by Jaacob Bowden

Recently, a couple videos popped up on YouTube of my swing during a District Finals competition for the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships in Arizona in September 2007.

A few comments…

In this particular competition, I was experimenting with using a 48″ 4 degree driver because of the lower spin rate that I was getting with the lower loft. It gets me in to the 1800-2200 spin range which I find gets me more roll once the ball lands. The problem is I had to make a number of swing compensations away from my normal swing with a 44″ regular playing driver (usually between 6-9.5 degrees) to still be able to hit it high enough. At address with the lower loft I widened my stance, tilted a little more to the right, have more weight on my right side, and bent my right knee more than usual (which would make it look not as straight at the top of the back swing). The ball was teed up on a 4″ tee too.

The collapse of spine angle at impact is a little thing I have to fight through sometimes. I don’t think it’s due to too much hip thrust as much as I tend to drive a little too much towards 10 o’clock with my whole lower spine (forcing me to raise my head slightly) rather than just posting on the left leg and driving towards 10 with only my right knee.

I also tend to let my left elbow bend a little more than I like in the back swing (especially with drivers). That’s one reason why you’ll see the club go beyond parallel in these videos. I debate about changing it, though. I think it looks nicer when it’s straighter, but when I straighten it I get a little more rigid and my swing speed slows down. Plus, there’s some research out there that shows that a little bend can add speed. If I remember correctly, I was swinging in the high 130s to high 140s and maxing at 148 mph that day on my SSR.

You’ll also notice the head movement to the right during the backswing, and more importantly the excessive movement of that C7 vertebrae. It would probably not surprise you to hear that my ball-striking in that particular competition was as bad as I can ever remember for a long drive event.  It’s really important from a ball-striking standpoint to keep that C7 still.

Some of these things came from breaking my own rule of swing speed training by not focusing on retaining good swing fundamentals. Prior to this year I had never swung above 144 mph. This year I got it up to a max of 155 mph in training…but got sloppy with my swing.

For next year’s long drive stuff, I was looking at:

1) Going to a 6 degree driver so I don’t have to make as many swing compensations. This would let me use a shorter tee and it would be easier to make good contact.

2)  Using a 46-47″ driver instead of 48″ which will also help with good contact.

3) This year I wasn’t fast enough to hit it far enough with my normal tempo swing (which I can hit straight)…and when going all out I was fast enough, but wasn’t making good contact and losing accuracy. Both equated to not enough distance to advance and win the World Championships. So for next year, I think I’ll try to get my max speed up in to the 160s so I can make a cruise speed in the mid to high 140s (as funny as I’m sure a cruise speed in the 140s sounds).

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