OAKMONT, Pa. — Preston Summerhays has the look of an elite golfer. Tall, athletic, and decked out in a congruent Nike outfit, the 19-year-old could walk onto the range at a PGA Tour event, and no one would look twice.
He swings like a he belongs in the pros, too.
Summerhays is wide and balanced as he takes the club back, getting slightly taller in his posture as he approaches the top of the swing. Once there, he pauses ever so slightly — if you blink, you’ll miss it. But it’s what happens next that’s the difference maker.
As he begins the transition, he squats slightly and his knees widen, gathering energy for the final act, preparing to send the clubhead exploding through the back of the ball. Summerhays then pushes off the ground with all the strength his legs can muster, jumping in the air as he smashes the ball over 300 yards into the distance.
“My body found out that to get that power, I dip a little bit and then use the ground really well,” Summerhays said after his second-round 76 at the U.S. Amateur. “It just naturally happened when trying to swing fast.”
Golf nerds call it “ground reaction forces,” and it’s a surefire way to generate clubhead speed.
But Summerhays’ swing wasn’t always oozing with power. Just three years ago, his clubhead speed sat at a lethargic 103 mph. Now, he lashes the club at 122 mph — pro-level speed. The secret to this massive jump? Simple speed training advice from his father (and GOLF Top 100 Teacher) Boyd Summerhays.
“Go swing as hard as you freaking can,” Boyd told him. “It’s as simple as that.”
After a disappointing and premature exit from the 2018 U.S. Amateur, Summerhays searched for answers on how to take his game to the next level. Qualifying for the U.S. Amateur as a 16-year-old is quite the feat, but in a family that lives and breathes golf, his aspirations sit higher than participation trophies.
“He missed match play by maybe three shots, and he was so bummed,” Boyd said. “I told him he didn’t play terrible, he just didn’t have enough ball speed and clubhead speed to get out of the rough and spin it.”
The following winter, Summerhays made it his mission to gain as much speed as he could. His training regimen was simple: for three 30-minute sessions per week, he went to the range and swung as hard as he could.
The work paid off. In the championship match of the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur, he needed every bit of that extra speed to close out his championship run.
With his ball buried deep in the rough on the 35th hole and Summerhays clinging to a tenuous 1-up lead, he grabbed a pitching wedge from 174 yards and took a mighty lash. The ball ducked under one tree and elevated over another, eventually settling eight feet from the cup on the distant green. The shot clinched the prestigious crown.
“He couldn’t have hit that shot the year before,” Boyd said. “He had to swing so hard, but he finally had the clubhead speed to do it.”
The success didn’t stop there. Summerhays competed in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship last summer, and later teed it up at Winged Foot for the U.S. Open. He made history as the youngest winner of the Sunnehanna Amateur and also advanced to the quarterfinals of this year’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.
After a two-round total of 142 at Oakmont Country Club and Longue Vue Club this week, he will advance to match play at the U.S. Amateur for the first time.
None of it would be possible without the massive jump in clubhead speed.
“It’s way easier power,” Boyd said. “Now he can control it.”
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