict himself in these later years of his life. There was one time when Dan Shauger ( a close friend of Mike's for nearly 25 years) and Jaacob were at Mike's house working in Mike's garage and Mike was insisting that the Flammer produced the new curling under motion that he was professing, when in fact it produces a rolling hand-action. Dan modified the pivot so that it produced the curling under motion, yet Mike still insisted that the original Flammer did so. It did not. So it is understandable that some might not think that Mike professed the curling under action...even in Mike's later years.
In addition, in 2003, Dan began putting together a tribute book to Mike as told through the eyes of Dan, the How to Kill the Ball book (see below). In it included the new hand-action that Mike was professing. Mike was happy about it and even put up funding to put the book together. However, when Dan finished the book Mike began claiming that Mike himself had written it, when in fact, Dan had written it. Understandably so, Dan was upset about this and Jaacob was witness to a big argument over it. This situation damaged their friendship all the way through to when Mike passed away. Unfortunately, many people do not know this story. So later on when the rights of the Mike Austin stuff were taken over and other people met Mike, Mike gave Dan a bad rap. Thus the discrepancy between those who advocate the rolling action and those like Dan who knew and were witness to Mike's change of viewpoint. Yes, Mike taught a rolling hand-action. But in the end, he also taught the curling under hand action and came to believe that it was the better of the two.
I have seen you swing in person (or on an internet video) and it doesn't look like Mike Austin's swing. Why is this?
There are two reasons for this. The first is that although two different people may be performing the same motion, the swings will look different because no two people have the exact same body. The second reason is that at various times Jaacob has experimented with other grips, stances, methods, etc because he wanted to be certain that he was using the best possible swing for himself. You may have seen him (or seen a video of him) during one of these experimental periods.
One time I saw you from a distance at a driving range hitting duck hooks and topping the ball. Why would I want to learn about your swing or Mike Austin's swing after seeing this?
As stated in the previous answer, Jaacob likes to experiment with other methods. When one does this it is expected that there will be mishits. In addition, golf is a game where it is sometimes useful to hit duck hooks and hard slices to get out of trouble, around trees, etc. Occasionally, Jaacob practices these types of shots on the range. As for topping the ball, one time while experimenting on the range, Jaacob found out that if he could top the ball just right it would pop up a couple feet in the air and he could catch it. It's a fun trick he likes to practice.
Who Are Some of the Names That Pop Up When You Hear About Mike Austin?
Where Can I Learn More About Mike Austin?