“Using Gravity” vs Modern “Using The Ground”

I have a simple gif. I created a little less than 2 years ago to demonstrate the role of gravity in the down swing, but I can’t find the posting for which this gif. was created, so let’s just do it here and now.

I’ve been talking about how, when you do things in correct sequence and from the proper position at the top, you can use leverage and then gravity to really power the club through the swing bottom.

Here is a little experiment, if you’re still a little hazy on it:

  • You’ll remember I talked in a previous posting about how gravity in the down swing doesn’t really take hold until you’ve performed the “Drop,” rather at around the “3 O’Clock” position,
  • So, take an iron and hold it using your thumb and forefinger, just to prove to yourself that you aren’t using any wrist action,
  • Then, take the club back and up, and then slowly swing it down and through, again holding it with only the thumb and forefinger

There will actually be two forces at work when the club shaft approaches parallel to the ground or near the “3 O’Clock” position, and one of the them is gravity:

At the point you see above, where I’ve marked the approximate angle of the shaft – here is where you’ll feel gravity taking over to swing the club down and through – and since you aren’t using the 3rd Lever (the wrists) to move that club, what is doing the work?

Of course, the club is already in motion through the action of the 1st and 2nd Levers, but you will notice the club accelerating quite a bit from the near-3 position down and into the bottom.

That, of course, is gravity at work.

The other force of course is centrifugal force you will feel, because the club head wants to drop straight down but the shaft is keeping it from doing so, making it drop in a pendulum arc.

But there you have it – much if not most of the work in the “3 to 9” phase of the down swing is, or should be performed by gravity, aided of course by your 2nd and 3rd Lever action – remember I said that you use gravity and “give it a boost” with the action of the shift and the arm-wrist action.

This is a lot more easily done with proper mechanics:

… than by straining and twisting through the down phase, and sometimes even having your leading foot leave the ground with your gyrations trying to bring the club through impact with improper leverage and improper mechanical action:

The great thing is that, if you set up properly and make a correct back pivot then the proper down swing shift and mechanical action, you will be using Leverage all the way through the down swing, including when Gravity comes in from the 3 to Impact positions!

In other words, Leverage begins the down swing action and you should have leverage all the way through to the “9 O’Clock” position, at which point you see Dunaway just cruising from the 9 to the finish in the post-impact and follow-through.

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12 thoughts on ““Using Gravity” vs Modern “Using The Ground”

  1. Mr. McJohn

    Nicklaus said in his book how halfway down, if you’re swinging hard enough, how the centrifugal force is so great that if you feel like you’re slowing down, you’re probably holding something back.

    I think this is what feels like “gravity”, but might just be centrifugal force at its max point, during which the release begins on the downswing, halfway down.

    I certainly feel this on my swings when I go full out at a shot.

    This might explain why the ball goes straighter the harder I swing.

    What do you think?

    1. D Watts Post author

      I agree and disagree on a couple of points, Mr. McJohn:

      Nicklaus said in his book how halfway down, if you’re swinging hard enough, how the centrifugal force is so great that if you feel like you’re slowing down, you’re probably holding something back…

      I would agree with Nicklaus here, because I actually mention centrifugal force in this posting, and it is certainly a force that you will feel getting to the bottom.

      However this:

      I think this is what feels like “gravity”, but might just be centrifugal force at its max point…

      I would disagree with, because what you feel getting to the “3 O’Clock” position is a downward force when you are swinging slowly or even swinging to stop at 3 O’Clock – that is too early for centrifugal force to be felt as the club hasn’t actually begun to “pendulum swing” from the hands yet.

      So, momentum and gravity will be the only things you will feel at the point where I am explaining gravity kicks in.

      I hope that helps! 🙂

      1. Mr. McJohn

        Thanks for the clarification.

        Certainly Nicklaus was a seriously long hitter. I don’t think you can actually resist centrifugal force if it’s strong enough, at least without hurting yourself in the process.

        A bucket of water being slung around your shoulder is similar, where you have to slow it down forcefully if it’s going fast enough, then you can stop it only once the centrifugal force has quit. Doubt it could cause injury, but it’s still a forceful action to try and slow it down.

        A club going around at 130 mph is really impossible to stop unless you injure yourself. So what Jack said only makes some sense, really only applies to someone who isn’t already accelerating.

        1. D Watts Post author

          Centrifugal force is real, and it is certainly not to be fought against!

          My only disagreement was with your suggestion that the centrifugal force is at its greatest at the 3 O’Clock position – I would say it is at the swing bottom or slightly beyond, when the club head is at maximum acceleration and velocity. But I don’t disagree with anything else you’re saying! 🙂

          1. Mr. McJohn

            Well, it makes sense to me. Your pendulum mention on CF makes perfect sense. Actually, I believe that you’re completely correct. I was going off of my feels, and what feels like acceleration at the 3 oc position is gravity, not CF, but I thought it was the other way around. Thanks for the clarification. I was just going off my feels, but now am understanding the feel aspect isn’t always exactly what actually occurs.

            As you said, the swing moves down, not forward.

            It’s coming together slowly for me, but certainly is making more sense.

            Thanks for clarifying.

  2. D.L. Moriarty

    I noticed that when Im just swinging a club (typically in the backyard hitting pinecones when I have the dog out) I tend to be looser. I always envision Fred Couples setting up, keeping the legs straighter and trying to use that freewheeling release he gets. I don’t know if pinecones are a good indicator of ball flight or distance, but they sure do go zipping into the air when I’m using that as my template. Now, I don’t do all the silly things Freddy does in his swing, but thinking of the release and gravity the way it looks to me when I watch him swing certainly does help I think. I’m working to get some video of the swing in action, but I’ve been working on the mechanics so much lately that I haven’t had the chance!

  3. D.L. Moriarty

    On another note…
    I was curious to know if you ever watch youtube golfers?
    I have been a fan of the Golfholics channel for a while. One of the two has his brother along often, named Brian. He consistently pounds it past everyone and he appears to have a somewhat MCS style swing, though not from setup. His action has some elements that would qualify, I believe. And if he were to setup properly and let it rip, I imagine he would be playing with far less than 14 clubs!

    1. D Watts Post author

      Hi D.L. – no, I don’t actually watch Youtube golfers. I have only ever been interested in the optimal or what some may call “perfect” technique, and I will look at swings now just to evaluate them for mechanical-soundness.

      Once I look at a swing and determine it is not the standard for “perfect” or optimal action, I have no other reason to look at it. Jack Nicklaus’ swing is still better than any modern golf swinger you’ll see out there, so I don’t see the point. I’ll look at Dunaway’s swing, Nicklaus’ swing, Hogan’s action, but no other swings really interest me.

      I liken it to years of watching and listening to the greatest musicians and composers – once you’ve become used to that high a standard, you won’t get any pleasure watching and listening to talent show singers – the greatest swingers have spoiled me.

      I don’t even watch PGA Tour golf much these days, either. The more I have learned about the swing, the more depressing and annoying it is to watch the swings on TV being praised and called “great,” when they are overwhelmingly anything but!

      1. Mr. McJohn

        Mate, you can always turn the sound off on a TOUR event and just enjoy the quality of shots being played, lol. Of course, after a while, it gets boring because none of the guys on TV really have extraordinary shot making skills. It’s cut and dry, hit driver, wedge, two putt. No shot making abilities there, just bomb and gouge.

        Don’t see anyone winning Opens by creativity anymore, just smack it around at 1 or 2 under or something and win.

        Sad really, but creativity is lost on the modern professionals.

        So I guess TV golf really isn’t worth watching, not only for the poor commentary but the repetitive and stale shot making. But still funny to hear Kostis contradict himself time after time lol.

        1. D Watts Post author

          You’ve just encapsulated why I don’t watch with the sound off:

          Of course, after a while, it gets boring because none of the guys on TV really have extraordinary shot making skills. It’s cut and dry, hit driver, wedge, two putt. No shot making abilities there, just bomb and gouge…

          That’s all you see.

          When I began watching golf on TV in the 90’s, you would see all the clubs in the bag, and even on par 4’s, not just the 5’s. Now, these players feel aggrieved if they can’t hit wedge into every hole, and they expect perfect lies in the bunkers and rough. No shot-making to be found anywhere.

          Golf has basically become a driving and putting contest. Not compelling enough for me to watch with the sound off, and it’s unwatchable with the sound on

          1. Mr. McJohn

            Curious what the players would do or think if they cut back both the ball and the equipment 20 yards…

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