Golf Tips: Plane Path

By Lyle Smith
Achieving the proper proper plane is key to a consistent swing.
Achieving the proper proper plane is key to a consistent swing.

Swing plane is a popular topic among golf pros, instructional magazines and casual players alike. Some teachers advocate a single-plane swing that delivers the clubhead along an identical path to your takeaway versus the more traditional two-plane approach where your backswing is slightly more upright than the downswing and follow-through. Many golfers will dissect Ben Hogan's "Five Lessons; The Modern Fundamentals of Golf" and argue each point, but they often lack a true understanding of what a swing plane is and how it determines the swing path.

Traditional Swing

Your swing plane is an imaginary surface created by the shape and angle of your golf swing. As you swing, the clubhead follows an elliptical path around your body. The angle that the ellipse travels on, relative to the ground, is your swing plane. To this day, "Hogan's Five Lessons" is the basis of many players' understanding of the golf swing. In it, he describes the swing plane in two parts.

First Part of the Swing

The first part of the golf swing, the backswing, utilizes a plane that runs from the ball up through the golfer's shoulders. This plane is traditionally more upright than the plane utilized on the downswing and follow through.

Second Part of the Swing

The second part of the swing, the downswing and follow-through, utilizes a flatter plane than the backswing. As the golfer initiates the downswing by turning his hips toward the target and dropping his hands along the arc back to the ball, the plane flattens into a more horizontal, powerful aspect. This re-routing of the clubhead is sometimes referred to as finding the "slot."

Single-Plane Swing

The swing path is the actual path the clubhead takes as it extends along your arc away from the ball then back through the hitting zone and up into your follow-through. So, in a two-plane swing, the path of the clubhead changes slightly as you re-route the club onto the flatter plane into the slot. The goal in a single-plane swing is for the path the clubhead travels on the backswing to be basically a mirror image of the path on the downswing.

The biggest challenge in learning the more athletic single-plane swing is forgetting many of the lessons and changing the habits you learned when you first began playing golf with the traditional two-plane swing.

Swing Path

The swing path is the actual path the clubhead takes as it extends along your arc away from the ball then back through the hitting zone and up into your follow through. So, in a two-plane swing, the path of the clubhead changes slightly as you re-route the club onto the flatter plane into the slot. The goal in a single-plane swing is for the path the clubhead travels on the backswing to be basically a mirror image of the path on the downswing.

About the Author

Lyle Smith is an award-winning copywriter with a widely varied background. He has completed work for individuals, small businesses and fortune 1000 corporate clients all over the country. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Villanova University.

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