Golf Swing Plane Explained
Do you want to hit the golf ball with more power and consistency… every single time you play golf? If you’re like most golfers, I’m sure you answered yes.
If so, you need to learn more about the proper golf swing plane.
This concept was first introduced by one of the best ball strikers of all time, Ben Hogan. In his book, Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf he takes a detailed look to understand the importance of plane throughout the golf swing. We’ll reference this book throughout the post to better understand the swing plane and how it impacts your ball striking, flight, and trajectory.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about a shallow vs. upright swing, shallowing the club, and how plane impacts distance, this is the post for you.
Golf Swing Plane 101
First off, what is swing plane in golf?
According to Trackman, “Swing plane is the vertical angle between the ground and the circle that the club head travels on during the bottom portion of the swing arc. Swing plane is similar to what instructors refer to on video as “shaft plane”, but the shaft plane uses a 2D camera image at one point (frame) in time.”
So, what determines the plane of a golf club?
Let’s allow the great Ben Hogan to describe it perfectly. As he said in his book, “The correct angle for each person’s plane depends on how he is built. A fellow whose legs are proportionally shorter than his arms for example, necessarily creates a shallow angle for his plane. At the other extreme, a man whose legs are proportionally longer than his arms set up a very steep angle for himself.”
An upright swing is when the arms and hands work more up than around the body. While a flat swing is when the club is laid off at the top of the backswing as the backswing is more around the body.
Which leads to another question most golfers ask… should I have a flat swing? Or is an upright swing better?
Hogan answers this brilliantly in his book as well. “Neither plane, let me repeat, is incorrect. Technically it is wrong to term the man who properly swing on a shallow plane a flat swinger or the man who properly swings on a steep plane an upright swinger, simply because their planes happen to be flatter or more upright than the plane of the man of more average proportions.”
Some great ball strikers over the years have had flat swings (like Matt Kuchar) while others have had upright swings (like Justin Thomas). It all depends on your body type, posture, takeaway, grip, and your natural tendencies.
Different Planes of the Golf Swing
Additionally, there are three types of plane (regardless if you’re steep or flat); on plane, over plane, or under plane. Each one produces a different type of shot. Let’s break down each to better understand how your plane affects the quality and shape of your golf shot.
In a perfect world, you would have an on plane swing as it would create a dead straight golf shot. But as you know, this is usually not the case for most golfers and as Tiger Woods described it, “A straight shot is the hardest one to hit.” Most golfers tend to come over the plane or under the plane on the downswing.
The majority of everyday golfers have a swing that is “over” the plane. Meaning, the downswing plane is over the backswing plane. This is known as getting too steep, over the top, and players might refer to it as “chopping wood.”
With this type of motion, you will have an inside to outside swing path. This creates a pull golf shot and tends to yield a fade (or in some cases, a slice) as well. Since the path is going to the left of the target, it’s common to fade the ball back to the target.
A swing that is slightly over the plane isn’t a big deal. But the steeper you get on the downswing, the more of an over the top move you will make which leads to a nasty slice and poor contact that most golfers hate.
Under Plane (Below Plane)
Consistent ballstrikers, both amateurs and professionals, tend to have a swing that is under the plane (shallow plane). Meaning, the path on the downswing is underneath the original backswing plane. This type of swing motion creates an outside to inside path that shallows the golf club.
Shallowing the club is a “power move” that helps you compress the golf ball at impact.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this move is Sergio Garcia. His swing creates an insane amount of lag that has helped him become one of the most consistent ball strikers for more than two decades.
Single Plane vs. Two Plane Swing
There are two types of planes in the golf instruction world; single plane (or one plane) vs. a two plane swing. Most golfers are taught a two plane swing by most golf instructors and what you see when you watch golf on the PGA Tour.
So, what’s the difference between the two types of swings?
In a one plane swing, you set up in the same position in which you hit the ball at impact. The goal of the swing is to simply get back to address position
However, there is a one plane swing that is good for certain types of players, specifically seniors. As you get older and naturally lose flexibility, a single plane motion might be beneficial.
Swing Plane Drills
If you want to work on your plane for a more consistent shot pattern, here are some of the best drills to help you out.
This is a great drill if you struggle with the takeaway part of your backswing by taking it too far inside. As you can see in the video, instead of taking the club back like normal, you hinge your wrists up from the address position. Then you rotate your upper body around to complete your backswing.
I suggest doing this drill 3-5 times in a row, then take a few normal swings. Over time, you will start to take the club more outside on your takeaway and shallow the club easier on your downswing.
Bad habits are hard to break.
The only way to make real change in your golf swing is with repetition and retrain your mind and body to make a new move. The 100 rep drill from Clay Ballard, a top YouTube golf coach, will help you develop a more on plane takeaway.
Watch the video above and make this part of your daily practice routine since you can do it at home or at the driving range. Soon enough you’ll have the perfect takeaway that will lead to a much more powerful downswing move.
PlaneMate: The Best Training Aid to Improve Plane
While the drills above will help you, it’s not always easy to feel the proper takeaway motion. Sometimes, If you might need the help of a training aid to ensure you’re getting in the right position.
Luckily, Tour Striker created a revolutionary training aid that will help you feel exactly what it means to shallow the golf club. It will help you feel a proper technique on the takeaway so you don’t suck it too far back inside or extend it out. Plus, it will help you feel the shallowing motion on the downswing (aka, the power move).
As they said on their website, “The Tour Striker PlaneMate is the first product of its kind that provides the feeling of a professional takeaway and transition. By adopting the sense of resisting the tension band early in the backswing you’ll train your body to take the club back properly.”
I can vouch for this too as I’ve tried the PlaneMate and a handful of other devices but nothing comes close to this training aid. The resistance bands help you feel the perfect takeaway, which helps you relax your arms, and shallow the golf club on the downswing. The result is a pure strike with plenty of body rotation and an inside-outside path.
I will say it’s a little awkward to take with you to the driving range but you can use it at home too. Plus, it works for right or left-handed golfers, and you can hit golf balls with it (from wedges, all the way to your driver). It’s a phenomenal training aid that will help you master the swing plane once and for all.
Your swing plane has a huge impact on your overall ball striking. If you want to find the sweet spot more often and increase your distance, you need to work on your plane.
While there are a lot of drills to help you out, I think the PlaneMate is the best solution. It can help you with all aspects of your game (from chipping to driving) and can be used on the range or at home. Keep practicing getting on plane or slightly underneath the plane to 10X your ball striking.
Do you work on plane when you practice?
Make sure to let us know in the comments below.