I began working with Stephan Jaeger in March of 2022, just after the Valspar Championship. During our initial phone call Stephan made it clear he wanted to improve his driving, as it was really holding him back on Tour.
With the way his driving was, holding onto a PGA Tour card was going to be very unlikely.
One of the nice things about working with PGA Tour players is that every shot they hit on the PGA Tour (not including majors & events outside the US) is tracked with ShotLink. This means it is easy to assess a player’s skill level in a certain aspect of the game versus their competitors, and track it over time.
From the start of the 2021/22 season, through the Valspar, Stephan had played in 14 events. Below is a summary of his driving statistics, and some other key stats up to that point.
|Strokes Gained Off The Tee||-1.06 (212)|
|Avg Driving Distance (yards)||285.8 (192)|
|Club Head Speed (mph)||112.97 (141)|
|Ball Speed (mph)||169.48 (139)|
|Fairways Hit %||53.71 (173)|
|Strokes Gained Total||-0.519 (161)|
|Official World Ranking||170|
The figure in brackets is where he ranked on the PGA Tour in each stat.
As you can see from the table, Stephan was near the bottom of the PGA tour rankings in average distance, fairways hit, and Strokes Gained Off The Tee.
From this point forward Stephan committed to three things.
1) Making A Conscious Decision To Swing Faster On The Course:
When we are struggling with a particular part of the game it is easy to get defensive and careful, and try to “steer” the ball. This generally doesn’t lead to good swings. In Stephan’s own words…
“Right now I am short and crooked, I might as well be long and crooked”.
Here Stephan can be seen giving it a good rip during a PGA Tour event:
Describe Stephan Jaeger’s swing in three words. pic.twitter.com/cYzJCikXZn
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 3, 2023
2) Speed Training with Driver:
This meant hitting a lot of drivers each week with feedback from a launch monitor trying to get the ball speed as high as possible. Stephan logged every swing in a google sheet on his phone while practicing so we could monitor performance as we went, and make adjustments when necessary. In these sessions, Stephan was still trying to hit drives that would be accurate enough to be desirable on the course in competition, but the main priority was absolutely smashing it.
Interestingly, Stephan credits this type of practice with also improving his accuracy.
In Stephan’s initial speed sessions he was recording ball speeds in the high 160’s to low 170’s mph. (PGA Tour average during tournament play is 173mph). He is now in the high 170’s and low 180’s mph during his speed training sessions. It is extremely rare he ever records a ball speed of less than 176mph in training, and is generally 178-180mph. On good days, ball speeds are 180-182mph.
The table below shows Stephan’s first speed training session. Note that this data is from the range, where there is no worry of a bad outcome, and the main focus is on speed.
The average ball speed for this session was 167.8mph.
Stephan’s average ball speed on the course in PGA Tour events for the 2022-23 season was 175.5mph. A huge increase!
Here is a video of Stephan speed training during the Genesis Invitational in Riviera in February of 2023:
3) Training Like a Power Athlete:
Fast golf swings are a very high power activity. Your physical capabilities will play a large role in determining how much one will get out of the speed training mentioned above. If someone is immobile and has weak muscles, their potential for speed is low.
We focused a lot on jumping exercises for lower body power, medicine ball throwing and slamming for trunk and upper body power, and heavy weight lifting to improve strength. This also helps reduce the risk of injury from speed training, and reduces the amount of aches and pains one gets from a large volume of practice, play, and speed training.
We worked a little bit on range of motion with dynamic flexibility exercises in each warm-up. The warm-up was the same whether it was before golf practice or play, speed training, or in the gym. It is the exact same routine as 09) Mobility #1 in the Fit For Golf App.
These workouts were done 2 to 3 times each week. Stephan logged every set in the Fit For Golf App, so we could track his strength progress in each exercise.
Here is an example of some of the things we work on in the gym. The reps are kept low, and the force output on every rep is maximal:
In the first table below are Stephan’s stats for the 2021/22 season prior to the Valspar (12 events) VS the 2022-23 season (25 events).
As can be seen from the table, Stephan increased his average driving distance by 20.5 yards, while also increasing fairways hit %. I think a common misconception in the golf world is that increasing swing speed and distance will automatically mean less “control”, but that is not necessarily the case.
Stephan just finished the 2022/23 season with his best ever FedEx Cup position of 56th. Now it’s time to continue with the same plan in the Off Season, and hopefully continue the trend!
What does this mean for you?
In the 18 months I have been working with Stephan we have only met in person once, and this was 11 months into his training. All of the training has been remote via the Fit For Golf App.
If a PGA Tour player with years of dedication can increase their average driving distance and become more accurate, imagine how much room there is for improvement for those who haven’t begun speed and strength training yet!
There are programs to suit all fitness levels, whether working out at home or in the gym. The google tracking sheet shown in the article is also available to download in the app.
You can get a FREE one month trial on the app by signing up to the monthly plan with the code TRIAL at checkout. Click here to get started.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and let me know if you have any questions.