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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.
After Bryson DeChambeau's win at The Memorial, Danielle Tucker invited me back for the 4th time as a guest on The Golf Club Radio Show. Of course, we chatted single length irons and Sterling Irons®. We also briefly talked about swing speed training and Swing Man Golf.
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.
At some point in the last few years, I recall sitting down for a little meditative-type reflection. I thought about where I had been, what I had done, and what was next for me. As I was reviewing my life and career, it became apparent to me that one of the things I’m good at is making dramatic transformations.
For example, I was cut from my high school JV baseball team, yet I went on to be invited to a tryout for the Minnesota Twins at the old Metrodome. I was a sixth man playing high school basketball, and I ended up playing NAIA Division II basketball. After college, I wanted to be in a fitness magazine, so I transformed my body to the point where I made that happen.
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 Part 1, I wrote about some of the technical aspects of the swing you can employ for more distance in your golf game from a professional long driver point of view. In Part 2, I get in to the equipment aspect.
As a visitor of GolfWRX, you probably have an interest in golf equipment… and I assume you are also likely aware of the importance of club fitting. To hit the longest drives possible, club fitting is an absolute must. No top long driver skips this component of distance, because advancing or not advancing can come down to only a yard or two.
Equipment optimization can be the thing that makes the difference.
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.
Thanks to Bernard Sheridan for interviewing me for Episode 99 Breaking Par. One thing we talked about was how to build swing speed in your golf swing.
"Jaacob Bowden of Swing Man Golf is known world wide for helping players of all handicap levels get more distance.
He has written several articles for many popular publications. Appeared on many TV, radio shows and podcasts.
He is here to share his insight this week on episode 99 of Breaking Par with Bernard Sheridan.
I know this will be an episode that goes down as one of the fan favorites."
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.
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.
Coming up on April 13 at 1:30 p.m. EST (Masters Saturday), CBS will be airing the Speed Golf World Championships from Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, where yours truly notched up a fifth-place finish.
For those not familiar with the sport, speed golf combines your normal golf score with the amount of time that it takes you to finish the round. For example, if you shoot 85 in 75 minutes, your speed golf score would be 160.
The rules of speed golf are basically the same as regular golf except you are allowed to putt with the flagstick in the hole to save time, and lost balls or out-of-bounds balls are treated more or less as lateral hazards. This was done because it was thought to be too severe of a price to pay to not only be assessed the penalty stroke but also the lost time from having to run back to the place where you played the original shot.
Elite speed golfers can shoot in the 60s and 70s in under an hour. Take a look on YouTube at my friend and fellow speed golfer Christopher Smith as he breaks 70 in less than 54 minutes.
Obviously, speed golf won’t be for everyone. However, there are numerous things that regular golfers could learn from speed golfers to help them play better. One thing in particular that I’d like to bring up in this article is how to control your distances when you are between clubs.
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…
One of the nice things about having all this new fancy technological equipment like Trackman, Flightscope, ShotLink, etc., at various PGA TOUR events is that distance data can be gathered for each of the players.
In case you haven’t come across it already, here are the approximate Trackman carry distance averages for men at the professional level.
"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."
Got invited to go back for the 3rd time on Golf Smarter Podcasts as a guest for Episode #357.
"Jaacob Bowden of SwingManGolf.com came in 5th at this year’s Speedgolf World Championships. He hasn’t been in running shape since since High School, but trained for 2 months running the streets of Zurich with a golf bag over his shoulder to prep for this international tournament. He joins host Fred Greene to discuss the elite class of Speed Golf, how to train, the rules, and the benefits to the mental game that comes with playing at a very, very fast pace."
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."
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.