The Cut : The Cut - Summer 2017
58 THE CUT meant eliminating some excessive wrist manipulation, which had already caused one minor injury. And gaining distance was best achieved by changing Lydia’s ball flight from a safe fade (a left-to-right ball flight) to a more aggressive draw (right-to-left), which brings greater distance. It just so happened the A-Swing would help Lydia do both these things. Leadbetter, perhaps being diplomatic, initially had reser- vations about changing Lydia’s swing as it would be a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. “If she played well, she was supposed to play well. If she played badly, well, then it’s, ‘You guys screwed up’,” he said. “I went through that before with Nick Faldo. It was, ‘Who the hell are you to mess up our golden boy?” “It’s always a bit of a risk, but you have to take a little bit of risk in life sometimes.” Leadbetter claimed his A-Swing would “shake up” the golf world and overturn conventional teaching methods, so having a star who could prove his point was a blessing. Among the radical redesigns the A-Swing brings to the game are that hands are placed on the shaft in ‘opposition’ to each other, completely different to the accepted method of the hands being parallel to each other. Most important, however, is the upright backswing, which Leadbetter described as a “blatant challenge of convention” but which he argues is the most efficient and simplest backswing to facilitate what matters most: an on-plane downswing. By taking the swing off course on the way back, putting it on course on the way back down became easier. Whether Lydia needed the A-Swing to achieve what her parents wanted, or whether she was a useful marketing tool for Leadbetter, is a moot point, but the controversial coach has certainly used her success to justify the changes and sell his theory. “When watching her swing, pay attention to (and enjoy!) the wonderfully free and ‘alive’ energy of her club as she releases it with a controlled yet abandoned lash into the ball. That’s Lydia and the A-Swing at their best.” Leadbetter said the new swing, combined with a training regime focused on her core strength and making her lower body more stable, as well as equipment “fine-tuned to the nth degree” by Callaway, all combined to add around 20 metres to her driving distance. As well as completely changing how Lydia swung the club, Leadbetter also changed her long, languid, hypnotic tempo, making it a “smidgin quicker”. This slightly quicker, shorter swing was designed to stop Lydia using her hips to spin through the shot. In short, claimed Leadbetter, the new swing relied less on the perfect timing of many moving parts and therefore was more efficient. “Yet, there are still doubters and so-called experts who think we shouldn’t have touched her golf swing at all,” he wrote in a blog in 2015. “When we started with her, she was only 16. It was Coach David Leadbetter shares a joke with his star pupil.
The Cut - Spring 2016
The Cut - Autumn 2017