Last year I spent quite a bit of time at Belle Isle Golf Center, providing both consulting and volunteering services to the new operating group.
This included things like:
Providing personalized golf instruction
Pruning trees/bushes for beautification, enhancing golfer experience, providing natural advertising, ease and practicality of grounds maintenance
Making recommendations for signage, golfer education, instructional and fitness programming, course design, merchandising, landscaping, volunteer programming, range design, parking lot fixes, location of resources, etc
A few weeks ago, my wife Jen and I went over to visit Belle Isle and also play their 6-hole short course. While we were there, Mike told me he had to show me this new piece of fitness equipment. I said sure…and we went in to his private studio gym. However, at first glance, nothing in particular was standing out that I hadn't already seen. He then pointed out a small device attached to his power rack and he told me it was a portable cable machine called ANCORE (pronounced like boat anchor).
For those of you that are familiar with Swing Man Golf's swing speed training programs, you'll know that band and cable training are a common piece of the training, in part because the bands and cables allow you to move through so many different planes and to really mimic your golf swing. I'd use bands with people for basic training at home…and add in cables for more advanced training if a person had access to a gym.
When Swing Man Golf was launched in 2007, when someone asked for a band recommendation, I would usually point them to anything that was compact, light weight, didn't take up much space, and was color coded or labeled in some way such that you could stack or combine the bands to increase strength over time.
At some point, I met Blake Kassel of Bodylastics resistance bands. Blake was really nice to me and I also thought he made a great product. So, for a long time I recommended his bands to people I trained, both amateurs and pros. I still actually have and use these bands when I train…and they are the ones that you see in the below video that I made in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.
Anyway, Mike showed me his ANCORE…and once I tried it, I was immediately hooked for several reasons.
First of all, was its size. As I said, when I first walked in to the room, I didn't even see it. A fully loaded ANCORE is only about a foot long. That makes it a great option to have in an at-home fitness setup when space is a concern.
Second, is its weight. An ANCORE is about 9 pounds, which doesn't make it as lightweight as the Bodylastics resistance bands. However, that's still light enough to make it easily portable for whatever reason you need it to be portable…and, of course, 9 pounds is significantly lighter than having a full cable machine rack like you'd typically see in a gym.
Third, is the ease of maneuverability. Although they do have fixed wall mounts and a sliding track mount, I particularly like when there is even more flexibility built in to a device to really personalize the position, which you get with the rack or strap mounts.
Fourth, is the quality. That's pretty self explanatory, but for me if I'm going to buy any product, quality is something I really appreciate. I'm pretty simple as far as my needs go and I don't carry around too much extra weight in my life, so to speak. However, for the things I do choose to keep around, I want those things to be nice…and I'm willing to pay more if necessary to have a solid product.
Fifth, is the option to easily change the resistance to different levels. Going up in strength and resistance over time without losing speed is a key component to increasing power. Each ANCORE model can easily be adjusted from 5 pounds to 55 pounds (or 65 pounds if you get the Plus option).
I'm in the minority of strength. So, personally I was a little concerned that I would max out the resistance too quickly in training. However, if you have a Dual ANCORE Pro, you can just put each one right next to one another and work with two ANCORE's at the same time.
Optional Speed Work
Lastly, is the ability to work at speed. To increase power, you either need to add strength without losing too much speed, increase speed without much loss in strength, or ideally increase both strength and speed. The ANCORE's allow you to add resistance, as mentioned, but also to go fast, if desired. Sometimes it's not easy to do this with a normal cable machine. The weight plates end up crashing around and making a bunch of noise. An ANCORE is designed to stop moving forward when you do.
All that being said, I ended up getting in touch with the company because I wanted to recommend their products to my own audience.
In full transparency, I will make a commission off your purchase and you should therefore take my recommendation with a grain of salt. But if you'd like to give them a try, enter in coupon code JAACOBBOWDEN in their shopping cart to get 50 bucks off.
That's a win for all. They'll make a sale, I'll get a kickback, and you'll save $50 on all ANCORE models while achieving more speed and distance…which, of course, lowers your handicap and scoring potential.
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.
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.
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.
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 Part 3, the final part of my “More Distance for Golf” series, we’re going to talk about what you can do to get longer from a golf fitness standpoint.
Long Drive Golf Fitness
In all of the interviews I’ve done with my professional long drive colleagues and friends via Swing Man Golf, just one of them said they swing as fast as they do naturally. The lone exception, who said his distance was natural, told me in the interview that he’s in the gym 5-6 days/week. So whether they realize it or not, every single long-drive guy is doing or has done something from a golf fitness standpoint to be able to swing faster to generate more ball speed.
So what are some things they do… and that you can do?
In a previous article, I wrote about how you can build functional speed into your golf swing over several weeks by practicing swinging faster, and using resistance bands to perform downswing band isometrics.
Most amateurs and even professionals don’t work on their speed at all, so when you simply put in a little bit of effort to gain speed, you can make very quick improvements.
If you’re hungry for more distance, here are 6 additional exercises that you can add into your routine to continue building strength and speed to your golf swing.
If you want to hit the golf ball farther and you’re willing to put in a bit of physical effort to achieve the desired results, then consider adding isometric exercises to your training program.
An isometric exercise is an exercise in which a muscle gets contracted but the joint doesn’t visibly move. For example, pushing your hands together as hard as you can will contract the muscles, but your joints don’t appear to move.
Isometrics have been around for many hundreds, and possibly thousands of years with historical application in activities like yoga and oriental martial arts.
Because isometrics do not need much in the way of equipment and can work with just your own body weight, they are relatively safe to perform and are often used in physiotherapy and for injury rehab.
Personally, I first remember learning about isometric exercises when I was studying Bruce Lee’s training regimes in an effort to find things that would help with hitting the golf ball farther.
Thanks to host Jeff Pelizzaro for having me on his 18 Strong podcast.
• Jaacob shares his story from growing up in St. Louis, MO to becoming one of the world’s leading experts in gaining swing speed. • He didn’t start his journey to be a professional until after college and working several years in the corporate world. • He went from a 14 handicap to a professional golfer in a ridiculous amount of time • Jaacob talks about his mentors Dan Shauger and Mike Austin and how they changed his golf swing and ultimately his career path • Jaacob tells us about his long drive competitions and what his training consisted of during that time • He gives us his 2 biggest keys to gaining speed in your swing • Jaacob explains how his system at SwingManGolf.com has helped thousands get more clubhead speed in short period and how you can take advantage of it, too
There seems to be a steady progression of lost driving distance that comes with age, but I don’t recall ever seeing much actual information on the topic. My curiosity got the best of me, so one day I sat down and tried to figure it out.
I started by looking up the ages and driving distances of 440 players on the PGA Tour, Web.com Tour, Champions Tour, European Tour and European Senior Tour.
Here’s a breakdown of the averages I found in five-year increments, along with a calculation of their estimated average swing speeds based on the average Tour players driving distance efficiency being about 2.57 yard/mph.
“With a 2-degree change in driver loft and some minor adjustments made to his swing path, angle of attack, etc., one of my amateur students went from being an already above-average efficient driver at 2.61 yards/mph to an extremely efficient one at 2.75 yards/mph. So with no change to his 102 mph swing speed, he increased his driving distance average from 266 to 280. Then after some swing speed training, he got up to 112 mph and can now hit drives around 307 yards with that same efficiency of 2.75 yards/mph. That’s 41 more yards!”
Let’s talk about the three reasons this student was able to achieve the extra 41 yards, because they can help every golfer add distance to their drives.
Was in Richmond Virginia from June 26th to July 1st participating as a Pro in a speedgolf event at Kanawah Golf Club in conjunction with the Eastern Open from June 27th-30th in order to raise money for the First Tee of Richmond.
"CJ Silas joins Mike & Billy in studio from The CJ Silas Show for a 2012 reveiw and the announcement of her move to Wednesdays on ESPN 1280. Jaacob Bowden from Swing Man Golf calls into the show to discuss how to increase your swing speed and the RE/MAX Long Drive Finals airing on ESPN Sunday, December 30th, 2012."
In 2003, Jaacob Bowden was living in Kansas City working as a computer engineer in the corporate world. Uninspired in his daily work and realizing that playing golf gave him tremendous satisfaction, Jaacob traded in his corporate career to pursue the dream of becoming a Professional Golfer. This journey has since taken Jaacob from being an average golfer who typically drove the ball 220-275 to scratch golfer and long-drive champion.
While Jaacob's long-term goal is to play on the PGA Tour, he has made considerable strides in a relatively short amount of time. In 2003, after working with distinguished golf instructors Dan Shauger and Mike Austin, Jaacob won the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised drive of 381-yards and he has also since hit a grid-record 421-yard drive at a RE/MAX World Long Drive Local Qualifier in Temecula, California.
His athletic ability coupled with his insatiable appetite to learn every aspect of the game has made him not only a respected player but an incredible teacher as well. As a result, he brings perspective and experience that uniquely relates to both the average and professional golfer. Through his own training Jaacob has explored and tested a variety of techniques and training aids - the most recent of which involves researching swing speed training. His personal efforts to increase his own swing speed - and thus hit bigger drives - has made Jaacob one of the foremost experts on speed training in the world.
Jaacob continues to train and prepare for golf tournaments and long drive events while furthering his knowledge of golf and swing speed.