My wife Jennifer Giroux's birthday is on August 30th and our wedding anniversary is on September 1st. So, to celebrate, we decided to do the 1 Hour Metro Detroit Tour using Max Flight Helicopter Services.
I had previously been on a couple helicopter rides before in St. Louis and Tennessee (if I recall correctly). However, this was Jen's first ride.
We took off from Gross Ile around 11:30am, rode up the Detroit River, saw the Ford Dearborn Truck Factory, Rouge Steel plant, and River Rouge industrial areas.
We circled around our neighborhood of Hubbard Richard next to the Ambassador Bridge (Bridge to Canada), Michigan Central Station, and St. Anne's Church.
We did a lap around Downtown Detroit seeing Ford Field, Comerica Park, Motor City Casino, Little Caesar's Arena, and the Renaissance Center.
We flew over Belle Isle State Park, headed out to Grosse Pointe and Lake St. Clair, and then came back down inland a bit through Mid-Town and saw things like the old Packard Plant, Henry Ford Hospital, Fisher and Chrysler Buildings, etc...before landing again back down in Gross Ile.
We ended up in the air about 56 minutes, which we could've extended to an hour with a few more minutes of flying at the end around Gross Ile. However, I was nursing a little hangover and we decided to cut our ride off a little bit early.
Our pilot was very cool, made us feel comfortable, and was very knowledgeable about the area.
In our particular helicopter, a Robinson R-44 helicopter that costs around $600,000 to buy, there was room for 3 passengers plus the pilot.
Had a lovely road trip from July 22nd to August 1st.
I started out driving from Detroit to Ames, Iowa on July 22nd, which was great in part because I had never previously driven that particular stretch of interstate highways. So, I got to see a new corridor of the country from Michigan, to Indiana, to Illinois, to Iowa.
I also ran the 100m in the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships and finished 12th in my 45-49 age division.
On July 24th, I headed down to the Kansas City area to visit my brother and his family, who I had not seen since prior to the pandemic. We had a nice visit catching up and we took my nephews out for their first round of golf ever and I also went to a couple of my brother's hockey games.
On July 27th, I drove across Missouri to see my parents just south of St. Louis in Barnhart, who I had also not seen since before COVID-19.
On the 29th, I drove from Missouri, through Illinois, through Indiana, and on in to Ohio to pick up my wife from the bus stop to go to an extended family reunion at the Dayton KOA.
Finally, on August 1st, we drove back home up to Detroit!
Today I felt an intuitive impulse to post a video to YouTube that was previously a paid product…my "The Mike Austin Swing with Jaacob Bowden" that was created in 2012.
For those that don't know, I began my golf career at age 27 as a 14-handicapper. I quit my computer engineering job in Kansas and moved out to California on December 20th, 2002 to go for a career in golf. A month after I arrived, I met Dan Shauger, who gave me free coaching nearly every day for a month and then gradually less afterwards. Dan also introduced me to his friend Mike Austin, the man who at age 64 hit a 515-yard Guinness World Record drive of 515-yards in the 1974 US National Senior Open.
With Dan and Mike's help, I quickly lowered my handicap. First, I beat my best of 78 with a 74, then a 73, then my first time under par with a 69 on March 26th, 2003.
Also before the end of March (less than 3 months!) I added tons of distance (increasing my longest drive from 330 yards to 358 yards to 377 yards to 393 yards).
Granted I'm am a natural athlete, but some of this improvement came from additional practice. After all, I had just quit my engineering job and my new "job" was working on my game all day. Anyone is bound to improve when they add that much practice time to their schedule.
I'm also naturally strong, but still some came from golf fitness and working out in the gym. This later became the basis for my swing speed training programs at Swing Man Golf.
Some came from my almost daily technique work through Dan and our occasional visits to Mike Austin's house, which was nearby.
I learned how to leverage power from my legs out to the golf club, relying less on rotational power and more on lateral and vertical power. This also had the side benefit of relieving a lot of stress off my knees, hips, and spine.
I learned how to strike the ball more consistently in the "sweet spot" (better contact means more distance and also more accuracy/precision) through the concept of the swing circle center using the C7 vertebrae.
I got permission to trust my instinct to minimize face rotation through the hitting area and consequently started hitting much more powerfully and accurately/precisely due to better ball striking. Basically, my shot dispersion window got much smaller.
Obviously a lot of people wondered how I improved so quickly.
On April 21, 2012, I finished creating my Mike Austin video that shared what I learned from Mike and Dan…integrated with other videos from Mike Austin and spiced up with my own interpretations.
At the time, I was still struggling to get myself out of the debt I took on from switching over to a career in golf. So, I wrote, filmed, and edited everything myself with some very basic filming equipment that I had (wireless microphone, tripod, iPad as a teleprompter (hanging on the tripod using a coat hanger - haha), and iMovie on my MacBook Pro laptop.
I'm not a professional film maker, but I think it turned out okay…all things considered.
I should add that I no longer purely use the Mike Austin swing. Rather, I've refined what I do to make things work better for me personally. However, I do honor that this was a valuable part of my learning and growth as a golfer, and that others are interested in learning what I learned. That's why I keep the video out in the public realm.
Anyway, give it a watch below:
On a side note, the shirt I was wearing in the above cover photo with Mike was the very first logo for Swing Man Golf, which was drawn by my friend/roommate in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in 2004. We lived on Carpenter in the 2nd house up from 1st.