Book Review: Gravity Golf (1994)

The evolution and revolution of golf instruction
by David Lee

Gravity GolfMy golf experience is amateur and began relatively late in life, at the age of 44 in 1993. I’ve been a fairly decent athlete, lettering in baseball in high school as a pitcher. Both my parents have good hand-eye coordination, my dad was a pilot in WW2 and had exceptional psychomotor skills. When I was a kid, he played golf occasionally—and coached my little league baseball teams—and the one saying he repeated to me incessantly was, “More technique than muscle, son… never force things.”

David Lee is only five years my senior (4/1/44 and I was born in 1949), but his emphasis on technique over “violence,” as he calls it, makes David Lee seem like he’s offering up the eternal wisdom of my old man.

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The Essence of the Swing

When you get right down to it, Gravity Golf represents the fundamental discovery about the mechanics of the golf swing. I say discovery, because the essence of the perfect golf swing—just as the essence of the perfect hammer throw or any motion of an object thrown or swung by the human body—is dictated by physics. David Lee happens to be the individual who figured out the physics… which, depending on how you look at it, is his curse or his blessing. In any case, David Lee will go down in history as the man who was persistent enough to noodle out what it was that enabled Jack Nicklaus to drive a golf ball prodigious distances and consistently beat his fellow competitors in all areas of the game—and enable average persons to play at a par level within a year to 18 months of ‘correct’ physical drills.

In this revolutionary approach to golf instruction and learning, you will be offered profound scientific evidence that the game has been taught 180 degrees from the most ideal way since the inception of the sport. What’s more you’ll discover that the great natural forces, which Jack and a handful of others have been fortunate enough to ‘stumble’ across and harness, also exist within your own body… Once you unlock those forces through understanding some correct practice, they will serve you faithfully throughout the remainder of your golf life. — p 21

The bold statement that “the game has been taught 180 degrees from the ideal from the beginning” is practically guaranteed to make the average modern professional and teaching professional averse to the message. The strength of David Lee is he doesn’t pull any punches, he tells his truth knowing full well the vast forces that will disparage him. And it’s hard to imagine forces much vaster than today’s world of Golf of the Corporate Drones. Fortunately, Lee does have a few friends among the celebrities, including Jack Nicklaus who has complimented the Gravity Golf system, but remains at a distance in terms of being a disciple.

Not to give the core idea away, but what Lee discovered is the perfect golf swing for any individual is the one that produces maximum power for minimum energy. It feels like ‘effortless power,’ which is the common testimony from any golfer on when his swing works: “I don’t feel anything.” If one conceives of the ideal golf swing as a hammer throw in a different plane, then you’ll imagine the essence of the discovery. Just as in the hammer throw the body must balance the revolving weight at the end of the arms by leaning back, there must be a ‘counterfall’ in the ideal golf swing: an almost imperceptible ‘fall’ up and toward the rear by the upper body in response to the freefalling, free-‘wheeling’ arm-and-club assembly.

In the book Gravity Golf Lee only reluctantly goes into descriptive detail on the mechanics of the Gravity Golf swing (it’s the majority of Chapter 5). I say reluctantly because, as all great teachers, he realizes that one does not create the ideal swing, or any other complex motion, through conceptual understanding of and direction by the cerebral cortex. Still Chapter 5 is extremely important, because humans are conceptual beings and it explains—extremely well—what happens in your perfect swing. The process of acquiring that swing is what matters, and Mr. Lee has put a lot of thought and energy into developing drills to groove the perfect motion.

The drills have one thing in common, they remove a boundary condition from the swing that disguises a balance requirement for the ideal swing. For example, if the player typically flexes (applies force in) his arms to generate the downswing, the equal and opposite forces needed to balance his flexing can be compensated for through the normal stance… his ideal swing plane is simply corrupted, producing a poor shot. But, say, if you have the player stand on one foot, if he applies those same swing-plane corrupting forces, the player will fall down—he lacks the support to compensate for the forces. The primary instruction technology for Gravity Golf is performance of balance-envelope affecting swings that physically require the correct mechanics. That’s it. “Do and you understand.”

Gravity Golf, Gravity Life

The book and DVD, pictured above, are effective in laying out the plausibility of the Gravity Golf concepts. I fully ‘get it’ at an intellectual level, mainly because rightly or wrongly my mind works like David Lee’s in having this incessant curiosity about how something as widely done poorly can be fixed. Lee played on the PGA Tour in the early 1970s until sidelined by a wrist injury; it took him several years of analysis, inquiry, and trial-and-error after his pro career to make the key discoveries of his system. And to realize that, more than perhaps any complex motion, the proper golf swing can only be learned by doing—and by doing without ‘cheating’ the laws of physics and gravity. His Gravity Golf Website is full of additional worthwhile material, and I highly recommend it.

Where I am these days in the play of golf is not having the time to spend on the Gravity Golf drills to achieve the success it promises. Even so, having read the book and viewed the DVD, I have come to feel some of the proper swing parts. My distance and direction have improved, and I have eliminated a large amount of violence in the swing, which has led to a lot less pain and stress in my lower back. Yes, my results have improved, but until I properly do the drills over a few months time, I won’t become consistent. There’s an intangible, spiritual quality to Gravity Golf that fits the name: playing golf this way, from the center, makes you feel rested and connected, provides a joy to a round that says this is how life is meant to be.

I have a natural affinity for the person of David Lee, and can listen to him, in that Arkansas drawl, talk about the principles of sound golf all day long. A priority of mine will be to attend one of his golf schools at the Black Diamond Ranch Golf Club in Florida. I’m sure it will accelerate the process of grooving my authentic swing, and I cannot wait to meet him in person. Part of the kinship has to do with each of us creating a Grand Idea that goes against conventional wisdom, but which stands to solve some deep problems for people. [My idea is Beism and the ‘Church’ of Being, an outgrowth of the Sacred Nonaggression Principle. And like Gravity Golf, it hasn’t swept the world, but it has the long-range potential for doing so.] In my humble opinion, within a decade or two, David Lee and his system will be singularly responsible for lowering the average amateur golf score 5-10 strokes.

Let me conclude by noting that the materials lack a regimen one comes to expect from modern ‘systems’ of teaching, but the lack of sophisticated tools and processes—or promotional glitz—may actually be a plus. The Drills’re the Thing… and the personal passion of their creator. It’s almost too simple, but you will succeed if you put in the seat time.

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