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Smart Golf: Use Gravity in your Swing

SWING: Let Gravity Do the Work
How to use Mother Nature to groove your swing
By Harry Hurt III

Golf is all about defying gravity. We typically begin each hole by placing the ball on a tee to help launch it into the sky. The faces of all our clubs are made with specified degrees of loft to aid our efforts to get the ball airborne. Most teaching pros advise us to defy gravity by hitting down on the ball to make it fly upward. The only place gravity seems to be our friend is on the green, where we hope it will pull our putts inexorably downward into the cup.

David Lee, the "gravity golf" guru, says we've got it backward. A veteran Golf Magazine Top-100 teaching pro based in Arkansas, the iconoclastic Lee believes that it's folly to defy gravity in the motions we make to get balls airborne. Instead, he teaches students to harness Mother Nature, producing seemingly effortless golf swings based on subtle components Lee identified in the swings of such outstanding ball strikers as Fred Couples, Lee Trevino and the young Jack Nicklaus.

"Most conventional golf swings rely on muscle power to hit the ball," Lee says. "A gravity player uses gravity and mass rotation instead of just strength."

Lee calls his gravity golf system a paradigm shift away from traditional instruction. Like gravity itself, that can be a plus or a minus depending on how you approach it. The good news is that you don't need to adopt the entire gravity golf system to make dramatic improvements in your swing. Although Lee's approach may be unconventional, he offers a wide assortment of drills that address such age-old issues as tempo, timing and tension.

Lee's drills aim to improve your swing mechanics through your subconscious mind. Unlike most traditional drills, his are meant to be the core of your practice routine, not merely an adjunct to it. In fact, Lee recommends hitting at least eighty out of every 100 practice balls in drill mode. The same percentage holds for your warm-up routine. Rather than hitting one ball every thirty seconds, Lee advises you to begin by hitting at least four or five balls in rapid succession, with only a few seconds between shots, and work up to ten balls or more. Soon you'll stop thinking your way through the drills; ultimately, you'll stop thinking your way through your swing.

To reap maximum benefit from the drills, you need a basic understanding of how Lee's system is both similar to traditional methods and radically different. In essence, the gravity swing is a torso-powered "whip sling" as opposed to a "hit" powered by arm or leg muscles. According to Lee, Fred Couples doesn't "hit" the ball; instead he "throws" it in a smooth, looping motion comparable to a discus or hammer throw in track and field.

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