Showing posts with label david lee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label david lee. Show all posts

70 Year Old Gravity Golf Founder Hits 75 3-Irons 185 Days In a Row

Why Is This 3 Iron In My Bag?

by David Lee

Teaching golf has not only been my profession for the better part of fifty years, it is also a vocational passion.  Any time since 1954, if someone had asked me which clubs were the most important in the bag, I would have quickly answered the driver, the putter, the sand wedge, the three wood, then all the rest, in that order.  If someone asked me the same question today – I would without hesitation answer – the #3 iron.  Really????  Yep, even though very few people carry one these days, in my opinion, they should dig it out of the closet, or buy one that matches their irons (I promise that this is leading someplace good where few people have ever been).  Next, go to the practice tee for only twenty minutes a day, and hit 75 balls, as hard as you can swing, from your normal swing mode.

Okay David – you’ve always been out there in left field somewhere, but this is a little far off the page, even for you!

I totally agree – but hear me out.  About seven years ago, I managed to trip over my big red dog one night in the pitch black dark and tear the medial meniscus in my left knee.  It has never been quite the same since.  Then last year, right before moving back to Florida, I managed to tear the medial collateral tendon in my right knee, which stopped me from playing golf for about five months.  Even after I healed, every time I would try to play or even swing the club, there was a significant ache, either in my lower back or one of my knees.  At seventy years of age, my range of motion in my backswing had shrunk to practically nothing, and needless to say, I was not having any fun. It felt like the right time to put my clubs in the closet or on Ebay.  Then a large miracle happened!  One day just over six months ago, totally exasperated with the way my body was feeling, and with a sense of desperation hanging over me, I grabbed my 3 iron from my bag and headed for the practice tee.  In retrospect, I’m not exactly sure what I intended to accomplish, but it was something along the lines of punishing myself for getting old.  I took a basket of 75 balls (75 was a totally arbitrary number, but 50 seemed like too few and 100, too many) and began swinging at them with all the core-speed I could muster.  That first day I hit about five solid shots, and all seventy-five of them hurt, in one part of my body or another!  It was like the scene in the movie Liar Liar where Jim Carrey was in the men’s room at the courthouse “kicking his own ass.”  For some weird reason, the pain of day one notwithstanding, I was obsessed with doing it again and came back the following day to torture myself some more.  The second day I hit a few more good ones, but was encouraged, and each successive day saw the number of good shots grow.  For the first sixty days, the improvement each day was very noticeable.  By that time, I was hitting the ball so well that the progress seemed to slow, yet the shot quality and distance continued to improve.  Today was my 185th session in a row without missing a day, and during each and every week, with no exceptions, I’ve had at least one or more best days ever!  Because of the continued improvement, I’ve delayed in writing about this, because truthfully, I don’t yet know where the “end point” in shot quality development and consistency lie. Here’s the really amazing part and why I am compelled to keep doing this, as well as sharing it with you.  Bear in mind that the only full-swing practice that I’ve done during this period has been the 75 daily balls with the 3 iron, yet when I play golf, every club in my bag has improved significantly, from the driver to the wedges.  Yesterday, I made the second hole-in-one of my life (the last was in 1965) and had two other shots on par threes stop within a foot.
My conclusions thus far are as follows:
    •    Most players go to the practice tee and hit a number of shots with different clubs. Each of the clubs has a different shaft length, a different lie, some variation in vibration frequency, swing weight, and requires a different ball position and spine angle.  Practicing with what is arguably the most difficult club in the bag to hit (since almost no one carries a 1 or 2 iron), allows the brain to avoid the confusion of club variability, and concentrate totally on the sequence of the physiological motor program (which is very demanding if you wish to hit good shots with a 3 iron).  Moving your body parts correctly and consistently is paramount if you wish to know where your ball is going.  A great pianist preparing for a show or recital would not practice on thirteen different pianos, but that is exactly what we do when practicing golf.  If the motor program in your body is good enough to hit consistent shots with a 3 iron, hitting a wedge requires only minute changes and is a snap cinch.  My thinking is leaning very strongly toward the opinion that removing the equipment variable, allows the player to highly improve the quality of his/her mechanics – especially when practicing with the 3 iron (the most difficult club in the bag).
      •    Swinging at maximum core-speed is very important.  There is a right way to hit a golf ball hard, and countless wrong ways.  By practicing at maximum possible swing speed, the brain is forced to deal with countless physiological details that need to be dealt with at a subconscious level, in order to establish perfect equilibrium at impact.  Learning to slow a swing down is far easier than making it go faster (the right way).
      •    If you wish to play at the highest level, it is my belief that doing this every day is very important.  The great Russian pianist Vladimir Horowitz, said that if he missed a day of practice, he could hear it.  If he missed two days of practice, his wife could hear it.  And, if he missed three days of practice, the world could hear it.  Ben Hogan said that if he missed a day of practice, his golf swing backed up three days.  I fully realize that not everyone can hit 75 balls a day, but remember that it only takes twenty minutes.
Please keep in mind that this is a “road map,” not an order.  Many people out there are interested in becoming as good as they can be.  This is something I have never seen another golf professional do, nor have I done it in my own personal history (although I wish I had).  Although Tom Watson is said to have warmed up with a 2 iron, I don’t know that he hit it exclusively in his practice sessions, nor do I know how many 2 irons he hit each day.   Most pros that have worn a spot the size of a dime in the middle of their seven-iron, have a three iron that looks like it just came out of the pro shop.  I am telling you that doing this every day is making me feel as if my age is reversing, and my golf game is improving faster than at any point in my life.  If you are inclined to give this a try, I am inviting feedback and the experience of others.    
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Golf Lesson: Getting Out of Deep Rough

Bermuda Rough – Nasty Stuff
by David Lee

Anyone who has played much golf in the South, is well aware of the difficulty encountered when playing from the Bermuda rough. It’s a natural instinct to hit down hard and try to dig the ball out of such gnarly turf. Most players fail to realize that tightening the arms in an effort to extricate the ball, will stop the core rotation of the body and make it even harder to get out. A tension increase from the arms in the downswing actually diminishes the number of foot pounds that are actively turning and going against the ball at the point of impact. It’s important to feel that the body turns the ball out of deep rough as opposed to hitting it. Although it is counter intuitive to not dig, doing so has an exact opposite effect from what we were intending to do.

When hitting these types of shots, it’s critical that the arms be in a state of pure deadfall at the start of the downswing so that the rotation of the body is not impeded whatsoever. You can actually hit very delicate shots from deep rough around the greens with very little effort - if your technique is technically correct. Remember, when the ball is sitting deep in the grass, the clubface contacts the grass and not the back of the ball. Because of this fact, ball compression is reduced, just as it is with a greenside bunker shot. Both shots require extra follow through to make up for the fact that the ball is not “helping” due to its lesser amount of spring from the clubface. Turning the connected body mass completely through the impact zone assures that the ball will advance. Don’t forget – the key is to turn the ball out of the deep stuff, not hit it.

Here is a video example of this lesson. 
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The Benefits of One-Handed Golf Drills

Since the new U.S. Open champion, Martin Kaymer, was shown on the Golf Channel practicing one-handed drills – and because we at Gravity Golf use them as a fundamental exercise, I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss them in further detail.
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Using Popcorn to Get Effortless Power - by David Lee, Golf Pro in Greenville SC.

As the developer of the “Gravity” golf teaching system, I am a great believer that the laws of motion are very specific, in regard to the “ideal” way to swing a golf club. However, knowing that not everyone swings in what, I consider to be an ideal, “physics compliant” fashion, I racked my brain to think of a great tip that would be applicable to all golfers, regardless of their swing style. The following is one of the better ideas that I can offer:

Many golfers swing smoothly in their practice swings, yet in the real swing, with the ball in the equation, they invariably “flex” the upper body in the downswing trying to “strike” it. You’d swear they were swinging at a bowling ball! Tightening the arms and wrists in the downswing may easily cause a reduction in club-speed and a reduction in the amount of body mass that is moving at impact (any of your pounds that are not turning at the instant you strike the ball, are not having an effect on it. Tightening the arms and wrists in the downswing also causes change in the swing-path and off-center shots

When you watch Freddie Couples swing, he just drops his arms from the top of the backswing and allows his core rotation to sling them. My tip is to always, visualize the ball as being “weightless,” like a piece of popcorn. You should take some popcorn to the practice tee and alternate between hitting golf balls and pieces of the popcorn. The birds will eat what you don’t pick up and popcorn doesn’t harm the mowers like tees or pennies. You should begin to visualize the ball as having no more weight than the popcorn. The reason you won’t flex at the popcorn is because your brain knows that even if you hit it dead flush it will only go three feet anyway. Trying to move the golf ball a great distance is what makes people instinctively flex at it. When you stop “flexing,” - your club-speed and swing-path integrity will improve dramatically, - and you’ll begin to hit the ball “flush” in the middle of the clubface. 

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The Gravity Grip By David Lee, Top 100 Teacher in Orlando Florida

How Important Is Your Grip?

Of all the components that make up a golf swing, few are more important than the grip.  In order for the wrists to release properly through impact, so that control and speed can be maximized, it is important that the hands be placed onto the club properly.  As a general rule, the V’s of both hands, formed by the thumbs and palms when the grip is taken, should point toward the right shoulder (right-handed player).  The club should be gripped in the fingers and not in the palms of the hands. 

As the grip is taken and the club laid across the curved fingers, the palms of the hands should stretch slightly from the fingers before the hands are closed.  Stretching the hands as the grip is taken, causes the club to be bound within the grip when the hands are closed, and the club can be held very securely without having to squeeze the grip.  This allows for total freedom in the release of the wrists through impact.  If the club is held properly, the pronation of the club-head through impact is automatic and never needs to be forced to square the club-face.

All this having been said, and with many subtle details omitted, I must tell you that when I work with a beginning student, if he/she has no glaring grip issues, I initially concentrate more on footwork and body dynamics.  A player can have a perfect grip, yet if the footwork and movements of the core are not correct, there is little chance that the golfer will strike the ball solidly.  Once the swing itself is functioning correctly, the harder the ball is struck, the more important that the grip becomes.  The hands are so sensitive, that an untrained player has great difficulty concentrating on proper body movement if the grip is being constantly manipulated.  In other words – he can’t get his mind off the grip and onto more important things.

In my opinion, the best way to develop a proper grip is to practice the “Gravity Golf” three-mode drills.  The brain will quickly figure out how to hold the club properly in order to hit solid shots in the right and left hand modes.  Once each hand is trained to hold the club correctly, they will function as a single unit when put together in a normal two-hand mode.  Study this drill and you will develop a great grip! 

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Swing Compensations: What Are They And Why Should They Be Eliminated - by David Lee

Why do you suppose that most players develop to a certain level, then seem to hit a brick wall in their ability to improve? This problematic issue occurs not only with amateurs, but with professional players as well.

In the forty-eight years that I’ve been teaching golf (for twenty of those years I was just trying to teach it), it has been a rarity to see a beginning player who did not start the down-swing with a “kill” concept. With few exceptions, players instinctively draw the club back and “hunt” the ball with the arms and club like they were trying to drive a nail with a hammer over three feet long. When the golf swing is approached with such a misguided concept for creating power in the swing, this is what occurs. As the shoulders and arms “flex” in the down-swing, part of the energy serves to move the ball, but simultaneously, part of it goes back into the body and causes the path to move. The path (or plane) moves to the outside or “over the top,” which will pull or hook the ball, and causes the player to make corrective or “compensating” steps to try and hit the ball on line to the target. A right-handed player (opposite for lefties) can compensate a changing plane and attempt to eliminate the pull by aligning the body to the right, by weakening the grip, by moving the ball back in the stance, or by making postural or equipment changes. All of these compensations can be made independently, or utilized simultaneously. The more energy, however, that is turned back into the body during the execution of the swing, the harder it is to repeat the swing and get consistency in your results. Most golfers make their compensations intentionally, but oftentimes they are made at a subconscious level and the player is totally unaware that he/she is compensating.

As we go from the practice tee to the golf course, especially in tournament situations, body tension increases. As the body tightens (for whatever reason), the center of leverage rises. As this occurs, any energy that is being internalized through improper power application, causes an increase in path-shift over what we experience when we are relaxed. This is exactly why it is so important to eliminate compensations and identify proper power technique, which can be accomplished by training with the Gravity golf drills. Study them – they are the “road map” to a technically perfect swing.     
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The Secret of Taking Your Range Game To the Course

Mastering Golf by David Lee

Most players, when they go to the practice range, hit ball after ball from a normal swing mode.  The normal swing is the easiest of all modes from which to “compensate” imperfect power application.  Compensations are insidious attempts to correct an improperly shifting swing-plane, and most often occur at a completely subconscious level.  The player can be making compensations for mis-applied power through the grip, alignment, ball position, posture, or even through equipment, and be totally un-aware that he is doing so.  Compensations not only make the swing unreliable, it becomes harder to repeat under pressure.  On the practice tee, we get as many opportunities as we have golf balls to find the proper timing, but on the golf course we get only one chance per shot.  The best way to get your game successfully from the practice tee to the course, is by learning to practice perfectly, so that you know exactly how to swing with correct power application every time you draw it back.

The next time you go to the practice tee, start with a middle iron, like a 5, 6, or 7.  Hit a full-swing shot with the right hand, then one with the left hand, and then one with both hands.  It is very important to change modes with each swing.  If you can draw the ball with each hand alone, as well as with the two-handed mode, it is an indicator that your swing is tension-free.  Changing modes with each shot prevents the brain from “dialing in” compensations from what it felt in the previous swing.  Putting a different muscle group into activity with each pass, forces the brain to identify proper sequencing in every mode and will teach you perfect mechanics that will work reliably when you go to the golf course.

Try this – it really works!!
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The “Counter-fall" and the critical role it plays in your swing

Mastering Golf - by David Lee

If you swing “over the top” and slice the ball, or your shots take too much effort to produce too little distance, you are not “counter-falling” sufficiently at the start of your down-swing.  The arms of the average man weigh about twenty-five pounds.  If you are solidly balanced on your feet when the down-swing begins, the weight of your arms and club swinging in front of you, will instantly pull you toward your toes (over the top) and out of plane, kind of like a washing machine with all the clothes on one side of it.  Most golfers are under the false impression that they want to be balanced during a golf-swing. What we are really searching for, is a state of “rotary equilibrium,” where the pull against the body from the weight of the arms and club swinging around us, is negated by the counter-fall, thus giving the appearance of being “balanced” during the swing.  Look at You-Tube sequences of a hammer thrower.  Because of the significant weight of the arms and hammer, he has to pivot with his body being close to forty degrees “off vertical” to keep from being pulled onto his face during the rotation.  A golf swing is a microcosm of the same move.  All sports where rotation is employed require a counter-fall in order to maintain equilibrium.

In a proper golf swing made by a right-handed player, the weight shifts to the right leg and back to the left leg as the shoulders turn back.  As the weight shifts from the right, it lands slightly against the left leg, enough to deflect the body into the counter-fall, on a line or vector about seventy degrees left of the target line, ninety degrees being straight behind you.  The feeling is like that of tipping a barrel onto its edge so that it will roll.  The deeper one moves into the counter-fall before the shoulders start forwards in the delivery, the less internal effort it takes to turn the core through impact (if the arms are in a state of dead-fall), and the faster it will move.  Using mass rotation to sling the arms and club, instead of using shoulder and arm strength, is the proper way to apply power in the golf swing.

Study the Gravity Golf cross-footed drills and they will teach you to make a perfect counter-fall.

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How Can Softer Arms Create More Power? - Mastering Golf - by David Lee

How Softer Arms Can Create More Power

Sadly, for golfers all over the world, almost everyone begins by swinging the golf club incorrectly.  The instinct that most players have when they start the down-swing is to flex the shoulders and arms in an attempt to strike the ball.

When a player tightens his or her arms in the down-swing in an effort to create power, it normally has a negative effect on core-speed and distance because most individuals do it too early.  Players that use counter-fall and core mass rotation to “sling” their arms, usually create more power than tight-armed players, and do it with far less effort.

At the completion of the back-swing, if the counter-fall goes deep enough, and the arms start down in a state of total dead-fall, a very gentle turn will create great speed in the arms.  There is a “symbiotic” relationship between the counter-fall depth and the falling arms that allow power to be enabled instead of forced.  Most players never feel how easily this can be achieved because they have flexed their arms and shoulders at the start of the down-swing in every swing they have ever made, and instantly kill the body’s ability to sling the arms with minimal effort.

The best way to develop sensitivity to the impropriety of flexing the shoulders and arms at the start of the down-swing, is to practice the Gravity golf cross-footed, one-armed drills.  It becomes instantly apparent that flexing is not the answer, and you begin to feel how to use counter-fall and mass rotation for power.  Most players, once they know how to apply power correctly, will use no more than one-half their former effort, to move the ball significantly farther.
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Mastering Golf by David Lee - Flying Right Elbow: Friend or Foe?

Unfortunately, for the golf world, when Jack Nicklaus appeared on the golf scene, he did a less than adequate job of explaining “why” he let his right elbow “fly” during his back-swing. Ben Hogan had kept his right elbow tucked during his back-swing, and had successfully convinced the world that he had perfect mechanics. When Jack came along a few years later, with a totally different routing in the right arm, it was perceived by many as a flaw in his technique. No one considered the possibility that Jack was the one swinging the club in total compliance with the physics laws and that Hogan’s technique should have been the one in question. Hogan’s book “The Fundamentals of Modern Golf” had become the “bible” of golf instruction, and wasn’t going to be changed without a good explanation for doing something different.

In a proper golf swing, the right elbow leads in the back-swing, lays into the “slot” during the change of direction, and leads the forearm, hand, and club through impact. The more width that is in the right shoulder joint throughout the back-swing and the change of direction, the easier it is for the body’s core to connect to the arms and sling them through impact. If there is insufficient width in the right shoulder joint through the change of direction, the brain will sense “slack” in that joint and involuntarily cause the shoulders and arms to tighten as they start down, in an effort to cover the slack. When this occurs, core-speed through impact can be diminished and the swing path can easily be disrupted. Women who play with too little arc width will have very limited power.

Learning how to route the right arm (or left if you’re a southpaw) correctly, is one of the most important keys to easy power and control in your golf swing. Study the Gravity Golf one-arm drills. They are critical for the development of a technically perfect swing.  
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Mastering Golf - by David Lee

How’s Your Heave?
Hint: It Is the Move of Champion Players

After the grip is taken and proper posture assumed at the address position (both very important), the swing is ready to begin. The term “take-away” connotes that the swing is started with the arms and hands. However, in the modern or “Gravity” swing as we call it, the swing is set into motion with the body’s core using a consortium of muscle groups including the obliques and pectorals, as well as the back and shoulder muscles. Even the feet and hips participate to a degree. We call the move a “heave,” and it is akin to the move you would use to throw a medicine ball.

At the start of the back-swing, the shoulders, arms and wrists are firmed-up so that the swing will begin with the appearance of being “one piece,” even though it is anything but. The heave is powerful, yet lasts for no more than one-foot of arm travel. There is enough power, however, in that one foot, to carry both the arms and club to the completion of the back-swing, with no additional lift required. At the end of the heave, the arms and wrists relax, but the momentum from the initial movement holds the arms and club in-plane, as well as extended, throughout the remainder of the back-swing.

The heave has three very important jobs in the swing. First, it establishes the plane in which the club goes back. Second, it clears the tension from the arms so that they will “dead-fall” at the start of the down-swing. Third, it provides the power for the core rotation that carries the body into the all-important counter-fall.

Jack Nicklaus says in his book that he knows whether or not he will hit the ball perfectly by the time the club has moved one-foot into the back-swing. That comment means that for him, the entire recipe for a perfect swing is essentially over by that point. If the first domino in a line doesn’t fall properly, neither will the rest of them.

The best way to practice the heave is from a cross-footed, normal back-swing mode.
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