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.
Want to hear a little bit about my golf swing philosophies?
Be sure to listen below to my return guest interview on Episode 34 of GolfWRX's 19th Hole Podcast with host Michael Williams.
"Master Instructor and Long Drive Champion Jaacob Bowden shares his insights on the golf swing with Michael Williams on this week’s edition of The 19th Hole. Also featured is Craig Ramsbottom, President of Dynamic Brands, the company that owns BagBoy, Burton, Riksha, Devant and a host of other top brands in golf accessories."
Want to keep your swing warm in the winter or even increase your speed so you come out of the gates more powerful than ever in spring?
Be sure to listen below to my guest interview on Episode 16 of GolfWRX's 19th Hole Podcast with host Michael Williams.
"National Golf Correspondent Adam Schupak breaks down Tiger Woods’ return to PGA Tour golf at Torrey Pines, and the winners and losers from the week, with host Michael Williams. Also, Michael gives his highlights of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show, and instructor Jaacob Bowden’s tips on keeping your swing warm during the winter."
In cased you missed Part 1 of my GolfWRX.com article on "Jumping for Distance", you can also check out the re-print of it in Volume 2 Issue IV of the Middle Atlantic Section, PGA of America e-magazine, "The Professional".
In Part 1, I wrote about how I think this concept of jumping up with both feet for more power may have come about in part due to misinterpretation of still photography and force plate data, self-propagation, and a possible case of correlation vs causation. I also covered reasoning why these players are often airborne, and that can be from flawed setups that include overly wide stances and/or lead foot positions that are too closed at setup or a re-planted lead foot that ends up too closed during the downswing.
In Part 2, let’s look at what I feel is a better alternative, the one foot jump. To me, it’s safer, it doesn’t complicate ball striking as much, and it can still generate huge amounts of vertical ground force.
If you follow the sport of long drive (whether as a former competitor like me or as a non-competitor) and are interested in distance, you may have come across this modern idea of squatting down during your swing and jumping up with both legs to get more power as you come through impact, even to the point of coming off the ground. In this two-part article, I’d like to share my current thoughts about this.
In Part 1, I’ll go over how I think this two-foot jump concept came about and why I don’t think it’s necessarily a good idea to implement in your swing. Part 2 will discuss the 1-foot “jump” alternative and why I believe it is better.
With the two-foot jump, I think this came about from a few things.
Distance is an extremely important aspect of becoming a better golfer. Perhaps you’ve seen this graphic put out by the folks at Trackman.
Notice that as golf handicaps go up, the average driver club head speed (and thus distance) goes down. Thus, one can deduce that more distance is a must in order to become a better player.
On the PGA Tour, players that keep their cards generally run in the +4 to +6 handicap range. The PGA Tour average club head speed is about 113 mph with the low man usually being around 105 mph.
So, if you were to extend the graphic from above out a little further, this fits right in with the PGA Tour, too. Further, I looked at the scoring averages of the top-20 players and the bottom-20 players on the PGA Tour. And if you compile the low rounds of the day shot during each tournament round, that averages out to be approximately a 63.3 scoring average with a 302.8 yards/drive driving distance.
As you can see, even within the confines of PGA Tour-level golf, distance matters to scoring.
Earlier this week, video surfaced of Tiger Woods swinging his driver during a practice round ahead of the Hero World Challenge. In taking a quick look at his swing, one thing in particular jumped out at me that I thought I would point out for you.
Notice that during his swing, his left foot spins out a bit by the time he gets to his finish.
This observation inspired me to write this article, which is a piece I’ve actually had in mind to do for quite a while.
In modern golf instruction, it’s fairly common to see setups being taught in which the feet are perpendicular to the target line. Geometrically, this sounds fine and dandy. The problem, however, is that most people in their present physical state don’t have the mobility in their hips to be able to accommodate this type of setup… even many pros.
This includes myself.
Often times, what you’ll see is that the player will have no problems in the backswing and downswing. Then at some point in the through swing and/or on into the finish, the lead foot spins out or comes off the ground because it physically is unable to stay in the same place due in part to insufficient hip mobility. This is what you see in Tiger in the above.
Recently I got the following email from one of our Swing Man Golf members named Ken.
Hi Jaacob, Since you’ve been able to do what I’m trying to do, I’m hoping to get some insight from you. I have one question for you, so it should be brief. I’m a big proponent of the 80-20 principle; what do you think gave you the most bang for your buck in terms of improving your score?
According to Wiki, the 80-20 principle, also known as the Pareto principle, states that 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. Business-management consultant Joseph Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. Pareto developed the principle by observing that 20 percent of the pea pods in his garden contained 80 percent of the peas. Wiki also states that it is a common rule of thumb in business that 80 percent of a business’ sales come from 20 percent of its clients”.
I replied to Ken’s message with a few things off the top of my head, but his question got me thinking that a more thorough answer would make for a great article. Personally, I have a very busy life, as I’m sure is the case with many of you. So to get the most bang for your buck, here’s what I’d recommend for you to drop the most amount of shots with the least amount of work.
Back in January 2003, I was a 27-year old 14-handicapper who had only broken 80 once on a normal length golf course, a 78 at the Walker Course at Clemson University. At the time, breaking 90 was sort of my barometer for playing well.
As luck would have it, right after I moved out to California to embark on my golf journey I was taken under the wing of a local Pro named Dan Shauger. By the end of March, Dan helped me add 63 yards to my longest drive and shoot my first 18-hole round of golf under par.
Since then, I’ve posted multiple tournament rounds in the 60s and made numerous cuts in professional golf events. My lowest score in a casual 18-hole round of golf is now a 64 (8-under) at GolfPark Otelfingen in Switzerland, where I now reside.
Obviously, a lot of people were curious about what I did to make such a dramatic improvement. As I look back in hindsight, here are what I consider to be the three things that had the greatest influence on improving my game and lowering my scores.
Before I became a professional golfer, I was a computer engineer and before that I went to college to be a pharmacist.
Little did I know at the time that the pharmaceutical courses I took covering physics, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, etc., would serve me well in my golf career as far as understanding things like angular momentum, pendular motion, coil springs, lever types, joint functions, etc.
In this article I want to spend a little time going over six actions of the wrists and forearms and then discussing how those actions can affect the golf club.
Medically speaking, the six actions are pronation versus supination, radial deviation versus ulnar deviation and palmar flexion versus dorsiflexion.
Now for the big questions — what do those actions mean in simpler terms, what effect do they have on the golf club and what are some pros and cons of one versus another?
Per a suggestion in the comment section of my last article called “How Far Should You Hit Your Golf Clubs?“, the purpose of this post is to summarize all of the carry distance versus swing speed data that was being discussed in to a summarized reference chart.
Several things to note about the data in the chart below are:
• The PGA Tour and LPGA Tour numbers were pulled from the Trackman website in 2010. • The Senior Tour numbers were calculated by taking the 2012 mean driving distance of 273.4 yards per drive on the Senior Tour and back-calculating the other numbers based on the PGA Tour’s average driving efficiency of 2.58 yards per mph of club head speed. • The average estimated PGA Tour club lofts were taken from 30 players by gathering 2010 club data listed on player websites, what’s in the bag articles and videos, and specifications numbers listed on manufacturer websites. It’s not listed on the chart, but for your interest, the average GW/SW was 53.9 degrees and average LW or highest lofted club was 59.7 degrees. • The 19.2 degrees that is listed for the 5-wood, hybrid, and 3-iron is an average of the club(s) each player used that was between the 3-wood and 4-iron. This was done because there is such a large variance of wood/hybrid/iron club choice to fill this distance slot from player to player. • All remaining carry distance data (60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130 and 140) was calculated based on the average PGA Tour carry distances. • The LPGA Tour Trackman data didn’t have numbers listed for a hybrid or 3-iron. Rather they listed a 7-wood carry distance of 174 yards. • There are limitations to the data gathering, calculations, etc., listed here, so please just use it as a rough guide for yourself.
Look at the chart and read the rest of the article at GolfWRX.com…
Was a guest again on Golf Smarter Podcasts. Have a listen to Episode #336 below!
"GSfMO#337 Mike Austin over drove a 450 yard hole while in his 60s! Jaacob Bowden lowered his handicap from 14-scratch with his method and now he’d like to share it with you. Austin is gone but Jaacob met and studied his method of keeping the club face square through more of the swing."