If you’re someone struggling with consistent ball striking, slices, hooks, or any other swing fault in your golf swing, then a good place to start fixing those problems could be your swing plane. Figuring out how to get your golf swing on plane can save you several strokes and a lot of mishits.
Simply put, a golf swing plane is a path the club travels in the backswing and the downswing. Every single golfer in the entire world has a different swing plane. Also, there are multiple swing planes that are successful.
Depending on how tall or short you are will determine what kind of swing plane you have. But your stature isn’t the only thing that will determine your swing plane. Here we are going to discuss a few key elements to get your swing on a better swing plane.
What is the Swing Plane?
In golf, the swing plane is the path the golf club takes on the backswing and downswing arc to hit the golf ball. The swing plane is the vertical angle from the ground to the path the club swings on. It’s important to note that there is not one correct swing plane angle or path. There are multiple swing planes and paths a golfer can use to be successful.
That being said, a good swing plane can improve your accuracy, distance, and consistency with your clubs. For example, imagine being able to hit your irons a consistent distance. A poor swing plane can lead to confusion about which clubs to use for different yardage.
Shorter and higher lofted golf clubs tend to have a more vertical swing plane because the golfer stands closer to the ball. Longer clubs like your driver will produce a lower swing plane angle because you are standing farther away from the golf ball and the club is longer. Being cognizant and consistent with this will lead to better golf.
If you don’t maintain a consistent swing plane it could lead to the following:
- Significant side spin on the ball causing hooks or slices.
- Off-center ball striking
- Imperfect ball contact and power
The reason this happens is the club head won’t come across square and instead you catch the ball with the toe or the heel and the result is a shanked shot.
Golf Plane Swing Setup
The way you set up to the golf ball is crucial to creating a good, fast golf swing to deliver a significant strike to the golf ball.
Generally speaking, you want to set up to the golf ball in an athletic position, with your knees slightly bent and your chest bent slightly forward. (Check out how Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy set up.) How far you bend your chest has an impact on what your swing plane will look like. Golfers like Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson stand very upright to the golf ball. They have very little spine tilt in their setup. They take the club back on an upright swing plane, then drop it to the inside on the downswing.
Golfers with more forward bend/spine tilt will have swing planes that are flatter. Meaning they don’t lift their hands as much in the back swing. Matt Kuchar is a golfer with a flat swing plane and his backswing and downswing are essentially on the same plane.
• Set up in front of a mirror and check your setup down the line and from the side.
• Stand up straight, grip your club, extend your arms out straight in front of you, bend from the hips and let the club drop to the ground and then relax the arms.
• Rick Shiels video
Golf Plane Backswing
It is crucial in the backswing to maintain your spine angle and take the club back on the same plane. Ideally, the golfer will complete the backswing in a “one-piece takeaway”. This means moving the shoulders, chest, arms, hips, and hands in one piece to maintain the connection between your bodies.
Many amateur golfers struggle with maintaining a desirable swing plane because they change the angle of the golf club with their hands and arms or they don’t have a proper shoulder turn. Manipulating the clubface with your hands and arms in the golf swing will change the angle of your swing plane and force your body to readjust on the downswing.
Also, if you are someone with an upright golf swing you want more shoulder tilt to create an optimal spine angle. On the flipside, someone with more spine tilt at address will have a flatter shoulder turn.
Golf Swing Plane Backswing Drills
• Get in front of a mirror and take a swing and freeze at the top. Check to see if your swing is on plane. Ideally, you will have a full shoulder turn, maintain your posture, and the club will be square.
• Chip shots with a waist-high backswing. Works on the one-piece takeaway.
• Check out this video that does a great job of explaining a backswing drill.
Golf Plane Downswing
It is crucial in the downswing to maintain your spine angle. What I mean by maintaining spine angle is you stay in your athletic posture throughout the golf swing. You do not want to stand up during the downswing because it will change the angle you deliver the club to the ball thus changing your swing plane.
Most golfers in transition will bring the club to the golf ball on a slighter shallower swing plane than the backswing. This allows the golfer to hit the ball from the inside line and produce a solid ball flight. A majority of golfers slice the golf ball and a swing from the inside will eliminate this problem.
Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy are 2 of the best ball strikers in the world and swings you should try to emulate. They take the club back with a full shoulder turn and during the transition into the downswing they drop the club slightly inside and maintain their spine and club angles when they hit the ball.
Golf Plane Swing Downswing Drills
The downswing portion of the swing is moving from the top down to the bottom and follow through. The path of the downswing will have the greatest impact on where the shot will go. Check out this video to see how to practice this with proper posture.
Another downswing drill here using an alignment stick.
Conclusion of Golf Swing Plane
Understanding the swing plane and your own golf swing is crucial if you want to improve and get a better golf swing.
As a rule of thumb, you want to create a swing plane best suited for your golf swing. If you have a flat golf swing, you want a swing plane to complement that. Likewise, if you are a more upright golfer you want a swing plane to suit that set up.