Chasing Speed with Two-Time Long Drive Champ Jamie Sadlowski

Most amateur golfers are nowhere near their speed potential.  They either have not trained for speed, or have not trained for it effectively.  Therefore, helping them significantly increase clubhead speed in a relatively short period of time isn’t terribly difficult because there’s so much low-hanging fruit.  

But what about a golfer who already has elite speed?  A former World Long Drive champion, for instance.  How do we help the fastest get faster?

That’s the opportunity we recently had when visited by two-time World Long Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski.  Jamie won the 2008 and 2009 RE/MAX World Long Drive championships, but has been mostly focused on competitive golf for the last decade.  He came to TPI last month for an assessment to see if he could regain his speed from over a decade ago.

Jamie is an incredibly twitchy athlete with efficient mechanics, critical for maximizing speed with his 5’11”, 170 lbs frame.  Since he’s been playing competitive golf, some of his mechanics have begun to favor consistency instead of speed.  Great for scoring, not ideal for Long Drive.  He’ll always be fast for competitive golf, but, in Long Drive, it only pays to be the fastest.  Here are a few of his biggest opportunities to take his speed to the next level.

Increasing Lateral Force

When we talk about ground reaction force, vertical force is often the focus.  While vertical force is closely associated with clubhead speed, it’s obviously not the only kinetic variable we analyze.  In our advanced Power and Golf courses, we highlight the three primary forces and three primary torques that create the “kinetic symphony” of a golf swing.

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We believe there is more than one way to swing a club in terms of mechanics and the same is true for force. There are innumerable force profiles.  For some golfers, twisting (horizontal plane torque) is their superpower.  For others, jumping (vertical force) is their superpower.  In long drive, we want everything to be a superpower.

Golf is a rotational sport, but the linear move (lateral force) helps contribute to the rotational speed.  After all, why does a baseball pitcher want to drive off a mound?

When we looked at Jamie's force plate data, all of the most important forces and torques were well above our PGA TOUR average except lateral force.  He wasn't loading on his trail side so he couldn't drive to his lead side.

More Thorax Lift in the Backswing

In the golf swing, we often encourage golfers to "maintain dynamic posture."  Golfers who “lose posture” by standing up or thrusting towards the ball usually sacrifice speed and consistency.  

However, when observing some of the most powerful golfers in the world on 3D, we’ll notice that some fractionally “stand up” in the backswing.  This not only helps them get their hands higher (more “ramp” time), but allows them to unweight more aggressively when squatting down in transition.  

In 2010, Jamie’s thorax lift in his backswing was 2”.  Last month, it was 0.6”.  It might not sound like a huge difference, but it’s an often overlooked technical element of big hitters.  

Mark Blackburn offered a terrific explanation during a recent Golf Level 3 seminar of how his student Max Homa does this:

Teach the Legs to Drive the Arms

Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion states that “An object at rest remains at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force.”

So how does this apply to the golf swing?  Force precedes motion.  

The ability to create maximum force earlier in the swing is a hallmark of the most powerful golfers in the world.  We need golfers to generate ground reaction force early in their swing so they have time to translate it to the club.  Jamie does this beautifully, but could be even better.

One of the critical differences between Jamie’s 2010 swing and his 2024 swing was his pelvis has started to move towards the target line. This is potentially a product of his lower body not pushing against the ground as effectively as he could.  

HOW (timing and direction) we teach a golfer to push can be just as important as HOW HARD they are pushing. 

One of the key kinetic variables we consider in a force analysis is called anterior-posterior force (or heel-toe force).  Think of a golfer pushing frictionally against the ground, towards the target line.

Sometimes modern instruction has the tendency to coach this athleticism out of the swing.  Our lower bodies become passive. To combat this, we like to incorporate tools like medicine ball, cueing athletes to use their lower bodies to drive their arms.

Like any sport or activity, the margins for improvement among elite performers become more narrow as the skill improves.  While Jamie is no exception, we were able to identify a few opportunities for improvement by implementing principles that we teach in our advanced courses.

If you are a coach, fitness or medical professional interested in learning more about how to help golfers maximize performance on the course, check out our library of online Level 2 courses and in-person Level 3 seminars

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If you're a golfer interested in a physical assessment, you can connect with a TPI Certified expert via our Find an Expert page




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