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MIKE AUSTIN, THE MAN AND HIS METHOD
Just in case you are not familiar with Mike Austin's name, I will provide a bit of history. The following is an excerpt from a story titled "The Man Who Cracked the Code" from the pages of The Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2001. The piece appeared in the Sunday magazine and was written by Philip Reed.
In the final round of last January's Mercedes Championships, Ernie Ells and Tiger Woods, two of the Tours longest hitters, launched mammoth drives on the downhill, downwind par-5 18th hole of the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Hawaii. Woods' drive stopped 378 yards away. Ells' ball came to rest next to Woods'. Big hits? Yes, but they don't even come close to matching the 515 yard drive of Mike Austin in the 1974 U.S. National Senior Open. That tee shot is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest ever hit in competition. More amazing, Austin was 64 years old when he crushed his record drive. The record still stands
This tee shot was also assisted by a 25 mph tail wind. However, it was on level ground and was hit with a 43 1/2" long driver with a steel shaft and a persimmon head with the old-fashioned wound ball, which was the technology of that era.
There is no telling how far Mike might have been able to hit the new 3-piece solid core rockets we call golf balls. Or, if he could have been assisted by the much longer length and more responsive modern graphite shafts coupled with the springboard-faced titanium club heads currently on the market.
That tee shot was not the only such drive for him. He has won countless long driving contests. He is also renowned for the remarkable record he set while traveling with the 350 Club, (America's long driving team). In many competitions world wide, between the ages of 75 and 79, he averaged an incredible 312 yards.
As of this writing John Daly leads the tour by averaging 309 yards.
At this writing, Mike is still teaching golf despite having had a devastating stroke 13 years ago which left him with a paralyzed right side and having survived a recent fall which fractured his hip and nearly killed him. Austin's power was only exceeded by his accuracy due to his phenomenal golf swing, which was extremely efficient, perfectly balanced and timed. His swing was a sight to behold. Those fortunate enough to have seen it will tell you it boggled the mind to see the distance he obtained without looking like he was swinging very hard at all. The still photo in the skeleton suit may give you a glimpse of the power of his swing.
Austin formulated the awesome power and accuracy of this swing 50 years ahead of his time by earning degrees in physics, engineering, physiology and psychology. To help explain what he was doing he later received a degree in kinesiology from the National Academy of Applied Science in 1946. Kinesiology is the study of human muscular and skeletal movements, which when properly applied, allows maximum efficiency of the skeleton, combined with the muscles (power producers), and has been a tool used widely in the training of modern track and field athletes with phenomenal results. He pioneered the use of kinesiology in golf and is, without a doubt, unequaled in his understanding of the combined subjects of golf, physics, mechanical engineering and kinesiology.
All of Austin's golf knowledge and his unique ability to integrate those related sciences with his total understanding of the human body made him, in many peoples opinions, the greatest teacher of all time. He has given many thousands of golf lessons to celebrities and other professionals too numerous to mention. In the 1950's he had a television show in Los Angeles about the golf swing and, today, is still widely sought after as a teacher. He was listed as one of Americas top 100 teaching professionals by Golf Magazine until his stroke slowed down his lesson schedule.
Austin is a life member of the PGA and was named Southern California PGA Professional of the year in 1994. He has trained many long drivers of the ball, the most prominent of whom is Mike Dunaway, world champion and author of the book "Hit It Hard," who appears on the cover of this book. Following are some things that have been said about Dunaway: Greg Norman said, "This man is the longest driver in the world." Ken Venturi wrote, "Mike Dunaway combines power and accuracy with a driver better than anyone I have ever seen" and Tommy Aaron remarked, "If Iron Byron ever breaks down they can replace it with Mike Dunaway." I could quote many more just like these.
Your author and guide to this method studied and was guided by this great gentleman for 25 years. However, don't think that it will take you that long to learn it. Quite the contrary. Here, using simple analogies, I will enable you to grasp the concept and the essential movements needed in a short amount of time. Since the actions of the various body parts are easy to perform we will just have to link them together to form the total swing.
Jaacob Bowden, who you will see in the photos in this book, met me in January of 2003 when he was a 14 handicap. After only 4 months of lessons he went from averaging about 250 yards on his drives, and not very straight, to being a scratch player and a winner on the long drive and mini tour circuit.
Less than 5 months after his first lesson and in his first attempt in a long driving contest he finished 8th out of 120 + competitors with a drive of 343 in the grid. He hit several longer than that but they were out, including one that would have won the contest had it not barely missed the grid. He continued to improve over the next few weeks and in his third outing finished fourth. In his fifth outing he won the contest, The Pinnacle Distance Challenge, in St. Louis, Missouri with a drive of 381 yards which must have been most gratifying to him since St. Louis is his hometown. In his next outing, in Oklahoma, he hit the ball 395 on level ground with no wind and again finished fourth. His swing does not look like a drunk at a driving range. It is very smooth and looks very professional.
Anyone who has witnessed a long driving contest knows that most long drivers do not have pretty swings. Jaacob, I am proud to say, is an exception and is proving the method by being very consistent and placing highly in every outing against some very large (6'4" or more and 250+ lb.) and very strong hitters, he is small for a long driver at 6'2" and 210 lbs.
The editing of the style of this book is the work of a fine writer and editor in his own right, Philip Reed, author of the newspaper article mentioned earlier and the book Free Throw with Dr. Tom Amberry, holder of the world's free throw record of 2,750 consecutive free throws. His latest book, In Search of the Greatest Golf Swing is a delight to read and also deals with Austin's knowledge as well as Philip's friendship with him.
This book contains the cumulative knowledge of over 70 years of research by one of the finest minds the world has ever known. He is truly amazing.
I say amazing since his life's accomplishments are nothing short of that, this man who is still actively teaching golf was hitting huge drives in the 1930's. If I were to tell you all that he has accomplished, not only in golf but also many other fields, this book would be just as large but with very little about the golf swing. As Mike Dunaway said, "Compared to Mike Austin, Indiana Jones is a cub scout."
In your authors opinion Michael Austin is the Leonardo Da Vinci of the golf swing. If Da Vinci were alive today, and played golf, this is the swing he would have created.
Austin had the education necessary to invent his own swing by earning degrees in the sciences of physics, mechanical engineering and kinesiology. Using this knowledge he thought up the movements necessary and also developed the verbal skills to pass this knowledge on to others. He has produced several video tapes showing his method and has given seminars worldwide.
Due to the depth of his intelligence and his education he would teach his students in terms that sometimes were beyond the scope of their understanding. He would often be giving a lesson in human muscularity and skeletal medical terms as well as how these things were used in the golf swing.
Your author has made this work free from medical terminology. This book shows Austin's method completely. For the first time it will be described in layman's terms and in a manner enabling the reader to understand the moves and create a sound motion thus improving rapidly. In some instances medical or engineering terms will be used; however, easy to understand drawings and photos will clarify their meaning.
IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS (NOT MUCH) LIGHT
When the first golfers set about trying to learn this most challenging of all games, they were in exactly the same place, knowledge wise, that beginning golfers are today. If you look at the earliest photos of golfers you will see that they look just like modern beginners except for the equipment and the clothing.
This is because the early golfers, just like the modern beginners, simply grabbed the club with both hands and did whatever felt right in order to propel their pellets as far and straight as possible. In other words, the fundamentals of stance, grip and posture either hadn't been stumbled upon, in the case of the first players, or learned from others as is the case of the modern neophyte.
Nearly every modern golf instructor agrees that the grip, stance and posture adapted by almost all top players are the main reasons they strike the ball well. However anyone who digs deeper into the published works and video teachings of the modern top teachers finds a wide range of disagreement as to what the rest of the fundamentals are. Yet, somehow all of the books currently on the market say the same old thing and very little modern information is surfacing.
The golf swing as we know it is the result of the accumulated knowledge of the players who have become proficient at the game. This knowledge has been passed on as correct to each new generation of players. The golf swing, as it is taught today, is still very similar to what players were doing in the 1950's with only detail changes. Film and video technology has allowed the close examination of the swings of the most accomplished players. Using these technologies teachers and players are now better able to refine and gain consistency in the ability to hit the ball.
However, the movements now being taught are not the most scientifically precise and powerful motion that the body is capable of doing. Here, we will examine some of the things we can change to eliminate unnecessary movements as we also improve the movements vital to maximum power, precision ball striking and complete ball flight control.
THE CONCEPT OF THE GOLF SWING
If you were to film a complete novice or a touring pro hitting balls with any one club and overlay each one's replays you would see, as you expect, that the professional would swing the same way every time. Surprisingly so would the novice. Even if his swing looked like he was killing an attacking badger, his move would also have the same look every time. Golfers of every level do this and, in my experience as a teacher, I attribute this to the player's mental concept of the swing. In other words, our bodies make the motions that our minds think need to be done in order to accomplish the swing. So we keep thinking and doing the same things expecting different results. Grooving our move and getting good at being bad. How many of your buddies can you spot two fairways away just from their swing?
I find that changing the way the student mentally sees what he wants to do causes the motion to change instantly. If we get a different idea of how we should go about doing something, the new concept instantly makes the physical changes to our motion. To this end, I will break the golf swing into pieces and show how each piece works in the perfect swing. Then, I will put all the pieces together to show how the swing works when the parts are assembled. All of the pieces as they are described will begin to form our concept of what we are doing. Later, the assembled pieces will blend into a very simple concept that will provide the power and accuracy that we seek. Although we will describe the body's actions separately to facilitate learning, they must ultimately be used as one.
What the mind can conceive the body can do when we obey the laws of physics and use the human machine according to its design. Here, you will find the understanding and the scientific knowledge of how the Austin method works. When the mind grasps the simplicity of the movements the body will produce golf shots that are absolutely controlled as to launch angle, curvature and power. From there the job of perfecting the golf swing will simply be a matter of repetition.
After spending some time perfecting the new mechanics, until we no longer need to consciously control the body's motion, we will find that some simple changes in the set up will be all we have to do to completely control the flight of the ball.
A WORD OF CAUTION
There are several methods of swinging the club. The left side pull and the rotation swing are but two of many. These different swing types require different body motions to work and their parts are not interchangeable. The components of a swing must fit the swing motion we are trying to make, just as a Ford fender won't fit a Chevy even if they are both yellow and 2003 two-door sedan models.
The swing you are learning here is designed and constructed in a unique way. For it to work it needs to be done in its entirety. It is a recipe for perfect ball striking and just as in any other recipe if we either leave out an ingredient or put too much of an ingredient in we will spoil the result. Mixing some of the swing parts from this book with another swing type is like mixing oil and water. It just does not work. Because of this I implore you to not add anything you learn here to your existing swing. Instead, learn everything about this method as if you were a complete beginner. By doing this you will not be polluting the mix.
If you follow the words and pictures, and do the drills laid out for you in this book, you will be able to build an excellent golf swing in a few months. If you try to take a few parts from this method and add them to your own method you may improve or you may not. As you learn this do not take advice from others. Do not try to incorporate a tip you see in another book or magazine. Stick with the formula and you will attain your goals if you have even a little athletic talent. If you have a lot of talent you may end up being a tour star.
Excerpted from How to "Kill" the Ball by Dan Shauger Mike Dunaway Jaacob Bowden Copyright © 2004 by DANIEL SHAUGER. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 12, 2005
For more than 10 years I have been in search of a better way to hit the golf ball. I have trained under several well know techniques and with nationally known teaching pros. My search is over. In How to Kill the Ball Dan Shauger makes power possible for anyone willing to spend the time to learn the Mike Austin method. Dan lays out in great detail all you need to know to hit the greatest golf shots of your life. Not only will you have more power than you ever felt possible, the ball flys straight and true. In three months of working with Dan's book and the Mike Austin techniques my ball striking is better than I ever dreamed it could be. I have tryed unsuccessfully to play some of the mini tours in Florida. In the past my swing has not held up under the pressure. In three months my shot making and scoring are becoming more and more consistent and I am breaking new ground everyday. I know I will continue to improve and pursue my dream of playing professsional golf. In closing I want to add that I have hit three drives over 340 yards and seen the yardages of all my irons go up as well. If you order this book and follow its principles you will not believe what will happen in your golf swing. Good Luck and Hit IT LONGGGGGERRRRRRRRRRR
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