The Pursuit of Clubhead Speed
I have always had an obsession with speed. At an early age, playing sports became one of my passions in life, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that my quickness was my most important asset when competing against my peers. While I was never the biggest or strongest kid out there, I could always rely on my speed to get the job done.
My grandfather first introduced me to the game of golf at the age of ten. Naturally, I became fixated on how fast I could swing the club and how far I could hit the ball. At this point in my life, I didn’t care about learning all of the intricacies of the golf swing – all I wanted to do was grip it and rip it, John-Daly-style.
Luckily for me, my grandfather never tried to put any restraints on my swing. His philosophy was that I could always improve my mechanics down the road, but it was crucial to acquire as much speed as possible while I was in my prime developmental window.
It wasn’t until I graduated from high school and all my other sports were over that I finally started to take my golf game more seriously. By that point, I had developed PGA-tour-level clubhead speed without even realizing it.
My pursuit for more speed eventually led me into the world of Long Drive competitions. Although I had no proper coaching at the time and didn’t know what I was doing, I was immediately drawn to the highly competitive atmosphere of the sport. After entering a few local World Long Drive qualifiers and seeing some initial success, I knew instantly that I had found my new obsession.
In order to obtain my new goal of being one of the longest hitters in the world, I needed some help. After extensive research, I found a well-respected Long Drive coach who was willing to work with me. I then made my way across the country to get to work.
After just two days, my new coach told me that the only thing holding me back from achieving proper world-class speed was my lack of size and strength.
Over the next few months, I implemented a new strength-training program designed by my coach and began to pack on significant mass. While I had always been a regular in the gym, this was the first time in my life that I was attempting a complete body transformation. From the outside, I appeared to be well on my way to achieving my goal of becoming faster and more powerful. However, something drastically different began to take place.
Despite seeing tremendous gains in the gym, I was shocked to notice that I was actually losing clubhead speed during my ongoing speed-training sessions. In addition to my disappointing swing results, I was experiencing troubling pain in my left knee for the first time in my life. The pain eventually became so severe that I couldn’t even make it through my usual warm-up routine at the gym or a light hitting session at the range without having to quit because of overwhelming discomfort.
It was at that point I decided to schedule an MRI. Upon getting the results, I was devastated to learn that I had irreversible cartilage loss in my left knee and probably needed imminent surgery. My doctor said that I was making things significantly worse with the strenuous lower-body workouts I was doing. He strongly advised that I lose weight to alleviate some of the stress I was currently putting on my knee. During that brief conversation, he said I was on the inevitable road to surgery and that my dreams of becoming one of the longest hitters in the world were over.
Following my MRI, I dedicated myself to exploring ways to avoid surgery and improve my knee pain. For the first time in my life, I was no longer concerned with my speed and strength, but instead focused all of my time on improving my flexibility, mobility, and nutrition.
Eventually, my new lifestyle began to have positive effects on my knee pain and my overall quality of life. For the first time in a very long time, I was able to make it through the day without having to stop whatever I was doing because of abrupt pain. At that point, I finally had enough confidence in my knee to pick up a golf club again, and, before long, something miraculous started to happen.
Within the first week of getting back out on the course, I felt my swing returning to where it was before I experienced any knee pain. Despite being a year removed from any speed and strength training, I began to realize that my drives were reaching distances I had only seen a couple of times in my life.
My overwhelming excitement only grew when I went through one of my old speed-training sessions and found I was swinging my driver almost five miles per hour faster than I ever had before. It was at this moment that I knew I was onto something revolutionary in my training. I began to supplement my mobility and flexibility routines with regular speed-training sessions, and the results were astounding.
When I first started my journey into competitive Long Drive, my fastest clubhead speeds hovered in the low-130s (miles per hour) range. Within two months of starting my speed-training program, I swung in the upper 130s with ease and even broke into the low 140s with my standard-length driver. Despite weighing less than I had in years and spending almost no time lifting weights, I was able to reignite my dream to become one of the longest hitters in the world.
In addition to seeing what is possible down the road with my own Long Drive pursuits, I am now extremely excited by the opportunity to take on a coaching role at Integrity Golf Performance. Growing up playing multiple sports at a high level, I found that my coaches always played an integral part in my development as an athlete. The role of a coach is something I take very seriously, and I feel lucky to have found a home that puts such a high value on their students’ overall goals and well-being.
What immediately drew me to the IGP family was their team approach to helping their students improve in all areas of their golf games. Through my speed training and overall golf-fitness experience, I have learned many valuable lessons that I am eager to pass along. I’m happy to be a part of the IGP team and eager to contribute to the development of our golfers by assisting them to become more well-rounded and explosive athletes.
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