The numbers clearly show that US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick has changed his swing speed over the past few years. In 2019, his measured speed on the PGA Tour was 112.78 miles per hour, ranking him 117th on the tour. His driving average of 287.9 yards did not put him in the top 150. Less than three years later, his average swing speed has increased nearly 4 miles per hour, ranking him 71st, and his 320-yard percentage tripled to 15.22. .
At his US Open winner’s press conference, Fitzpatrick attributed the increase to his commitment to a training program involving The Stack System, a weighted club that uses a collection of weights developed by a professor of human kinetics. and former Canadian volleyball champion and triple jumper. .
Sasho Mackenzie, who holds a doctorate in kinesiology from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, has become known in golf circles as one of the game’s greatest biomechanics and even “the savant of speed.” . Mackenzie has spent the past two decades trying to understand movement speed and efficiency in many sports, but his work in golf has begun to shape thinking in everything from training to shaft design. . Despite the mountains of academic research in his resume, however, it is his Stack system that is easily his most notable contribution to golf’s current diegesis.
The $350 training aid also finds itself, thanks to Fitzpatrick’s triumph, sold out through August and seems to be ordered as quickly as Boston Cream at Tim Horton’s.
The Stack, as Mackenzie explains in an introductory video, is “a variable inertia speed drive system.” Don’t let these words scare you. Basically, it is a golf club shaft the length of a typical hybrid and a grip with a series of weights that are attached to the “club head” end. These weights are alternated during a workout. A typical session is 24 swings with alternating weights every eight swings of perhaps 30 grams or more. The idea is what’s called an ‘overload’ or ‘overspeed’ workout, where you combine swinging something slightly heavier or slightly lighter and continuously moving it slightly faster to stimulate improvement.
A training regimen can last 18 sessions, with each session coming every day or two. The system app pairs with a separate radar device used to read swing speed (without hitting a ball). Examples are made by Garmin, PRGR, Voice Caddy and others.
Weights manipulate the Stack System “club” to alter its total mass, center of gravity, and moment of inertia by placing heavier or lighter weight toward the tip or “clubhead” end of the shaft.
Catching up with a proud Mackenzie on Monday, he said Fitzpatrick, who has tracked every shot he hit for much of his golf career, could have been the perfect test subject for the Stack’s advantages. “He loved the app because every swing he’s ever taken with the Stack system he can go and watch because he’s in there,” Mackenzie said. “It totally appealed to his personality.”
But the US Open champion was also ideal because the Stack system doesn’t require massive swing or body changes. For the most part, Fitzpatrick’s swing isn’t radically different from the one that won him the US Amateur nine years ago at age 18.
“I was convinced he had the swing that could swing him at 120 if we could just slightly change his body’s ability to move him faster,” Mackenzie said. “He has really unique biomechanics. A very strong hand and a very weak hand on the hilt, nuances that I didn’t think were worth discussing.
The fun part of the Stack System is that it uses artificial intelligence to develop a program for your specific abilities and swing. In other words, a 65-year-old man might need a different set of weights to activate and improve his biomechanics than a 27-year-old circuit pro. A baseline test with different weight setups determines what your potential is and how to get there. Additionally, the app learns your ability to perform training sets and recover, and also predicts your distance potential and adjusts as you progress. The weight system represents 30 different weight combinations.
“It covers a much wider range of load capacities,” Mackenzie said. “Because you have to be able to adapt to the individual and within that individual you have to be able to get them to apply the appropriate pacing force and torque which is slightly higher than the pilot but also in the session next, make them swing a certain percentage faster.
For the past two years, Fitzpatrick has been extremely rigorous in his training, taking a few breaks due to injury.
“It improved my drive, not just lengthwise, but overall, everything,” Fitzpatrick said Sunday night as the only player to drive the green on the 305-yard par-4 fifth hole in the round. final. “As I’ve been tough from the start this year, I’ve noticed an even bigger jump without really feeling like I’m going after that.”
That’s what’s telling about The Stack, at least as far as Fitzpatrick is concerned. Unlike previous speed trainers like Bryson DeChambeau, Fitzpatrick’s improvement didn’t involve a massive body transformation or a complete swing change. In fact, if you look at Fitzpatrick’s swing at the 2013 US Amateur and compare it to the swing that just won the US Open, the overall feel and signature move seems similar. It’s just faster and the ball, of course, goes further.
The key to the system is patience, said Mackenzie, who learned from training in track and field for the Olympics that work lays the groundwork for improvement at a later date, but not necessarily in a linear fashion. Increases may come early, but they may not come at the same rate every month.
“You add an underlying improvement in fitness, but it might not show,” he said. “But the job has been done. You swing well and maybe take a few days off, then boom, there’s 2 miles per hour, then maybe a month later you see another 2 miles per hour. And then a few months pass and you may be wondering if it’s working, but you have to stick with it. You get to work early and the results show slowly.
Just like its most famous user saw on Sunday afternoon at the US Open.