Two types of swings are in fashion today – the two-plane and the one-plane.
Until recently, almost all professionals used a two-plane swing, involving a fairly erect posture, narrow stance, a level turn and a swing that brings the arms up almost vertically, on a steeper plane than that of the shoulders.
Over the last 15 years or so, swing scholar Jim Hardy has introduced the increasingly popular one-plane swing, which is distinguished from the two-plane by its physical ease and mechanical simplicity.
While both types of swings end up at essentially the same spot – square to the ball at impact – they get there in different ways. Let’s talk about the path your club should be taking to the ball and the three crucial stops it should make along the way.
Stop No. 1
The position of your hands and wrists halfway through your backswing should provide clear evidence whether you’re using a two- or one-plane swing.
Since the two-plane backswing is intended to be pulled straight back up over your shoulder. Halfway through the backswing (at the 9 o’clock position), your arms will be moving on an upright plane. Your clubhead is slightly outside or aligned with your hands and your wrists hinged.
Here’s a good test: If you’re on-plane and you allow your palms to open while in this position, the clubshaft should slide down through them. If you’re using a one-plane swing, which is flatter by nature than the two-plane swing, the clubshaft will not slide through your palms so easily, if at all.
Stop No. 2
At the top of the more traditional two-plane backswing, the front arm is more upright (between the ear and shoulder). The shaft of the club is parallel to the target line.
By contrast, the one-plane swing arrives at the top of the backswing with the front arm on the same plane as the shoulders. This in turn keeps the clubshaft parallel to the target line. This maintains an unchanged spine angle from the initial address position. It is called a “one-plane” because the angle of the front arm matches the angle of the line between the shoulders.
Stop No. 3
It is on the way back toward the ball that, for most golfers, the one-plane swing will begin to feel odd. If you’ve grown up learning a two-plane swing, the one-plane route will feel counterintuitive to your muscles. After all, you’ve spent hours trying to perfect a swing in which the club is brought straight back up and over your shoulders. Your body is used to releasing your hips and pulling the rest of your body along with them.
In the one-plane swing, your upper body releases first and your lower body second. The swing is designed this way in order to help you avoid getting “stuck” partway through the downswing. This is a circumstance that leads to perilous adjustments as a result of flawed timing.
By I.J. Schecter with Doug Weaver.
Doug Weaver is the Director of Instruction at the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy. He conducts “Where Does the Power Come From?,” a free golf clinic and demonstration. For details on the instructional programs offered at the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy, call 843-785-1138, 800-827-3006 or visit www.palmettodunes.com.