Still Bringing the Heat at 48: My Record 372.60 Yard Drive

48 and can still bring the heat! My 372.60 yard drive is the greatest of all time at Belle Isle Golf Detroit! Love hitting balls here on the TopTracer Range and playing the Par3 6-hole course!

The Mike Austin Swing with Jaacob Bowden

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 October 15th, 2007, I launched Swing Man Golf as a way of answering that question for people, while creating a new source of income for myself.

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.

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.

GolfWRX The 19th Hole: Long Drive Champion Jaacob Bowden On His Swing Philosophies

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.

Show Notes:

"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."

Month Long Golf Trip

Beginning a month-long long distance contest road trip to Phoenix, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, and Houston.

Advanced Through World Long Drive Championship Local Qualifier

Advanced through local qualifying to the district finals for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships. If I get through districts, I'll be going to the world championships on ESPN!

370 Yards at World Long Drive Championship District Finals

Finished 40th (370 yards) out of 58 at the district finals. The top 4 went to worlds. Get another shot in 2.5 weeks.

Record 144 MPH On My Swing Speed Radar

Swung 144mph tying my fastest recorded driver swing speed ever.

Long Drivers of America Q-School

In Dallas, Texas from March 31st to April 2nd for the Long Drivers of America Q-School.

Meeting Up With Dan Boever in Fresno, California

In Fresno, California from April 16th to 17th to meet up with long driver and golf entertainer Dan Boever.

1st Long Drive Competition - 342 Yards

Finished 8th (342 yards in the grid - winner at 367 yards) out of over 100 competitors in my first long drive contest in Phoenix, Arizona!!!

Turning Pro - Finished 2nd ALDA

After 6 months of hard work, I've decided to turn pro for long drive!!!

Finished 2nd (655 yards - best 2 drives in grid - 6 balls) in an ALDA sponsored long drive contest at Lone Tree Golf Club in Chandler, AZ!

330 Yards - 4th Out of 40 Competitors

Finished 4th (331 yards in grid - 6 balls) out of ~40 competitors in a Goodyear, AZ long driving contest.

Won Pinnacle Distance Challenge 381 Yards

Finished 1st (381 yards in grid - 3 balls) out of 124 competitors in the Pinnacle Distance Challenge in St. Louis, MO!

395 Yards in Oklahoma Long Drive Competition

Set a new personal and competitive record for longest drive in a grid or fairway by blasting a ball 395 yards in an Oklahoma City, Oklahoma long driving contest!!

Long Drivers of America Tour Event

In Sacramento, California. Got the flu and missed qualifying for the Long Drivers of America Tour event by 1 spot. :-(

331 Yards to Advance in World Long Drive Championship Qualifying

Decided to give the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships a go again. Advanced through local qualifying in Pleasanton, CA with a 331-yard drive!

370 Yards in World Long Drive Championships Local Qualifying

Hit a 370-yard drive in Pleasanton, CA trying to win a Local Qualifier for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships.

350 Yards in World Long Drive Championship Local Qualifying

Hit a 350-yard drive in Pleasanton, CA trying to win a Local Qualifier for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships.

374 Yards in World Long Drive Championship Local Qualifying

Hit a 374-yard drive in Alviso, CA trying to win a Local Qualifier for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships.

361 Yards in World Long Drive District Qualifier

In Mesquite, Nevada from September 13th to 17th.

Finished T18th (best drive 361 yards) out of 74 competitors in Mesquite, NV at the Districts for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships. The Top-7 advanced to the World Championships.

350 Yards in World Long Drive Championship Local Qualifier

In Phoenix and Sedona, Arizona from June 1st to 3rd…advanced through local qualifying for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships with a 350-yard drive at Lone Tree Golf Club in Chandler, AZ.

421-Yard Win in World Long Drive Championship Qualifier

Won a Local Qualifier for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships in Warner Springs, CA with a grid-record and personal competitive best drive of 421 yards.

355 Yards in World Long Drive Championships District Qualifying

In Phoenix, Arizona from September 5th to 9th…advanced to 4th round of Districts (D3) at the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships- best drive was 355 yards.

378 Yards in World Long Drive Championship District Qualifying

In Mesquite, Nevada from September 10th to 16th…advanced to 4th round of Districts (D2) at the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships - best drive was 378 yards.

Learn the Mike Austin Swing - Video Launch

NOTE: This post was edited on May 4th, 2021 to include the full video, which is now posted for free on YouTube.
Learn the Mike Austin Swing with Jaacob Bowden

Launched my new Mike Austin instructional video.

Be sure to check it out below:

Golf & Country Magazine


Be sure to check out the 3-page article about me in this month’s Golf & Country Magazine!

Return Guest on ESPN Golf Talk Radio

Jaacob Bowden returns as a guest on ESPN Golf Talk Radio to discuss how to increase swing speed & the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships

Was a return guest on ESPN Golf Talk Radio.

Show Notes:

"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."

You can listen to the show below.

Hitting Drives To Raise Money For St. Pius X High School

Hitting drives at Union Hills Golf Course to raise money for St. Pius X High School

Hitting drives as the Pro on #11 at Union Hills Golf Course to benefit my alma mater, St. Pius X High School in Festus, MO.

Hit it Longer - Swing Speed Training for Longer Drives

Check out Jaacob Bowden's Hit It Longer - Swing Speed Training for Longer Drives Video at Swing Man Golf

Want to hit it longer?

Head over to Swing Man Golf to see my new video called “Hit it Longer - Swing Speed Training for Longer Drives”.

Broke the 600 lb Barrier

Jaacob Bowden performs a half squat for 1 rep with 605 pounds on the bar

Broke the 600 pound barrier on my half squats. 605x1!

375 Yards in World Long Drive District Qualifying

Was eliminated after hitting 375 yards (needed 380 to advance) at the last stage of qualifying for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships.

More Distance for Golf - Part 1 - Long Drive Techniques

Distance is an extremely important aspect of becoming a better golfer. Perhaps you’ve seen this graphic put out by the folks at Trackman.

Handicap Vs Average Driver Club Speed per 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.

Read more at GolfWRX...

More Distance for Golf - Part 2 - Long Drive Equipment

Flightscope Optimzer can help you dial in your driver launch conditions to maximize distance
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.

Read more at GolfWRX

More Distance for Golf - Part 3 - Long Drive Fitness

Golf fitness expert Jaacob Bowden recommends heavy squats to help build club head speed and hit for more power

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?

Read more at GolfWRX