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Tour-winner who gained 15 yards: My 5 pieces of advice for you

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Scott Taetsch/PGA of America

It was almost exactly a year earlier that I saw Stephan Jaeger alone on the range after a Tuesday practice round at the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands, smashing drives into the distance.

Jaeger had just embarked on a speed-boosting program, which involved an amped-up fitness routine with Fit For Golf founder Mike Carroll; speed training range sessions; and some improved mechanics.

Jaeger would gain 15 yards in all, ending the season 39th in SG: Tee-to-Green, up from 184th the season before, and would win early the following season.

I wrote this article off our chat then, and it was by happy coincidence that I met him in exactly the same circumstances on the Tuesday ahead of the Travelers Championship this year.

So how has his perspective changed in the year since? And does he have any advice for the rest of us?

1. Find your game's priorities

It was true for Jaeger that more distance was his quickest path to lower scores. It may be for you, too, but before you go chasing more speed, ask yourself: Is heavy speed training what your game needs?

"As an amateur, it's never bad to gain distance, but most amateurs don't really shoot eighties and nineties because they're short. It's because their short game sucks," he says. "But if you're a kid on the range with hours to spend, then sure. Tee that thing up and try to smash it every time."

2. Don't hold back with your driver

That said, Jaeger says a general rule of thumb is to simply not hold back with your driver. Your driver isn't an accuracy club; it's a distance club. That mindset, in itself, will help you swing faster, and gain distance incrementally.

"If I have a driver on the range or on the golf course, I try to go as hard as I can," he says. "I've said this before, but it actually helped me. I got longer, and my swing got better. My swing got longer and less laid off, so I hit the ball straighter."

3. No, you're not maxed out

Before you start thinking about it: No, you're not operating at maximum speed capacity. You're capable of more speed.

"Your body has to learn to move faster. It can already. I didn't get enormously stronger in the gym," Jaeger says. "It just takes a little training, but I learned how to be more explosive. That's what's most important."

4. Integrate speed training into range time

Most of us don't have the time or, frankly, the energy for a 100 ball, sweat-drilling speed training session. The good news is that you don't need to. Jaeger's advice is to just reserve a few golf balls at the end of each range session. Don't worry about direction; just distance.

"Take 10 balls that you would hit with your driver in warmup and go all-out," he says. "That's it. That's your session. That will help."

5. Power-Maintenance mode

Jaeger went all-in on his quest for more speed—and it worked. Now, he's in speed maintenance mode, a different gear that every golfer should learn, and know when to shift into.

"I'm not saying over the next year or two I won't gain another mile per hour or two," Jaeger says. "But I don't do as many full sessions anymore because I accomplished what I wanted to. My body feels good. I'm really happy with my game."