2023 Michigan PGA Professional Championship Recap at Flint Golf Club: My Experience and Future Plans

Over the past three days, Flint Golf Club in Flint, Michigan hosted the 2023 Michigan PGA Professional Championship.

2023 Michigan PGA Professional Championship

In the 1st round, I was the final player in the field to tee off at 2:20pm, which is great for me. I prefer playing in the afternoon and evening and it was a really nice summer day with a high of 79 degrees Fahrenheit. It was my first tournament round in about 5 weeks and overall I felt like I hit the ball pretty well, playing 15 of the 18 holes just fine. I ended up in 70th place out of 124, roughly in the middle of the pack. Considering I had been so busy and hadn't played or practiced much lately, I felt okay about the start and was hopeful to clean things up a bit in the 2nd round.

In the 2nd round, we teed off earlier at 9:50am, but the weather was nice again in the high 60s and low 70s. I ended up having one of those difficult to explain tough days where my striking was off. I tried to manage the course by playing to even safer areas, but it didn't help much. I fell down the leaderboard to T-108th and missed the cut.

Going forward, I might take a little break from tournaments to implement a few swing changes that I've wanted to do for quite a long time that I hope will bring my swing more in to alignment with me as a person. I've got a 3-month membership at the new Five Iron Golf location in downtown Detroit. So, I think I'll play around with the cameras and Trackman simulators a bit to see if I can it dialed in to what I envision.

Congrats to the eventual winner Kyle Martin of Lochmoor Club on a great final round of 65 and -14 total for the tournament.

Thanks to everyone who made the tournament happen, including Flint Golf Club, the host pro Ed Bialek, the Michigan PGA tournament director Justin Phillips, and all the sponsors - presented by Cadillac, Corebridge Financial and Club Car with supporting sponsors Nike, TaylorMade Golf, Titleist/Footjoy, Callaway Golf, the Golf Channel, Gallagher and the PGA TOUR.

5th Guest Appearance on Golf Smarter Podcast

Thanks to host Fred Greene of the Golf Smarter podcast for having me on as a guest for the 5th time!


"Episode 888: Jaacob Bowden of swingmangolf.com and jaacobbowden.com was convinced that someday he would be a competitive Tour level golfer. He’s now been around the game for 20 years and his quest has brought him to the Speed Golf World Championships, World Long Drive Championships, and becoming an excellent golf instructor. In this episode we discuss his journey and how golfers at any age or skill level can increase their swing speeds which results in greater distance."

Chapter Markers:

0:00 Intro
1:31 First time we met
2:41 Making the PGA TOUR
6:27 Being a starving artist
12:50 Mindset in long drive
17:18 Losing the ego
18:47 Swing speed training
20:16 Benefit of swing speed training
25:04 How to increase swing speed
28:56 Speedgolf
31:26 What clubs do you carry in Speedgolf
34:19 Running on a golf course
38:38 Tour experience
40:47 PGA TOUR experience
43:52 Plans for 20th anniversary
47:55 Swing Man Golf

Listen to Episode 888 here:

Listen to "Speed Swing Training - Without Bulking Up Like Bryson, featuring Jaacob Bowden | #888" on Spreaker.

Watch the episode on YouTube here:

Listen to the other 4 episodes with Jaacob as a guest on Golf Smarter below:





2021 US Open - Local Qualifying - Practice Round - Bunker Hole-Out

Dusting Off My Mike Austin Swing

It felt a bit slow, rigid, and awkward because I hadn't done it for a while, but for this video I decided to try to see if I could make the original Austin swing I had previously made years prior.

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.

My Full Swing at Pebble Beach Driving Range

Here are a couple of my full golf swings filmed at Pebble Beach's driving range at age 29.

My Full Swing - Back View

My Full Swing

The Hay - Pebble Beach's Renovated Par 3 Course

There's a lot about Golf Digest that I'm not a fan of - click bait, non-golf related content, exaggerated word choice, ads framed as articles and the related lack of transparency to readers/viewers about advertiser relationships, etc. These are the types of things we need to evolve past as a society and they are in part why I don't subscribe to the magazine anymore nor click on certain types of content.

However, I did really enjoy this video from today that showcases Pebble Beach's recently renovated par-3 Peter Hay Course, now called The Hay.

First of all, I really love well thought out meaningful creations, I very much enjoy quality work/products (I'd rather have 1 awesome thing rather than 10 crappy things), and as someone who is excellent with efficiency, spatial arrangement, intuitive design, and improving things, in the video I really appreciate:

  • The apparent smart flow of traffic from the new range area, through the short course, down to Pebble Beach's clubhouse
  • The arrangement of holes to maximize the view of the bay (this wasn't done in the original design)
  • The fun variety of shot options (ex. being able to putt from the tee box on 8 of the 9 holes, incorporating different hole directions, etc)
  • Mimicking the famous 7th hole from the main Pebble Beach Golf Links courses
  • The selection of yardages to tell a story about Pebble Beach's history

This new renovation looks spectacular and I'm very excited to play it one day.

The video further tugged at my heart strings for two very important personal reasons.

I first moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea in early 2004 towards the start of my golf career. At the time, there was this deal where you could hit unlimited range balls and play Peter Hay as many times as you want for around $400/year.

It was a fantastic deal for locals…and particularly for a guy like me who was dealing with circumstances of student loan debt, credit card debt from having switched to my golf career, and an income near the poverty line.

I don't want to come across as name dropping or putting people on pedestals, but because it was Pebble Beach, there would always be well-known people playing there. I remember seeing Kenny G and Clint Eastwood. I walked 18 holes chatting with Charles Howell III at Del Monte. Nick Watney was kind enough to give me golf advice about going from the then Nationwide Tour to the PGA TOUR. I hit balls and chipped with Rocco Mediate, who I found to be so lovely, friendly, and engaging.

I'd hit tons of balls and play Peter Hay over and over. I shot the unofficial course record of -6 for 9 holes and it's where I've had my 3 hole-in-ones.

  • 1st Hole-In-One - November 6th, 2004 - 9th Hole - 9-Iron from 74 yards
  • 2nd Hole-In-One - October 9th, 2005 - 8th Hole
  • 3rd Hole-In-One - October 10th, 2006 - 3rd Hole

Off and on from 2004 to 2006, I lived all around the peninsula in a number of places that included:

  • Carmel-by-the-Sea (rented a bedroom in a cottage for $200/month)
  • Seaside (rented half of an old construction trailer in a back yard)
  • Carmel (rented a basement studio for $500/month)

I played Bayonet, which hosts PGA TOUR Q-School and US Open qualifiers. I played Poppy Hills Golf Course (formerly hosted a PGA TOUR event) and the Preserve Golf Club. I drove past Cypress Point Club often. I passed my PAT (Playing Ability Test) for the PGA of America at Laguna Seca with a 78-72.

At one point, I also worked for the Pebble Beach Company at Spanish Bay and was fortunate to play the company's four courses (Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay, and Del Monty Golf Course) many times for free as an employee.

But aside from all the amazing golf experiences, the peninsula is also where I met my wife Jennifer, who was attending graduate school at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

We had many wonderful adventures that included:

  • Walking on Carmel Beach
  • Having brunch at Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch
  • Going to the night baths at the Esalen Institute
  • Dining at Nepenthe in Big Sur
  • Hiking in and around Big Sur
  • Checking out the shops in Carmel-by-the-Sea

If you haven't ever made a trip out to this part of the country, I'd highly recommend it. You can fly in direct to the small Monterey airport. However, San Jose is only about an hour drive towards the north…and San Francisco and Oakland (and Napa Valley for wine drinkers) are similarly close within about two hours.

British Open Qualifier Results

I had a bit of a tough break today at British Open qualifying at Wildernesse Golf Club. I woke up this morning with some allergic reaction and my left eye was half swollen shut. I tried to play anyway. Missed the cut but I did make an eagle (345-yard drive and 6-iron to inches) and made The Open website anyway!

Jaacob Bowden warms up on the driving range ahead of his tee time at the 2018 British Open qualifying at Wildernesse Golf Club in England

Thanks to Sterling IronsSwing Man GolfSnell Golf, Steve Thom, my lovely wife, and everyone else for the support!

Will give it a go again next time!