Partner in the Journey with a Tour Player

Partner in the Journey with a Tour Player


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Panace Life Sciences MAPGA Stroke Play

What I Love About Playing Golf

There are so many things I love about playing the game of golf.

I love the nature. I grew up outside of St. Louis in small town Barnhart, Missouri on 33 acres of mostly wooded land. My Dad was a high school math teacher and my Mom taught middle school math, science, and art. We had a bunch of farm animals and our closest neighbors were over a quarter mile away, so my brother and I spent a lot of time by ourselves in nature growing up. Playing golf and seeing all the various animals on the course brings me back to those childhood memories.


I love the practice. When I was growing up, one of my favorite things to do was practice sports. I would come home from school and one of the first things I’d do would be to go shoot free throws on the court my Dad built us. Or in the summer, I’d pitch buckets of baseballs from a homemade mound over a wooden home plate into a tarp draped over a chicken wire backstop with cedar posts. Today I still get that same type of satisfaction hitting tennis balls against a ball machine or in golf with hitting driving range balls or working on my short game. There’s something about practice that really grabs me and makes me lose track of time.


I love the solitude. I’m an introvert by nature and I recharge when I’m by myself. This serves me well in golf and also feeds into my love of practice because in order to be really good, you have to spend time alone just working on your game. So, when I practice alone, not only am I recharging my batteries, I’m also building skills as a player.

That being said, I do still like being around people. In fact, one of the other things I love about professional sports is the vibe of the crowd. I was fortunate enough to be in left field when Mark McGuire hit his then record 70th home run. Every single pitch, the entire stadium would light up with camera flashes and there was this anticipation in the air that exploded when that ball cleared the fence. I love the electricity of that atmosphere and respond to it when I’m in it as a player. Some of my best moments in sports and golf have come when the cameras are on and crowds are there watching. Golf gives me a chance to be around people and in that atmosphere, yet still be thriving by myself and doing my own thing.

Jaacob Bowden hits his tee shot on a Par 3 during British Open qualifying in England

I love the inner reflection. For me, golf is a very spiritual journey. I’ve worked with a mental coach for many years and I really enjoy shining the light inward and pulling apart the fears that come up in varying degrees for all of us as humans, whether that be a fear of success, a fear of failure, wanting to be liked or loved, being vulnerable in front of others, and more.

Jaacob Bowden watches the sunset in Jacksonville, Florida

I love the travel. Who knows where my life would have been had I not answered that call at the PGA Championship to leave my corporate job and pursue a golf career. But because I took that leap of faith, golf has since taken me around the world, from North America, to Europe, to Africa, to the Middle East, to Asia, and to Australia.

Jaacob Bowden plays the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai

I love the sunsets. I’ll play at any time of day, but my favorite time to play is late in the day and at dusk followed by taking in the sunset. I remember when I was in Alaska for a US Open Qualifier one May, dusk lasted what seemed like forever and you can play until after midnight if you want.


What do you love about playing the game?

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How I Got In To Golf

The First Swings with Dad

My dad first introduced me to golf around high school.

He started by taking my brother Aaron and I to a local 9-hole golf course in House Springs, Missouri, a course which no longer exists, and we would play a few times a year with Dad's old persimmon clubs he got when he was in college.

After I started to take a greater interest, he then got me a box set from Wal-Mart and I played my junior year on our high school team.

On a good day, I’d break 50 for 9 holes. I remember in one of my first junior tournaments, I shot 118…a very nervous 70 on the front nine followed by a much calmer 48 on the back nine.

Mike Austin and the Guinness Book of World Records

Once I had a sense of golf, one particular thing that stood out to me when I used to read the Guinness Book of World Records for fun as a teenager was Mike Austin's 515-yard drive, which I'll circle back to at the end of this post.

An older Mike Austin holds a fairway wood

But briefly, Mike Austin, is the guy who at 64 years old in 1974 hit a Guinness World Record 515-yard drive during the US National Senior Open in Las Vegas.

To give you some perspective, the average amateur golfer hits drives in the 214 yards/drive range.

It was difficult for me to fathom how anyone could hit a ball like that at any age, particularly with 1970's golf equipment technology - an old steel shafted persimmon wood driver and balata ball.

The Bucket List and the 2001 PGA Championship

After college, I started working as a computer engineer in 1998. By that time, I had become a 14-handicap golfer (basically, an average amateur golfer) and had broken 80 once on the Walker Golf Course at Clemson University.

The Walker Course at Clemson University

But I knew the corporate world wasn’t going to be for me for the long term, so, in my spare time I started checking off things on my bucket list.

One of those things was to go to every major sports event at least once – for example, one Super Bowl, one NBA Finals, the tennis Grand Slams (which I’ve now been lucky enough to do), etc. One week when I was 25, I happened to be working in Atlanta training technicians on our proprietary software and the last day of training for the week on Friday got cancelled. With the extra time I then had, I bought myself a ticket to the 2001 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, the one David Toms won with the hole-in-one on the Par 3 15th hole.

Jaacob Bowden at the 2001 PGA Championship

If you’ve ever been to a major tour event, you know that the holes are roped off. Once the players pass, the marshals open the ropes and let the crowds pass across the hole. As it worked out, I was the only person at one of these crossings. As I got to the middle of the fairway, I had the view of a player being inside the ropes looking out at the galleries. At that moment, I felt like the sky got brighter, a veil was lifted, I felt warmer, and I first got the inspiration to pursue a career as a professional golfer.

Meeting Dan Shauger and Mike Austin

It took me about a year after that to muster up the strength and courage to quit the stability of my computer engineering job, but I finally did.

Unfortunately, the culture at my computer engineering got pretty bad due to the company getting sold and restructured multiple times. That ended up being a positive, though, because it helped give me the courage to make the leap.

I also had gotten to a place mentally where I didn't want to turn 40 and wonder if I could've made it had I only tried. Plus, unlike many other sports where players start retiring around 30, I figured with golf I would have time to get good. In fact, if one is healthy and motivated, one can be a competitive tournament golfer almost to "normal" retirement age.

At 27, I sold everything I owned, packed up what remained into my car, drove out west from Kansas City to California feeling an aliveness like never before, lived in a sleeping bag in a dirty garage for a year, and got up about every day and, literally through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, got myself good enough to turn pro and cash my first check 6 months later when I won the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised 381-yard drive.

Jaacob Bowden wins the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised 381-yard drive

This progress was in part due to a serendipitous meeting I had when I first moved to California. About a month after I had moved out to Los Angeles, I was on the driving range on a really windy day. There was one other guy behind me practicing as well. All of a sudden, a huge gust of Santa Ana wind came up and I stumbled back into the space where he was hitting. I would have crashed into him if it not for the wind blowing him backwards as well. It got us chatting and we remarked on our dedication to practicing in such adverse weather.

That guy, the late Dan Shauger, had just retired from building movie and TV sets in Hollywood, was teaching golf in his retirement and was there that day at the course contemplating getting a membership so he could take a crack at the Senior Tour. He ended up being inspired by what I was doing, bought himself a membership so we could practice together, and he also offered to start teaching me pro bono. As it turns out, he was also great friends with an old pro named…you guessed it, Mike Austin.

Here I was, just starting my golf career, and I was getting to meet the very same Mike Austin that stood out to me all those years ago as I kid when I would read the Guinness Book of World Records.

Sometimes I wonder if those moments I remember vividly as a kid were a foreshadowing of destiny to come. Maybe it was just chance. I’m not sure. But it still amazes me how those dots somehow connected in such a surreal way.

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My Best Sports

As a continuation of improving my life balance, I thought I'd write a post about my best sports.

Last year I thought about joining some type of recreational sports league again for the first time in probably 15 years. Playing sports and games pretty well were always something I enjoyed.

In fact, I would say playing sports are my greatest passion…but only certain types of sports, as you'll soon read.

In my 20s, I would work my computer engineering job during the day and then play a different sport almost every night of the week. I'd have a baseball league one night, play tennis another time, do a basketball league the next evening, etc. It was a lot of fun and I had kind of robbed myself of those days since starting my golf career at 27.

I started to think about bringing rec sports back in to my life again…and I also contemplated what my body was best suited for.

I'm 6'2" and typically weigh 205-230. I have 8-inch long hands and 12.5 EEE feet, and, proportionate to my body height I have a normal wingspan, a long torso, and shorter legs. I have and build strength easily (which makes sense because based on DNA testing I know I have genetic muscle composition commonly found in elite power athletes) and I prefer more shorter explosive types of things cardiovascularly (think sprints vs middle or distance running).


I also have quick hands and good hand eye coordination…and as part of my athleticism, I have really good spatial aptitude. Some day, I will design a hedge maze.


After extensive analysis, I found my avatar profile is basically the typical MLB baseball player. In fact, baseball was my first love and, even though I was cut from my baseball team as a sophomore in high school, I was lucky enough to go on and have a tryout with the Minnesota Twins at the old Metronome in Minneapolis. I'm probably past the days of having baseball be a career, although it could be fun to pick it up again as a hobby.


My body profile is also very close to an NHL defenseman. Hockey was never my thing, though. Although interestingly, my brother is perfectly suited for it, and I'm not surprised he played for Washington University. We are similarly built but he has longer arms than I do, which make him perfect for poking pucks out from the smaller forwards.

I'm also built like an NFL kicker. I think I could've been great at it but my parents thought football was too dangerous and I wasn't allowed to play in high school. I don't have any regrets about that though because I now realize I'm not one for contact sports. Even though the kicker might be the safest position on the field, getting tackled by someone that outweighs me by 100 pounds would've happened at some point and I'm sure I wouldn't like it.

Basketball was probably my 2nd love after baseball as a teenager and in my 20s. I had dreams of playing in the NBA and I was lucky enough to play a bit of NAIA Division II in college. I had a nice vertical leap that was above average for an NBA player, but I wasn't tall enough to do anything other than play point guard in the NBA, which wasn't really my bag. Basketball is also pretty dangerous. I partially tore my ACL in one knee from incidental contact when I was 17, I twisted and probably sprained an ankle from landing on someone's foot, I had tons of jammed fingers, and when I was 29 I got a concussion from someone intentionally elbowing me in the back of the head during a league game. Plus, as I realized in last summer's recreational league, basketball is just too rough for my liking. Playing in that league last summer actually gave me permission to let go of basketball as a passion/hobby/interest.

Powerlifting could make a lot of sense for me going forward. I've never really trained for it, but because of my body type and how quickly I build strength, I'm sure I could do well at it on a world level if I trained consistently for a couple years.

Table tennis could be a fun hobby with my hand quickness and hand-eye coordination. I even took a lesson with a ranked table tennis player last May.

My wife and I bought some very basic tennis racquets from Dick's Sporting Goods last year, which was really fun for me to pick up again. I went on to play in a singles league and got 2nd in my league (I believe out of 20 players). From an avatar standpoint, it would help if I had a wider swing span like my brother, but 6'2" is still long enough.

Unfortunately, while practicing for my league last summer, I got a little bit of tennis elbow from hitting too many serves one day and not stopping when I should've. That simple mistake took me 8 months to recover from and many acupuncture sessions. I've since also learned that my basic racquet had characteristics that contributed to the tennis elbow. So, once I learned that, I got a new custom built one that's geared towards elbow/arm safety and control…and it arrived today! It's a Prince Phantom 93P, 18x20, 4 5/8 grip, and 55 string tension. I'm looking forward to the courts reopening around DC and the spring league starting up again.

Regular golf makes a lot of sense too, particularly since I love nature/outdoors, the spirituality, the practice, the solitude, the sound of the galleries, and the part-time travel so much. Realizing this actually made me appreciate golf much more again. For a long time, I think I was putting too much pressure on myself to perform and make money at it, and it was taking some of the fun out of it…as well as hurting my performance. Going forward, I just need to relax a bit and remember to have fun and that I actually do really like playing, regardless of outcomes.

I haven't tried the World Long Drive Championships since 2007. I had left the sport because it seemed so much about ego. Regular golf suited my personality better in that sense. However, my body is built well for it, so perhaps I could take up training again and maybe bring something different to the sport.

Although I finished 5th at the Speedgolf World Championships and shot the championship record for golf score, I'm not sure I'll ever do speedgolf again. The golf part was fun and doing a casual 3-mile/5K, in which I can still have a conversation while I jog, is fine, but I don't like race-level mid or long distance running. It's torture, haha!

Speaking of running, there's track and field. I did long jump and triple jump junior year in high school. Now that I'm over 40, I'm eligible for the Master's Division in USATF events. Although I'm built for javelin, I'm not sure how easy it would be to find a place to learn and train for that…and I don't know if long jump and triple jump interest me again. But doing the 100m intrigues me. It requires strength and explosiveness and it's over before you know it. Plus, I think doing a weekly sprint could have good health benefits.

So, using some of this stay-at-home order and making some time for all this contemplation has been a definite positive. Coming out of COVID-19, I think I'm going to focus more energy in these areas, whether they be for career, fun, hobbies, recreation, etc.

  • Golf - The vision here is to play tournaments full time on the PGA TOUR. I think a load of 16 tournaments will suite me well. Want to to along for the ride with me? Learn about becoming a financial partner here.
  • Long Drive - I think I might give long drive a go again…but even if I decide not to compete, the extra speed, power, and distance will only help my golf game.
  • Track - 100m - I'm curious to know how well I could do at the USATF Championships in my age group. I've already joined a track club here in DC to start sprinting once a week when the tracks are open again.
  • Powerlifting - Powerlifting training doesn't take much time, I like lifting weighs, and it's only 3 lifts. The squat and deadlift will help with my golf and long drive…and also with coming out of the blocks in track. I'm built great for it, strength is a gift, and participating is a way for me to use and share that gift. So, why not train for a couple years and see where it takes me?
  • Tennis - Tennis is a lot of fun for me. I think playing/practicing once a week would be cool and I bet I could get pretty good. Regardless, simply the fun is enough reason to do it.

Eventually, I may join a baseball or table tennis league too…but for now the above 5 sports will keep me plenty busy!

And since this is about life balance too, I want to leave room for other things in my life as well!

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Wheel of Life and Life Balance

One of the things I've been working on during the stay-at-home orders for the local DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area is taking some time to think about how my life can be more balanced.

It's previously come up through life coaching sessions and chatting with friends…and I instinctively knew my life was a little out of balance. For years I've focused on my career and professional life and I've long yearned for a break or sabbatical of some sorts. But really, I think I was just burning too much of the candle in the career category at the expense of other things in life.


So, in drawing out this wheel of life (Thanks, Laisa!) and looking over things, one tweak my wife Jen and I have decided to make is get rid of digital news and subscribe to our local Sunday paper. For us, living in Washington, that means the Washington Post. It's been about 3 weeks now and:

  • It's nice to have greater variety and headlines that have less click bait.
  • What we read is what everyone is reading and what we see isn't curated based on what we've clicked online.
  • The stories have had more time for fact-checking.
  • I've taken up doing the sudoku puzzles and it's been fun to check out the Comics section, something I haven't done since high school.
  • We feel less drained and overall it's been great.

Jen also repotted some plants and we got some Sonos speakers, both to improve our home environment.

Another thing we decided to do, in the contribution area of the wheel, was to pick six reputable charities (for example, those that put >75% of their money back in to the actual programs, like these) that we would feel great about supporting on a monthly auto-pay basis.

Personally, I'm not one to volunteer my time. It's just not me. That being said, I do like the idea of funneling money…and giving back and helping out in that way.

I ended up picking the following charities, in no particular order.

First of all, I wanted to go for a few medical related ones. I've had close family and people I know be personally affected by ALS, breast cancer, and myeloma. Thus, I started with the ALS Association, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

Next, nature and our environment is something that is really important to me…and I really love parks. This lead me to the National Parks Foundation and The Conservation Fund.

Last, for my 6th one I decided to not opt for an actual charity, but rather make a difference in my community by contributing to and joining a political party, the Green Party.

Historically, I've always been an independent because both Republican and Democratic politicians as a collective haven't really served the American people as well as they could. And it isn't helpful that it's only those two parties that have all the power. I think we'd do much better with, say, five equally powerful parties that better covers the spectrum of society. Having only two in primary control, like we do now, makes things too oppositional, something which the 24-hour "news" cycle feeds on to manufacture and exacerbate controversy for their profit.

People typically think of the Green Party as being about the environment which, of course, it is. Addressing climate change, getting off fossil fuels, switching to renewable energy, and otherwise taking care of our planet are all important in my mind.

But as I looked in to them, their Four Pillars, and Ten Key Values, I realized they stood for much more than the environment and they really go for a lot of things that I think need to happen.

Stuff I believe, like:

  • Aside from being a peace advocate, I think we spend WAY too much on military and endless wars. In fact, it might be our downfall. There's been studies in to the rise and fall of previous empires that show that overextending on military spending is one cause for such downfalls.
  • Elections need to be publicly financed.
  • Gerrymandering needs to be eliminated.
  • Lobbying needs to be classified as bribery and made illegal.
  • We've gotten so far away from the days of the 1960s in which one income could provide for a family of four. Establishing a living wage based on your region (Example: your county) and tying that annually to inflation seems to make sense.
  • The middle class has dwindled in recent decades and a disproportionate amount of wealth has flowed from the lower and middle class to the extremely wealthy. An extreme wealth tax seems like a great idea…as does going back more in the direction of higher taxes on the mega wealthy.
  • Similarly, there is no reason anyone in the US should be bankrupted for medical reasons, something that almost happened to me when I was 29. Last I looked, the US ranked 37th in health care systems in the world. We need to adopt health care systems similar to that of other first world nations.
  • Our infrastructure (roads, bridges, airports, etc) needs to be repaired, updated, and modernized.
  • For-profit prisons have got to go.
  • Marijuana needs to be legalized.
  • And much more…

In any case, it's been nice to put a make some tweaks to our lives to better bring about life balance.

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UPDATED: Average Golf Swing Speed Charts

Curious how fast the average swing speeds are for amateurs, pros, and long drivers?

Check out Swing Man Golf's updated post here.

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Golf Workouts At Home - Part 5/5



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Golf Workouts At Home - Part 4/5



Read the associated article from GolfWRX here.

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Golf Workouts At Home - Part 3/5

By this point, you might be a little sore, particularly if you are not used to this type of training. Although we’ll be taking tomorrow off to rest and recover, generally speaking, take rest and recovery time at any point you need it. It’s an important part of training. If you are feeling tired and fatigued, your performance is dragging, you are agitated or moody, etc…take a day or more off to come back fresh.

We want to keep you healthy and this training to be fun!

That being said, if you’re ready for Day 3 of our week-long golf fitness training program, we’re going to do two things we’ve already done from yesterday’s workout. But this time, we’ll add in a new block of training, the Dynamic Downswing Overspeed exercises using our resistance bands.

Read the full article at GolfWRX here.

Watch the associated video below.



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Golf Workouts At Home - Part 2/5

Via GolfWRX.com

We’re back for workout two of our weeklong at-home golf workout program.

For our first workout, we did a few basic exercises to break you in, mostly targeting the downswing.

In case you missed it, here again is that video.


And if you’ve followed GolfWRX for the last few years, I’ve actually previously talked about these Day 1 starter exercises in this article:

6 exercises using resistance bands for more distance

For our second workout, we’re going to add in two more blocks of training, along with a variation of our first workout.

• Day 1 – Dynamic Swing Strength
• Day 2 – Isometric Downswing Strength, Dynamic Swing Speed, Full Swing Repetitions
• Day 3 – Isometric Downswing Strength, Dynamic Downswing Overspeed, Full Swing Repetitions
• Day 4 – Rest & Recover
• Day 5 – Isometric Downswing Strength, Dynamic Swing Strength, Dynamic Swing Speed, Full Swing Repetitions
• Day 6 – Dynamic Downswing Overspeed, Full Swing Repetitions
• Day 7 – Rest & Recover

First, we’ll do some isometric training exercises to target your downswing.

I first learned about isometric training in the mid-2000s when I was competing in long drive and was researching other sports and athletes. Back then, there was no YouTube and there was almost no info on golf fitness training online. So, I had to look outside the golf industry to figure out ways in which I could increase my strength and clubhead speed.

When I was a kid, my brother Aaron and I watched a lot of Bruce Lee movies. I remembered how fast and powerful he was despite not being very big. After reading some books about Bruce’s training, I learned more about isometrics…and then simply applied those principles to the golf swing, particularly the downswing.

Second, we’ll do the same exercises as our first workout. However, this time, we’ll drop the resistance roughly in half and up the reps. Originally, I went to college to be a pharmacist, and I remembered from Physics class that Power = Force * Distance / Time. When I was training to win the 2003 Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a 381-yard televised drive, I was spending time experimenting around in the weight room to get more golf swing power. Based on the power equation, I thought I should train to not only increase my strength, but also to safely train with the weights at speed.

I remember that at some point, the weights got to be too heavy and with the loss in speed I was also losing overall power. So, sometimes for variety, I would drop the weight down enough so that I could go faster. I had also learned about various power principles from reading some of Fred “Dr. Squat” Hatfield’s thoughts on powerlifting, and as I studied, learned, and experimented for application to golf, I was further influenced by Louis Simmons and Westside Barbell, a famous powerlifting gym in Ohio. Westside’s athletes have tons of powerlifting and strength records and I recall some of their training routines could involve a couple of strength days per week combined with a couple of speed days.

Integrating these type of things among many other training concepts from other sports (Example: professional basketball dunkers, explosive track and field disciplines, etc) really lead to amazing results that hadn’t yet existed in golf, not only for myself but also for other golfers who I was training.

Lastly, we’ll get in some reps, specifically working on increasing the useable controlled speed of our full swing, ideally using a radar device like the Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radar.

Have more of a look below in Video 2 of our 5-part video series on golf workouts that you can do at home.


To read this article on GolfWRX.com, click here.

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Golf Workouts At Home - Part 1/5

Looking for a golf workout that you can do at home?

Look no further than in my latest for GolfWRX that they called "Golf workouts at home for more clubhead speed with PGA Pro Jaacob Bowden: Part 1"!

Here's the video from the article.


Special thanks to Jennifer Giroux and our cats Moses and Simone!

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What Would the Same Swing Look Like at Different Swing Speeds?

What would the same swing look and sound like a different speeds?

Have a look and find out!



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Millions of Views

It was brought to my attention the other day that I authored the top two most viewed articles ever at GolfWRX.com…collectively generating millions of views.

#1 - How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs
#2 - Carry Distance Vs Swing Speed Chart

It got me wondering what else I might have authored or created that's had over a million views. This video is close….today sitting around 917,000 views.

Let's get it over 1,000,000!



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States I've Visited


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2020 Census


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National Cherry Blossom Festival

Jaacob Bowden in PGA Magazine

Happen to have access to the March 2020 (Volume 101, No. 3) issue of PGA Magazine?

Flip to page 74 where you'll see…me!

View this post on Instagram

Happen to have access to the March 2020 (Volume 101, No. 3) issue of PGA Magazine? Flip to page 74 where you'll see…me! https://jaacobbowden.com/GolfBlog_files/jaacob-bowden-pga-magazine.html "The website @golfwrx has a variety of different content for avid golfers, from in-depth equipment stories to instruction pieces contributed by @pga Professionals. The website has recently been promoting some of its most-read stories over the past 10 years, one of which was contributed by PGA Professional @jaacobbowden (pictured). The story - titled "How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs?" - uses @trackmangolf data and Bowden's algebra skills to extrapolate approximate carry distances golfers should expect from different clubs based on their driver swing speed. The story is still a useful references for coaches and club fitters to start the discussion about distance with your customers." #golf #golfequipment

A post shared by Jaacob Bowden, PGA (@jaacobbowden) on


The text reads:

"The website GolfWRX has a variety of different content for avid golfers, from in-depth equipment stories to instruction pieces contributed by PGA Professionals. The website has recently been promoting some of its most-read stories over the past 10 years, one of which was contributed by PGA Professional Jaacob Bowden (pictures). The story - titled "How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs?" - uses TrackMan data and Bowden's algebra skills to extrapolate approximate carry distances golfers should expect from different clubs based on their driver swing speed. The story is still a useful references for coaches and club fitters to start the discussion about distance with your customers. Link: https://bit.ly/39zAQ3n"

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In Lost River, West Virginia

Jen and I decided to get away from DC to recharge and drove west about 1.5 hours to see some friends at their new weekend house in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia on Sunday the 1th…followed by our own little multi-day stint from the 15th to 18th in Lost River, West Virginia.

We rented this lovely little mountain cabin and enjoyed the nature, quiet, and hot tub…which also, of course, included daily fires in the fire pits.


We also had a lovely hike in Lost River State Park, which included some fine views from Cranny Crow Overlook.


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The Only Prescription You Need Is More Cowbell


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Industry Integrity and Getting Custom Fit

These days I have a difficult time reading the golf industry magazines and checking out other various forms of golf media. For a game that is supposed to be about integrity, the actual business of golf does not always have it.

For example, there is pay to play involved. I've been asked to write for big publications. One time my draft for a certain magazine received high praise by the assistant editor only to have it be rejected in the end. I asked why because he thought it was fantastic and it also perfectly mirrored the sample article in the magazine that I was asked to use as a guide. I was told that the author of the other article buys advertising and my company hadn't, so his boss said my article had to be pulled.

Many online review are also paid reviews…and articles that look like articles are actually paid advertisements. You really have to read between the lines on those things.

Publicly traded golf companies often act for share holders and not the customers. It's in part why you see accelerated product life cycles in golf (and other industries) even when there is no performance improvement by the newly released product.

There's also a ridiculous amount of well-meaning but, quite frankly, bad golf instruction, coaching, and golf fitness training advice out there.

That being said, I still feel like I need to at least keep a finger on the pulse of the industry. So, yesterday I was thumbing through the latest issue of Golfweek, and I actually came across a nice graphic.

Custom-Club-Fitting

It reminded me of when I was just on my golf trip to Alabama and one of the conversations I was having with a couple of the guys revolved around custom club fitting and how beneficial it can be to golfer performance of any skill level.

In the above graphic, this guy not only got longer but ended up with a tighter shot dispersion too!

Awesome!

Anyway, one of the points we were talking about was that I think you should be careful about is that the term "custom fit" gets thrown around a bit carelessly and perhaps in a way that lacks integrity. Someone or a company might tell you that you are being custom fit, but really it's not…or not to a level that makes as big of a difference as it truly can.

It's kind of like buying a suit or custom clothing. For example, while it's true that buying something in a small, medium, large, or x-large is on some level custom fitting, it's not quite the same as if various other measurements are taken for your chest, neck, waist, inseam, etc…and the clothing is then made for you and you alone.

The same goes for custom golf club fitting.

There are also a couple other potential issues.

Sometimes the custom club fitter is testing from limited options. Getting fit from 1 brand won't have the same affect as having the option of testing from 10 brands. I remember going to a Top 100 club fitter who was very knowledgable and we went through a great fitting process. But his inventory was limited. In the end, although I got fitted for a nice driver that was a much better option than buying off the rack at a big box store, once I was able to later visit another fitting company who had a much deeper inventory to pull from, I was able to pick up another 8 yards on my drives while maintaining the same dispersion.

The fitter also may not be completely transparent about the incentives they receive for selling certain brands, or worse yet are on staff with one brand only. It's understandable and it doesn't mean those people are bad people, it's just one of the flaws of the business model that you have to watch out for.

So…ideally, you want a knowledgeable fitter who has a lot of options to test, has no conflicting allegiance to a particular brand, and who makes decisions solely based on your personal performance.

It is for this reason that I'm a fan of fitting companies like Cool Clubs (7 locations), True Spec Golf (21 locations), and Club Champion (74 locations).

I don't have a personal experience with Cool Clubs, but it seems like they might satisfy the above criteria.

I went to a True Spec in New York a few times and had a fine experience. They are in the dog house with me right now though because Golf Magazine just named True Spec the #1 Clubfitter. Yes, True Spec is good. However, one problem with this award is that True Spec and Golf Magazine are owned by the same company. Yikes! No bias there at all!

Thus my current favorite of the companies/fitters I am aware of is actually Club Champion, also in particular because they have 74 locations in the United States. With that size of a company, they don't have as much of a problem stocking lots of testing options. Their fitters also go through a month long education process and they are paid on salary with no knowledge of the head and shaft margins. It's truly about your personal performance.

One drawback for some will be the cost, though. Their fitting prices are relatively high. However, that may end up being cheaper in the long run than, for example, buying one or two drivers each season in hopes that it will finally be "the one". You'll also be able to rule out a variable when making further improvements to your game as the culprit to a bad shot(s) wouldn't likely be the equipment.

To help those that need it with the cost, I set up a deal with them in which if you mention you were referred by Jaacob Bowden, PGA, you'll get a discount on any service or equipment you purchase through them. To be transparent, I could've taken an option in which I also receive a financial kickback for the referral, but I wanted to refrain from the conflict of interest and recommend you to them simply because they do a good job and not because I'm getting paid.

Enjoy the discount as well as the longer, more accurate, and more consistent shots!

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Visiting John Marshall & My Full Swing

Before I flew back to DC from Atlanta, I decided to stay an extra day to see my old friend John Marshall.

Jaacob Bowden and John Marshall pose for a photo

I know John back from my days in long drive and with Mike Austin and Dan Shauger. John played golf in college and is a 5-time World Long Drive Championship Finalist and was the 2005 and 2006 ALDA Super Senior National Champion. Now-a-days he is teaching golf part-time at Steel Canyon Golf Course and is considered one of the best teachers in the state of Georgia.

While we were at the range and lunch and before he dropped me off at the airport, we chatted for hours about golf and life…and John also took a look at my golf swing. I was curious to know his thoughts as a teacher, but also as a former long driver and someone who worked with Mike Austin and Dan Shauger.

One of the problems I've had over the years is that I was a little too concerned with how my swing looked. In talking with my mental coach, I think it in part had to do with me wanting to be liked. Growing up and early in my golf career, like many people, I admired the powerful yet effortless looking swings of guys like Fred Couples or Ernie Els. I also took a lot of influence from golfers like Ben Hogan, Count Yogi, Sam Snead, Mike Austin, and John Daly.

I think subconsciously I had something operating internally that was saying if I can have an optimal and beautiful swing, then I will get attention and people will like me. This plagued me a bit back when I played high school and college basketball too. I had a good vertical leap and sometimes I would rather jump high for the ooh's and aah's versus actually getting the rebound.

Jaacob Bowden dunks a basketball at age 26

I even went so far as to map out a swing blue print on paper, the ideal way in my mind for me to swing.

The problem was that, although I liked how this "ideal" swing looked on video, it was never as consistent as was needed to play what I felt was my best golf. With that swing, I hadn't posted a round in the 60s and I could just as easily shoot in the 70s as the 80s.

However, if I stopped thinking about making it look optimal and instead focused on hitting as consistently as I could and making my dispersion circles tight, I scored much better. All my rounds in the 60s that I recall were with so-called "imperfect" swings.

Last year, I played 9 holes this way in New Mexico at Black Mesa Golf Course from the black tees 7,307 yards…and I recall hitting every fairway and every green, shooting par. And when I played with this swing on the back 9 of the 8,191 Ross Bridge Course on the Robert Trent Jones Trail, I also played well and I remember hitting every fairway there too. I was +1 on the 9 but it translated to a +6 handicap because of the course difficulty…and perhaps even better considering the soft conditions. That's good enough to play the PGA TOUR.

But when I look at this swing on video, I never liked how it looked and I was always averse to it being filmed.


In the backswing, my head drifts away from the target and I raise up. At the top, I'm really laid off, I don't get my lead shoulder down enough, my hands are really flat, and my trail leg doesn't quite straighten. At impact, my lead leg isn't straight enough, my hips don't turn enough, I'm not off my trail foot enough, and I'm holding off my hands and not free-wheeling the club enough. I give up quite a bit of potential power and I could pick apart these swings endlessly.

That being said, more or less I hit it where I want. In fact, I'm not sure I really missed a shot during our range session.

After seeing my shots and watching the corresponding videos, John said he loved my move and wouldn't change a thing. This was good for me to hear.

Between what I've been working on with my mental coach about self-love and John's reinforcement of how I was swinging at the range and the dispersion/consistency results it was producing, I think going forward I just need to quit worrying so much about what others think and embrace my "imperfect" swing and all of the little idiosyncrasies about it.

My scores will thank me…and who knows, perhaps it gets me out on the PGA TOUR.

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The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

From February 27 to March 2nd, I had a lovely trip down to Georgia and Alabama for golf with my friend Greg and 5 other guys.

After flying down to Atlanta on Thursday, Greg, Brian, and myself drove about 1.5 hours over to Alabama and took on the Lakes Course at Grand National, which is where they've previously hosted the PGA TOUR's Barbasol Championship. The weather was pretty cold and it was quite windy. With the soft conditions, the course played very long. In my opinion, the best hole was the Par 3 16th hole.


Quite honestly, I was struggling during this round. I felt like I was thinning nearly all my full shots and I even topped a few. My iron shots were also leaking a little to the right. It wasn't until the back nine that it occurred to me what the culprit was…my shoes.

Typically, I buy shoes from New Balance because, first and foremost, they are comfortable for my feet. I have a size 12.5 EEE foot, so it always helps that New Balance has something that doesn't kill my feet. Secondly, I like them because they perform. Lastly, I can usually find something that I like aesthetically.

That's how I choose shoes: comfort > performance > style.

During my most recent Portugal golf trip, my old New Balance golf shoes died.

New Balance Golf Shoes

They were of a minimalist style and weren't high off the ground. However, the new Fresh Foam LinksSL ones I got have quite a bit more sole height. Making my usual golf swing with a high soled shoe that was used to a lower soled shoe now made sense why I was thinning everything. The more rightward iron shots made sense too because effectively I would've had a flatter lie angle coming in to the ball.

Once I realized that, I started to adjust on the back nine and had my best drive of the day on the last hole, but it still took me 2.5 rounds to fully get used to the shoes and start hitting my normal shots again without having to consciously think about it.

Anyway, after the round, we drove another 2.5 hours to Ross Bridge, where we would stay the next two nights. With the golf and all the driving, it was a fun but long day.

Saturday, we took on the even longer Ross Bridge.


I still wasn't playing my best, but I continued to get more used to the height of my new shoes and I was able to shift more and more over to swinging without thinking as much.

For Sunday, we originally planned on checking out and driving 1.5 hours to play Silver Lakes, which is where a US Open qualifier will be held in a couple months. However, due to it saving drive time, letting us sleep in an extra 1.5 hours, being wet and wintery conditions, and getting Greg back to the Atlanta airport on time, we decided to just play Ross Bridge again.

During the front nine of the second time around the course, I continued to get more consistent and on the back nine I felt like tour level golf, like I know I can play, started to finally show up. I ended up shooting +1 on the back nine (lipped out a par putt on the 18th), which would equate to a +6 handicap over 18 holes, given the difficulty of the course rating and slope. I would argue it was an even better round than that because the tee shots were all carry with no roll (and sometimes backing up a yard or two!). I think on that back side I played as good as any tour player.

So, it was nice to get adjusted to my shoe height and finish the golf trip like that.

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In Portugal for Golf

In Portugal from February 10th to 18th.

Due to the timing of my international flight, I arrived a day before everyone, which gave me time to site see a bit and get some good eats. Click/tap the arrow on the right of the photo to see the 2nd one.


Once everyone arrived, the 5 days of golf started. First up was about an hour north of Lisbon at Praia D'El Rey, which we used Golf Boards and had a few great holes along the ocean.








Next up, we moved to our favorite course of the trip, West Cliffs. It had the best club house, greatest number of holes with beautiful ocean views, and overall the facility was in nice condition, save the cart paths and some sanding.






On Day #3, we moved over to the very long Royal Obidos Spa & Golf Resort. This was a a lot more wide open than West Cliffs, where it was fairway or die. You could see the ocean from afar, but it wasn't as close to the water as West Cliffs or Praia D'El Rey.




After Royal Obidos, we changed our base back down to Lisbon and ventured out for Day #4 to the very long Ribagolfe, which is a course that has hosted European Tour qualifying. It was only an hour from Lisbon, but felt like it was out in the middle of nowhere. The local development seemed unfinished and the reception was strangely in an entirely different location than the course. We had fun, we were lucky to have the course to ourselves, and I prefer courses like this one without housing on it, but I don't think any of us would return here.


On Day #5, our final day, we changed our plans from Troia Golf to Lisbon Sports Club…mostly because we didn't think we'd have time to get out to Troia and still get the other guys back to the airport in time for their flight. Lisbon Sports Club was very basic, but it had an old local feel to it, which was nice. Once again, we enjoyed the day but none of us would likely return here again.



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In Sayulita, Mexico for Golf

In Sayulita, Mexico from January 27th to February 3rd.

Lovely to get to play the beautiful Pacifico Course this evening and experience the fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean, Sierra Madre Mountains, and Bahía de Banderas. The Tail of the Whale natural island green was amazing!

Jaacob Bowden plays the Pacifico Course at the Four Seasons Punta Mita.

Also got to take in the beach and a bit of the city while we were there…as well as whale watch, hike in the jungle, and more!!





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One Of The Most Popular Golf Articles Of All Time

Ever read "How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs"?

If you missed it, check it out!

One of the most read GolfWRX articles is Jaacob Bowden's

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44th Birthday

Dinner and surprise cake with friends on birthday eve...then sleeping in, having sheet cake with Jennifer Giroux on a bench by the Reflection Pool in the National Mall, seeing Bombshell at the theatre, and watching “What We Do In The Shadows” at home.

Thanks for all the 44th birthday wishes yesterday!

Jaacob Bowden holds his birthday cake on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial


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