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Smart Golf: Use Gravity in your Swing

The take-away of a gravity swing begins with what Lee calls a "heave," driven by the core muscles of your torso and shoulders. About eighteen inches into the take-away comes the so-called "first release," where the arms and club rise on momentum alone. Along the way, you keep your right elbow leading and raised À la Couples and the young Nicklaus, rather than folding it into your body. (All directions pertain to right-handed players; lefties can substitute "left" for "right.") This "flying elbow" is what allows you to attain maximum arc height at the top of your backswing.

Now gravity takes control in a three-part sequence. First, gravity and the resistance of a properly angled right leg shift your weight from your right side back to your left side. As your weight falls onto your left heel, your body deflects away from the ball on a vector about seventy degrees left of your target line. This is what Lee calls the "counterfall," an action similar to a water-skier's leaning backward to counter the pull of the towrope.

The counterfall is what produces the sensation of an "effortless" swing motion by setting the mass of your body into rotation. It also keeps the swing on plane by offsetting the downward, forward and outward moving weights of the club and your arms. Rather than hitting at the ball with your hands and arms, you allow them to go into a gravity-assisted "free fall." As your flying right elbow folds into the optimum-delivery "slot," you power your swing by rotating your left hip and torso through impact.

Players who are accustomed to trying to kill the ball will probably find gravity golf drills difficult at first. But the aim of these drills is to eliminate the still-more-awkward "lift," "chop" and "hit" moves from your swing, replacing them with tension-free moves that rely on the timing and force of your body turn. In the final analysis, says Lee, it's better to work with Mother Nature's most fundamental force than to struggle against it.

David Lee's weight-transfer drill, which incorporates the footwork of a baseball swing, is designed to improve tempo and timing, as well as to reduce muscle tension. Over the years, variations on it have been adopted by several other top teachers.

Start by placing your feet together with the ball positioned in the middle of your stance. Now move your right foot to the right, roughly shoulder width from your left foot. As you "heave" your arms and club up and back with your core muscles, lift your left foot off the ground and swing it toward your right ankle. Then, as you complete your shoulder turn at the top of your backswing, plant your left foot like a baseball player stepping forward to swing at an oncoming pitch. Rotate your left hip and torso. With practice, your drill-mode shots will eventually carry at least as far as your normal shots.


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