Definition of a Single Plane Swing.
Very few people understand what a single plane swing is and there really is no such things as a two plane swing. Sometimes the swing plane seems as mysterious as the plane on Fantasy Island. We’re going to talk about what the swing plane is, how it works and why it’s so important?
You’ve probably heard about two plane swings and single plane swings. And you’ve probably heard phrase like dropping in the slot, flat swings and upright swings. We’re going try define those terms and to answer some of the common questions about the swing plane.
The center of your swing is the socket of your left shoulder (for a right handed golfer). Why do I say it’s the left shoulder not the right shoulder or the spine. That’s because at impact it’s the left side of the body controlling things. It is the left side (upper arm and forearm) that’s in line with the club shaft at impact. The top most point of the left side involvement is the left shoulder.
The left shoulder being the center of your swing arc is one of the two points that define your swing plane. That’s the geometric plane that ideally your club follows on the backswing and downswing. The other point that defines the plane of the swing is the ball. So if you draw a line from just under your front shoulder to the ball at address you’ve just defined your swing plane. That plane indicates the position you want the club to wind up in at impact. Being On-Plane means you are on the desired plane of the swing (about 45 degrees). The swing plane is usually pictured as a large sheet of plywood or as a large sheet of glass as Ben Hogan did in his most famous book. Viewed from overhead the swing appears to be an inside to square to inside motion.
Golf Digest in the September 2006 issue has an interesting article about the swing plane. It’s on page 100 and it’s called The Slot Swing. It has some interesting pictures of the angle of the swing plane on pro’s backswings and their downswings. Essentially, Jim McLean defines being in the slot as being on plane at impact. He goes on define through testing that the average impact position plane is about 45 degrees and can vary a bit depending on the height of the golfer. He then illustrates the swings of a number of PGA pros who have backswing planes of 48 degrees to 85 degrees. That means these pros take the club back off plane up to 40 degrees OFF-PLANE and then they have to reroute or loop their club to get it back on that 45 degree downswing path. That rerouting is by definition a two plane swing.
At impact everyone’s swing plane is the same (relatively the same depending on height as mentioned above). The question is how to get there. There is an easy way (single plane swing) and a more complex way (dual plane swing).
A one plane swing is where you take the club back on a plane equal to your impact position (about 45 degrees) and your downswing is also about 45 degrees. I firmly believe a one plane swing is dramatically easier for everyone.
Is There Such A Thing As A Two Plane Golf Swing?
I say no. There is an on-plane golf swing also referred to as a One Plane Swing and there is an Off-Plane Swing. The two plane swing takes the club off-plane and then you have to reroute it and manipulate it to get it back on-plane during the downswing. This can
Can you be successful with a two plane swing (an off-plane swing)? Yes, sure. But it’s a lot easier to be successful with a one plane swing. Take a look at the players on the PGA Tour. Most of them grew up on a golf course. Many of them have family members who were pros who guided them All of them have spent ten’s of thousands of hours grooving their swings. They practice enough and are highly skilled enough to groove almost any swing. All of them are skilled athletes, many at several sports, or as Scott Hazledine has said, “They are freaks of nature.” That’s meant as a compliment meaning that these guys have extremely high level skills.
Unfortunately we do not generally have the opportunity to spend that kind of time or money on grooving our golf swing. That’s why we need a simple single plane swing. Unless golf is the most important thing in your life and you spend the majority of every day playing or practicing I believe you’re adding unnecessary complexity to your golf swing if you anything other than a single plane swing.
I define things a little differently than Jim McLean does. I don’t think there is any in the slot position. I just simply call that being on-plane. I don’t believe you should drop in the slot because I don’t believe you should ever be out of the slot. With your golf swing I believe you are either On-Plane or you are not. It’s that simple. If you’re not on-plane then you are OFF-PLANE either above the plane or below the plane.
Natural Golf popularized the high hands set up position. This position has the advantage of setting you up On-Plane automatically right at address. When you start On-Plane you have a much better chance of coming back to impact On-Plane. Again I believe if you’re not using a hands high position at address you’re again adding unnecessary complexity to your golf swing.
So the next question you should be asking is how you can tell if your swing is On-Plane. Video is the easiest way. Just video yourself from behind (video aiming toward the target). If you don’t have a video camera, stand with a mirror or patio door behind you. Then as you do a slow motion backswing watch where the image of the shaft crosses your body. It should cross near the level of your front shoulder.
What happens if your swing is OFF-PLANE? Usually bad things happen when you are not On-Plane.
“Above the plane” backswings usually involve lifting the club with the shoulders or the hands. The club generally gets “too vertical” meaning that the butt end of the club points inside the extended target line. If you get too steep (above the swing plane) it gets very difficult to get your downswing back on plane. What usually happens is an Outside-To-Inside swing causing a pull.
A “Below the plane” swing involves bringing the hands back too much to the inside (below the swing plane) and the butt of the club points outside the extended target line. Quite often this can result in a push or a high weak shot to the right (for right handed golfers). This can also result in a hook if the club face stays square to the target.
I believe you will see the Single Plane swing become the dominate swing of the future because of its simplicity and repeatability.