If you’re interested in increasing your golf swing speed then I’ve got the guy for you. His name is Jaacob Bowden and is the world’s leading expert when it comes to swing speed training.
Jaacob is currently the Official Swing Speed Trainer for the eGolf Tour and he has taught on the subject of swing speed training for the Swiss PGA and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Read on to find out more.
1. Tell us a little about you and your background, Jaacob.
I’m originally from Barnhart, Missouri, which is about 25 miles south of St. Louis. As as kid I always dreamed of playing professional sports. In those days, I played lots of sports but for me it was mostly about basketball and baseball. After high school, I had the good fortune to play NAIA Division II basketball and also be invited to a Minnesota Twins tryout at the Metrodome.
With basketball, I wasn’t really fast enough or as skilled at ball handling as was necessary to be a 1 or a 2 guard. Mostly I was a 3 because I didn’t have to dribble as much and was a good shooter. I also played a 4 at small forward because I had a 34” vertical leap and was strong enough to guard guys that were 6’4” to 6’9”, despite me being 6’2”.
But in the end, that didn’t work out, in part because I lost some of my aggressiveness due to ligament tears in my knees. Both tears were accidental from freak collisions and not because I had bad knees, but as anyone who has had a knee ligament tear will tell you, it’s not something you want to go through. The risk of getting hurt again wasn’t worth it for me. I like to shoot, but I don’t really play anymore.
With baseball, the Twins were looking to fill out a couple spots in their organization. I got invited to fly to Minneapolis for a 2-day tryout with over 100 other guys. After the 1st day, we were cut down to about 25, which was basically enough to have an inter-squad game on the 2nd day with some extra pitchers.
I would say I was in the top 15 guys, however, there were 1 or 2 guys that were definitely a notch above everyone else. So I didn’t make it. But it was a great experience. My favorite memory was fouling a ball off that big wall in right field at home run distance with a wooden bat. Unfortunately, I struck out after that, but it was still cool.
After college I got a job as a computer engineer. I knew that it would be a temporary thing, so in an attempt to find some direction I wrote down a bucket list of things I wanted to do in life and I just started checking them off the list. One thing was to attend every major sports event at least once…meaning one Super Bowl, one World Series, etc.
As it worked out, in 2001 the PGA Championship was being held in Atlanta while I was in town for my job training some technicians on how to use our proprietary software.
Lucky me, the final day of training got cancelled. With the extra day to play with, I bought a ticket to the tournament and followed Tiger, Vijah, Phil, and numerous others. There was one instant where I was the only person walking across a fairway while the ropes were down after the players passed through. While in the middle of the fairway looking out to the galleries, I was overcome with the feeling of actually being a player.
All of a sudden it was like a light turned on and my entire vision was brighter. I thought, “I could do this. I could be a professional golfer.”
I was only a 14-handicapper at the time, however, golf careers aren’t near as short as an NBA or MLB player…so I figured there was time for me to improve. I enjoyed the outdoors, traveling, sports, etc. It seemed perfect.
I mulled it over for another year or so before deciding I didn’t want to be 40 years old, look back, and wonder if I could have made it. So I sold all my belongings, quit my corporate job, took my $40,000 in savings, and moved to California to pursue a golf career.
I’ve since gone on to win the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised 381-yard drive, finish 5th at the Speed Golf World Championships and shoot the championship record for golf score at Bandon Dunes, and make numerous cuts in professional tournaments around the world with rounds in the 60s and 70s.
I also started a website called SwingManGolf.com which focuses on how I was able to make such a dramatic improvement in both my golf game and in my swing speed.
2. What led you to become interested in increasing a golfer’s swing speed?
In order to better compete in long drive and to hit the ball farther in regular golf, I was researching ways to increase my swing speed. At the time I felt I was already pretty well maxed out from technique and club fitting. As such, the only way I could think of to hit
longer was to get my body to swing faster.
During my search, most of the things I found revolved around the technical aspects of hitting farther. That didn’t really help me much because I felt my technique was already pretty solid.
Golf fitness was also becoming more prevalent, but you can be fit and not fast. I wouldn’t argue against someone wanting to improve their fitness, but the affects of being fit don’t really translate in a substantial way to shooting lower scores. More importantly is speed.
Since swing speed training wasn’t available in the golf fitness industry, I had to look to other industries and use my own intuition to find answers. I ended up putting together a program for myself that added 26 mph to my swing in just 37 days.
Presently, even today the golf fitness industry is still lagging behind in that regard. I’ve seen well meaning trainers get excited about getting a client a few more MPH after months or even an entire season of training. That’s great but it’s actually possible to obtain 12-16 mph in just 30 days with proper training.
3. What benefits are obtained from increasing your swing speed?
All else being equal, more swing speed will translate to more distance. More distance means you can shoot lower scores. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between distance and handicap when you go from a 15 handicapper down to a scratch player and tour professional.
For starters, more distance will allow you to clear more hazards off the tee and cut off doglegs. You can start driving par 4’s and reaching par 5’s in two. You will be able to get out of the rough easier.
You’ll be able to hit your approach shots higher and with more spin, thus making it easier to hit and hold greens. Heck, maybe it even means you’ll be able to reach more greens period. With shorter clubs in your hand, you’ll get your approach shots closer which leads to less bogeys and more pars and birdies.
4. Could you give a few case studies of dramatic transformations some of your clients have produced via increasing their swing speed?
Most of our members pick up 12-16 mph in the first 30 days of basic training. However, there are those who are able to dedicate more time and energy, though. On the extreme end, we’ve had several guys go from the mid 90s to the 140s on their Swing Speed Radars and start competing in long drive.
One guy was even in his 50s. This took a lot of hard work over many months. However, the point is that if you’re motivated and willing to hang in there and bust your butt, it is possible.
5. What 2-3 things can a person do right now to increase their swing speed?
If you want to get more swing speed, the first thing to do is to start practicing swinging faster…and still under control. You won’t get faster if you don’t try to go faster. This is something that all professional long drivers do. They work on their speed. It’s like any other skill in life. To get better at the piano, you need to sit down and start clacking away.
It doesn’t have to be your entire golf practice. Just hitting 15-30 balls a couple times per week where you are working on ripping it faster can have benefit.
It’s also important to get a radar for the immediate feedback. I like the Sports Sensors Swing Speed Radar because it’s portable, it travels well, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s accurate. Plus you don’t need to hit balls to check your speed (meaning you can train at home) and you can also check speeds on any training aids you like to use.
Another key thing to do is to make your golf swing muscles stronger through various forms of strength training.
6. How important is golf-specific fitness in reaching top club head speed? Can you recommend one that can help immediately?
As I mentioned, more important than being fit is being strong and fast. The 2-time RE/MAX World Long Drive Champion Jamie Sadloski is only around 165 lbs, however, he can do hex bar deadlifts for reps at 480 lbs. That takes tremendous strength of his hands, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
Other world long drive champions like Joe Miller, Ryan Winther, Mike Dobbyn, Jason Zuback, Sean Fister, etc also show similar strength characteristics. Similarly, when I was at my fastest, I was also at my strongest.
Making your training exercises as golf specific as possible is very important in regards to swing speed training. Perhaps my favorite golf specific exercise is a wood chop.
Go to one of the cable machines in the gym a couple times per week, grab the cable up high (in the same position as the top of your back swing), and pull the weight down to impact (in the same position as impact). Low reps (only 1 or 2 at a time with rest between sets), heavy weight (and moving up whenever possible), and explosive movements are critical.
7. What new developments in swing speed training are you most excited about?
There is very little quality information available as far as swing speed training goes, even by reputable institutions and famous trainers who I’m sure mean well. So honestly I’m most excited about what we’re doing at Swing Man Golf.
Of course we have very good information already in the Premiere Member area of the website, however, every other year or two I try to revamp the swing speed training content…and I’m due for another upgrade. So I’m excited to update it with even more new things that I have learned over the last couple of years.
Beyond that, I’ve done lots of small clinics around the world and taught classes at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology as well as for the Swiss PGA. Now that I have a base back in the US again in New York, I’m excited that it will now be easier for me to bring this education to our PGA of America professionals, golf fitness trainers, etc.
In fact, I’ve started hashing out a swing speed training certification program. I’ve got several projects going on right now which are keeping me busy, so I don’t have an estimated date the certification program will be completed, but I’m picking away at it. It will be very cool once completed.
8. Tell us about some of the products you offer that can dramatically increase one’s swing speed.
I train amateurs and pros in person. However, my time is limited for that. Outside of working with me personally, there is the Premiere Membership at SwingManGolf.com. At the moment, that’s probably the best place to get started.
Becoming a member will also keep you in the loop of future updates and projects like the ones I mentioned above to help you hit the ball longer and lower your handicap.
9. Where can we learn more about you Jaacob and Your Swing Speed Program?
101 Ways to Increase Your Golf Power: Massively Increase Your Golf Swing Distance and Hit It Straighter and Farther Than Ever Before
101 Ways to Increase Your Golf Power is a jam-packed resource of methods to dramatically produce a more powerful golf swing that results in; increased distance, solid ball-striking, more fairways and lower scores.
Includes: select golf drills, golf training aids, golf exercises, golf exercise equipment, golf swing keys, golf equipment, golf visualizations, golf nutrition, even “out there” techniques for increasing your golf power and distance. Get it here.