by James Moore
Believe it or not, this is a 100% true and verifiable story which many people find hard to swallow. What makes it even more difficult to believe is that this feat was performed in the late 70’s and early 80’s with the equipment at that time of a wooden steel shafted driver and a wound balata golf ball. The gentleman who performed at this level was none other than the late Mike Austin, the owner of the longest recorded drive in PGA Tour history of 515 yards. This record was set by Mr. Austin at the age of 64 years old, so it’s no surprise that he was still hitting the ball great distances not that many years into the future.
Mike Austin was known for many things, but the one thing that people are becoming more and more interested in, is the way he swung the golf club. Mike’s swing was very unique in comparison to what is commonly taught today. According to it’s proponents, his technique is much easier to learn and more effective in hitting the ball powerfully. In addition, his technique is much easier on the body, especially the back and knees, according to Dan Shauger who spent over twenty-five years learning from, and working with Mike. “As Mike and his ball striking abilities have become more well known, people are coming to us from all over the world, especially Europe and Asia, where golf is very popular, to learn the swing,” says Dan. Dan also commented, “many of my students are so frustrated trying to learn the modern golf swing, or are hampered by bad backs and or knees, or they just cannot make the moves that are being taught and get any distance out of their bodies. What they learn is that it’s not them, it’s the technique that they have been trying to use to hit a golf ball.”
According to Dan, “Mike was a very bright and well educated man with a PhD in Kinesiology ( the study of how the body moves) with a BS in mechanical engineering. Nothing in this swing is done by accident. Every part and piece of every body movement is done in an exact way, there is no guesswork.” And, he continues, “the swing is much easier to learn because it’s done in small parts and steps that build upon each other.” “One thing we don’t use,” says Dan “is a lot of stop action video trying to make people mimic his positions.” The golf swing is a fluid movement, all parts of the body move in relation to each other, not some exercise for a robot. This author has witnessed how other people are practicing at driving ranges and knows why they are not getting any better; the body just does not work the way people are trying to use it to hit the golf ball.
When asked about why the swing is not more popular Dan replies as follows: “Mike was the longest hitter of his, and probably any era, but he was always way too aggressive when it came to course management and a horrible putter for a lot of the same reasons.” If Mike could have gotten these areas under control and found the winner’s circle more often, more people would probably been interested in his method. It’s kind of sad, but the guy who is probably the greatest genius when it came to swing mechanics is not well regarded because he was not a great scorer.
The golf swing went in a certain direction because of the success of certain individuals at the professional level including Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson to mention a few. These men all had very fluid and distinct swings, but had many similar characteristics in their swings including, but not limited to, a very posted right leg that never changed it’s address angle. They all had significantly more leg movement than what is commonly seen and taught today. After Hogan’s book “Five Lessons, The Modern Fundamentals of Golf,” there was has been an ever- increasing trend toward quieting the lower body and trying to swing with limited leg involvement and a restricted hip turn. This way of teaching the golf swing was something that Austin vehemently disagreed with, and was very vocal about when he was still alive. “Mike was a very opinionated and strong willed man”, says Dan, “afterall, he was out driving many of his contemporaries by 60 to 100 yards.” Mike was very not afraid to share the opinion, based on his education and experience, that golf teaching was going in the wrong direction. That said, once convention becomes accepted, it’s very hard to change people’s mind’s or perceptions.
With the availability of information on the internet and many golfers looking to gain distance, their search for information about Mike Austin often leads them to Dan Shauger. Make no mistake says Dan, “Mike was not just long, he was straighter than anyone I’ve ever seen.” That’s what makes the swing so unique. While there is always some sacrifice of accuracy for distance, our students are both much straighter and longer because of the way we use our bodies and release the golf club.
“I have people coming to me from all over the world to learn this swing,” says Dan. According to Dan, “many of my longer hitting pro’s are in Europe including Olivier Schmit and Pierre Puissett who, in regular and senior tours events, respectively drive the ball well over 350 yards. Unlike many long drivers of the golf ball our swing appears to smooth and effortless. People watching just don’t understand how someone can hit the ball that far with little perceived effort.”
Dan comments further in saying, “I have people coming to me that are ready to quit golf in many cases because they are so frustrated and confused by the instruction they’ve received or they just can hit the ball a reasonable distance with any accuracy. I’ve had students that have been told they should give the game up and try something else. We’ve been able to help just about everyone. My average student gains 20 yards on just their pitching wedge not to mention increased distance on the woods and driver.”
“We’re starting to get pretty busy,” says Dan, “the word it starting to spread. Recently we launched a membership site to teach the entire swing online, plus how to play golf. The response has been great and since the membership comes with a money back guarantee, people are confident they will not be wasting their time and money. Golf’s a lot more fun when you can hit it pretty straight and far. I’m losing a few yards now that I’m in my 70’s says Dan, I can only hit it about 280.” Anyone interested should visit www.danshaugergolf.com.. Check it out.