As introduced by one of the greatest golfers, Ben Hogan, the term swing plane is the flat invisible surface that a golf club head travels along in their golf swing. The swing plane can also be referred to as the pivot angle of your hips, the club head's angle of motion, or the rotation of your shoulders. This shows you that your body usually determines your swing plane as much as it concerns your golf club.
Your golf swing plane is determined by several factors, including your posture, body type, height, and how you turn your body, swing your arm, and determine many things about a shot in the game, including the shape, trajectory, and consistency. Different clubs have a different plane because of the club angle and how the ball lies on the ground. This is clear in how short the club determines how upright your swing plane will be, and if the ball is above your feet on a sidehill lie, naturally, you will have a flatter swing plane.
Ben Hogan introduced the term swing plane in his book, "Five Lessons; The Modern Fundamentals of Golf" and is the first professional golfer to tackle the basics of a one-plane swing. In his book, his golf instruction is for golfers to imagine their swing plane as a pane of glass resting on top of their back shoulder. Ben Hogan gave a tip where a golfer should visualize never crossing the plane or breaking the glass as it will either result in a downswing or a backswing. This article will help you better understand the swing plane better.
The Two Main Types of Swing Planes
Both types of swing planes usually end up at the same spot that is square to the ball at impact, they get there in different ways, and we have explained them below.
1. One-Plane Swing
A one-plane swing is achieved if your angle doesn't change for both the follow-through and the backswing, and if it changes, it becomes a two-plane swing. This technique is more traditional because it's reliable and a favorite for coaches because you can easily repeat it once you get the hang of it. The one-plane golf swing is a rounder and flatter swing than the two-plane swing, and it is thought to be simpler because it does not need readjusting of the swing to square the club at impact like for a two-plane swing.
The one-plane swing allows your body to function as one unit, promoting consistency and accuracy. Some of the popular one-plane swingers were Moe Norman, Ben Hogan, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, and Rickie Fowler. Another believer of the single plane theory is the PGA champion and modern golfer Bryson Dechambeau who prefers this method to guarantee all his irons have the same length and adopted it after reading the book "The Golfing Machine." For amateurs, one-plane swings are ideal because they give a simple feel for their swing.
Hula Hoop One-Plane Drill
Stand inside a hula hoop angled at approximately 45 degrees, and if both your follow through and backswing follow the hula hoop arch, that's a one-plane swing you have achieved. Once you get the swing rhythm of the hula hoop, grab a blindfold and hit the shots, trying to create a swing path of the hula hoop with every shot.
The hula hoop drill is a perfect visual aid for allowing a player to see the path of a one-plane swing and the range. The hula hoop usually helps golf players start too steep with their backswing and create a two-plane approach that makes them struggle to get back the golf ball consistently.
One plane swinger exercise: Rotation Drill
Another example of a one-plane swing exercise to understand the proper feel of a one-plane swing is correctly rotating the body with the shoulders and the arms working in unison and the body rotating away from the golf ball. To achieve this, you should stay centered and prevent the weight from shifting from one body side to another. It would be best if you did this drill as often as possible to get the feel of a good shoulder turn and increase your range of motion.
To master the rotation of a one-plane swing, use this plane drill that starts with losing the golf clubs and using your arms to guide you while addressing the ball as usual and dropping your arms as you would in a proper address. Start your swing and complete your swing on-plane while rotating back and ensure you keep your head in position following through around the rod and this will ensure your body can produce consistent one-plane golf swings.
Pros of the one-plane swing
- It is a very compact motion
- Simple and easy to repeat
- Improves your accuracy when executed correctly
- The one plane swing allows parts of the body to work as one unit
- The one plane swinger is suitable for beginners
- It is a more natural approach on the rotation around the body's center
Cons of the one-plane swing
- Some golfers say it restricts their natural ability and strength
- There is a noticeable decrease in shot length for strong golfers
- It is not ideal for golfers looking for more versatility in their game
- It is claimed to stunt advanced portions of a player's golf game.
DeChambeau’s Five Steps to Perfect One-Plane Swing
1. Rest the golf club in the palm and not on the fingers
For righthanded golfers, place the grip of the club in the center of your palm, wrapping your fingers around the shaft to achieve a better fastened and locked hold on the golf club. With thick golf grips on your golf clubs, you can mitigate problems with adopting this grip.
2. Before you start the swing, start the club
DeChambeau derived this perfect swing plane step from the book 'The Golfing Machine .' The step involves DeChambeau pressing his hands forward and moving the weight towards his right foot before starting the backswing. This step helps in creating a repeatable rhythm to a one-plane swing.
3. Imagine an upright circle surrounding your body during the backswing
Your club should follow the loop throughout the swing while the arms and hands don't leave the circle's path. The imaginary circle helps you achieve the correct swing plane because it is a visual for the short game you can also use when making pitch shots, bunker shots, and chips to the green.
4. Ensure you have a flat hand at the top of the backswing
This is a vital step in honing your one-plane swing because it keeps the one-plane swing on the correct swing path and avoids any stray shots. When the club is at the apex of your backswing, the wrist should look more like a straight line from your knuckles to your wrist and arm with no break.
5. Rotate your body around a center point
This is the last step to a perfect one-plane swing which focuses on rotating your body on a center point instead of shifting the weight from one side to another. To get a correct golf swing plane using one plane is challenging if your shoulders and hips and moving laterally because rotation is the key to a perfect one-plane swing. Ensure your head is in the same position throughout the swing and beyond the impact ensures you achieve a clean one-plane swing without needing to adjust constantly.
2. Two-Plane Swing
Most golfers swing the club on two planes, the downswing plane and the backswing plane, because of the natural movement and their address position. A two-plane swing is more straight up and down than a one-plane swing and is more complicated than a one-plane swing because it needs a slight adjustment of the hands at the top to square the club at impact efficiently. This method is considered unconventional and is usually preferred by PGA Tour professional golfers because it can achieve a fast swing speed and long-hitting distance.
However, it requires more practice than the one-plane swing, but it can improve your game. It is easy to spot the two plane swings because they look uncharacteristic. The two plane parts should match, and also, a player should have exceptional control of their body to guarantee your body and the club are in sync and accurate, and consistent.
An example of a golfer that has achieved results using this unconventional method is the two-time Master's Champions, Bubba Watson. Bubba usually takes his hands high on the backswing, adjusting his feet while moving the club to another plane during the downswing and through the impact. Another golfer who uses this method is Jack Nicklaus.
An example of a two-plane swing would be standing inside the same hula hoop at about a 45-degree angle, and the backswing and follow-through don't follow the hula hoop arch.
Why should I try the two-plane swing?
- They can generate high clubhead speeds.
- It is an ideal golf swing plane for advanced golfers since it gives them more control over their golf shots.
- Helps a golfer achieve additional distance
- This golf swing plane gives more accurate ball flights and accuracy
- Less restrictive and a more natural golf swing plane
- Promotes an elevated swing speed
- Ideal for golfers looking to unlock further gains in their golf game
Why should I avoid the two-plane swing?
- Hard for an amateur or beginner to understand
- Each body section activated is delayed
A Broom Two Plane Swing Drill
A major mistake done by amateurs when trying to achieve a two-plane swing is mainly on the downswing, where they smother the golf ball because they are stuck. This results in a shot that gets more ground than the ball at impact, and to avoid this, you should try to achieve a good sweep allowing solid contact and follow through.
Using a broom is relevant because if you sweep something from the ground in the golf swing's motion, you will extend an arc that lifts the item from the ground, but if you stayed down for too long, your item on the ground would not move. It is the same case when trying to hit the golf ball because you shouldn't stay down over the ball for an extended period at impact.
In a few practice swings using a broom, feel how your left shoulder raises and how your hips slide after impact to open up the arc to sweep the item away effectively. Now you can take your club back and try to sweep the ball at impact in the same motion of raising the shoulder and opening your hips to achieve a more natural arc in the two-plane swing.
How to Hone the Two-Plane Swing using a Broom
How you will hone your golf swing plane depends on your swing staying on the plane with each round. To ignite the muscle memory, you can use a flotation device known as a floatie which is for children out to the range. If you are a right-handed golfer, inflate and place the floatie above your right elbow, which is the bicep's bottom part.
Go ahead to feel how the floatie device is going against your body when you begin your downswing. If you don't feel the device touching your body, it means that your swing is distant at the start, and you will struggle to find the golf swing plane. However, if you feel the device pressing on your body, then it means you are starting too far on the inside. To be on the right swing plane and achieve a good swing, your device should be close to what it feels like when placing it against your torso throughout the entire swing.
A Simple Way to Find Out Your Current Golf Swing Plane Approach
Locate a large mirror in your home and stand with your swing's back shoulder to the mirror, and pretend to swing a club holding your arms when you reach the top of the swing.
Fo the right-handed golfers, if your left arm matches the shoulders and can trace a distinct straight line, you are a one-plane swinger. However, if you find your left arm higher than your shoulder line, you are a two-plane swinger.
The Perfect Exercise to Hone the Proper Plane: Blur Drill
The suitable exercise for a proper swing plane can be gotten from Johnny Miller with women and men golfers doing it with a lot of ease. Johhny Miller is a two-time golf winner that recommends looking up towards the impact and following the golf club's blur as it tracks around the golfer's body. Miller named it the "Blur drill" because you don't see the club-head, but the blur should be along the target line, and you can use it to get the blur near the target. If you find the “blur” away in either left or right of the target, then you will know that your golf shots will naturally head in the same direction.
The swing plane drill is necessary for golfers who are becoming loose with their swings or losing shots to the right or left of their target line. Before starting the swing plane drill, locate a central target on the range you direct the golf ball towards. Go ahead to start with half swings to follow the golf club's head after impact because the purpose is to endure the club-head support the target line. After using the half swings to discover your rhythm, start taking full swings to feel how the swing plane will feel on the golf course.
Tips to Achieving the Perfect Golf Swing Plane
In golf, you can get something wrong with your swing plane and get away with it, but if you don't master the golf swing plane, you will suffer shots from anywhere but the fairway. This is because the swing plane is the path a golfer takes to the ball, and if outside or inside than where they should be, the shot will be mishit, and it will cost both shots and distance.
Four key things will help a golfer achieve the perfect plane golf swing, and they include:
1. More than one golf swing plane exists
This can be seen in the examples of the best golf ball-strikers, such as Ben Hogan and Tom Watson. These professional winners use different swing planes to hit the golf ball on impact, but they still achieve a perfect golf swing plane. However, Watson's swing plane is steeper and more upright, whereas Hogan's is a flatter swing and more round, but both the swings are effective.
2. Your set up determines your swing plane
For your plane golf swing, if your setup is upright and tall, you get to achieve a steep downswing and the same vice versa. Therefore, if you have a steep golf swing plane, ensure you use your lower body to start the swing, but with a flatter swing plane, try our best to maintain your spine's angle through the impact.
3. Ensure to maintain your club angle throughout your swing plane
Maintaining your club angle at the address is the key to ensuring you stay on the plane until the club reaches the waist-high. This guarantees the golfer establishes the correct swing plane while their natural body takes over as they take the club to the top.
4. Rotate the big muscles to ensure you stay on plane
When you reach the top of the swing, the easiest way to maintain your golf club angle and stay on the plane is by rotating the big muscles in your body. Keeping your golf swing on-plane during the downswing is the easiest way to stay on-plane through impact and therefore achieve solid irons.
Golf Swing Plane Drill to Hit Solid Irons
Golfers don't achieve solid irons because they take the club back too steep in their backswing and therefore throwing their golf swing plane off when they come down. This golf swing plane drill is suitable for eliminating flaws like an over-the-top downswing or a looping swing that throws off your timing. The drill helps to train you to swing back and through on the same golf swing plane, boosting your efficiency, distance, and consistency.
- You will need an alignment stick or a headcover or noodle.
- Stick the alignment stick in the ground at 45 degrees and put a headcover or a noodle over it.
- Ensure the noodle's end is touching the top of your wrist, taking a step towards the target, and swing back.
- When going back, keep your hands under the noodle, and when swinging through, ensure your hands do the same.
- Drop the ball down and hit it, and the headcover will provide instant feedback.
- Work on this drill until you have perfected the mechanics in your swing resulting in consistent hitting of solid irons.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the correct golf swing plane?
To achieve the correct golf swing plane and get the perfect feeling for a two-plane swing, you should stand closer to the ball and in an upright manner. When the club is going back, ensure you check the club's steep angle, and if you are correctly doing it, the butt end of the club shaft should directly point inside the golf ball when you achieve a 75% of your backswing.
2. How important is a swing plane in golf?
The golf swing plane is considered by professionals and low-handicap golfers as one of the most critical concepts in a golf game. This is because a golf swing plane is directly related to how far and straight a golfer can hit the ball.
However, the golf swing plane is also one of the most challenging concepts for high handicappers because they are unsure of a swing plane and how a good one should be. To correctly get swing planes, the butt end of your club shaft should be pointing directly inside your golf ball when you reach up to 75% of your backswing.
3. How do you know if your golf swing is on-plane?
Ensuring your plane golf swing is on the correct swing plane on top of your backswing is essential in a game. An accurate full swing should result in the clubhead and club shaft pointing directly towards the intended target. You can quickly check the position using a mirror, as we have explained above, or using a video camera.
Your club should not point either to the right or left, as both positions can lead to a flawed or manipulated downswing. Clubs that swing back on the correct swing plane are more accessible for the golfer to bring down and hit more straight and consistent shots with less manipulation.