Partner in the Journey with a Tour Player

Partner in the Journey with a Tour Player


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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!

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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.

Get custom fit golf clubs to help improve your game

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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