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4 Golf Swing Plane Secrets To Help You Play Better

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Out of all the fundamentals in golf, the golf swing plane is easily…

  • The most misunderstood
  • The most underrated
  • Yet, so much of an incredibly important aspect of any well-rounded golf swing

The golf swing plane can determine so much about a shot, its trajectory, shape, and consistency. Creating a consistent swing path that can be relied upon under pressure is what separates decent players from those who make it to the next level.

In this article, we wanted to share our top golf instruction tips to help you improve and get you well on your way to playing better golf!

Golf Digest Image of a golfers swing plane with an arrow simulating the path of the golf club.

Source: Golf Digest

Understanding the Golf Swing Plane

The simple description of a golf swing plane is the path, in space, that the golf club travels on. It is usually illustrated by a circle, which is why so many  training aids typically are shaped like one.

The Secret

The key to understanding the swing is that there isn’t one effective path.

Examples

Take Ben Hogan as a case study. He arguably has the closest to “perfect” swing plane, where the club doesn’t deviate from the path at all. Some call it a single plane, or one plane.

In contrast, Tom Watson is known as one of the greatest ball strikers in history. His golf backswing plane was very upright before it shallowed out on the downswing.

History shows us that there have been different ways to achieve the same goal when it comes to consistent contact with a golf ball.

Setup Determines the Golf Swing Plane

The grip will determine quite a bit about your golf swing plane. And the angles created by your hips, shoulders, and spine dictate how the club will swing.

Setup Examples

For example, someone who sets up tall and upright (Stewart Cink comes to mind) will tend to have a more upright takeaway and backswing plane.

Upright & Flat Golf Swing Tip

The key for golfers with an upright swing is to allow the lower body to initiate the downswing. If they start the downswing with their shoulders, the club will swing steeply from the outside in. This is commonly known as an over the top swing. Most amateur golfers struggle with golf drills to stop coming over the top.

Golfers who have more spine tilt at address, like Matt Kuchar, tend to have much flatter swing planes. The key for flatter swing planes is to maintain their spine angle as much as possible to avoid altering the downswing plane, negatively affecting the shot.

Action Step 1

Master your setup, and your swing will improve dramatically.

The Takeaway

Getting the club head started adequately in the first two feet of the backswing is arguably the most crucial part of the swing. This is especially true when it comes to maintaining the path.

Maintain Club Angle

Once you have a proper setup, the easiest way to get the club head started on the correct plane is to feel like the club stays on the same plane at address until the club reaches waist height. A natural rotation in the body begins at this point. Players who set up more upright will notice the club swing back while staying down the target line. Those who set up with flatter spines may have the club swing back more on an inside arc.

Action Step 2

Regardless of how the club swings back, keep the club head on the same angle at address. You’ll establish the proper swing plane and be a more consistent ball striker.

How Body Movement affects the Swing Plane

The easiest way to ruin a golf shot is to use your hands and arms to “place” the club head in a specific position at the top.

Rotating the Big Muscles Keeps the Club On the Correct Path

The main reason a correct setup is so vital to a swing’s success is it allows golfers to merely rotate the hips and shoulders back and through.

Once the club swings to waist height, completing your hip and shoulder turn will make it easy to complete your backswing with the club on plane.

Club Location at the Top of the Golf Backswing

So, to be On Plane where exactly should the club be at the top? Like most things in golf, it depends.

Cink vs. Kuchar

Going back to our Stewart Cink/Matt Kuchar examples, you’ll notice they reach the top of the backswing in two completely different ways. Stewart Cink’s hands are much higher, with more space in between his right shoulder and his hands. While you can’t even see Kuch’s right shoulder at the top.

But they both hit the golf ball incredibly well!

Action Step 3

Take a picture of your swing at the top, and if your position at the top is somewhere in between these two, you’re on the right track.

Keeping the Correct Swing Plane Through Impact

Many a swings is ruined with the idea that on the downswing, you must do something with your hands and arms to keep the correct path.

Outside In Path vs. Inside out Path

Pulling your arms down into the “slot” usually results in an over-the-top swing, which produces a pull or slice.

Conversely, laying the shaft off and trying to re-route the club from the inside-out can make it difficult to square up the face, producing blocks, hooks, or those dreaded shots off the hosel.

Action Step 4

Here is the easiest and most repeatable way to maintain the proper path on the downswing:

Feel like you are pulling the club with your left side (if you’re a right-handed golfer).

Now the club is allowed to follow your rotation. The club shaft will be pulled by the centrifugal force, squaring up the face at impact before releasing through to the finish.

By sequencing the downswing properly, the swing essentially takes care of itself.

Conclusion

Understanding the golf swing plane, and how to apply the proper sequencing is essential if you want to become a better player from the tee box, into and around the greens. We would love to know which of these tips helped you the most in the comments below. Thanks for reading and make sure to check out our in-depth golf swing analysis too!

Sources:

The Path to Straighter Shots: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/labauve_0810

Perfect Golf Swing Review: Swingplane http://perfectgolfswingreview.net/swingplane.htm

Tom Watson Swing down the line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYeE-GIyn9Y

Swing Sequence: Stewart Cink https://www.golfdigest.com/gallery/photos_cink#2

https://www.golfdigest.com/gallery/photos_cink#5

Swing Sequence: Matt Kuchar https://www.golfdigest.com/gallery/photos-matt-kuchar#11

https://www.golfdigest.com/gallery/photos-matt-kuchar#14

The Best Golf Swing Drill For Backswing Rotation? https://youtu.be/7cOf9GRI_To?t=244

Simple Golf Swing Rotation Drill For Consistency https://youtu.be/cc710rh6Zxg?t=291

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About Author

You're looking for some help when it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game. Chris Howard has been in the golf industry since 1995, and knows just what you need to take your game to the next level. Growing up on a golf course, Chris has always had a love and passion for the sport. He desires to provide others with a better golfing experience - from helping them choose the right golf gear, to finding the perfect set up for their individual game.

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