What It Means To Swing On Plane
The mechanics of the golf swing allow every golfer to have a unique swing, and the amount of rotation, or degree of plane, that is used can vary greatly.
The term swing on plane simply means that the player's body is working in concert with their club head. When you swing on plane, you are getting the maximum amount of distance in your shot.
The player who is most vertically on plane will be the one who has the most distance, all other things being equal. A common term to describe this may be launch angle. The player who launches the ball the highest will be on the highest plane.
When a player is twisted in the backswing, you know that they are probably not getting on plane. In general, the further along you are in the swing and not on plane, the more likely you will hit hook or slice.
Trying to correct this and being able to find your swing on plane is incredibly important. A consistent swing plane will help you hit more consistently and help your ball flight.
Why does being On Plane matter?
If your irons were all exactly the same length, you wouldn’t have to worry about where you plane them.
If you have a 3 iron, and your 4 iron is (or should be) a little longer than your 3 iron, you’ve just added an adjustment variable.
You would adjust the plane on your 4 iron to match that of your much more frequently used 3 iron.
If your driver is longer than your 3 iron, you would adjust the plane on the driver to match that of your 3 iron and allow you to hit a draw or fade.
Checkpoints for Getting On Plane
The key is to watch and feel your swing plane. But there is nothing like a bit of structure to help you get it right. Here are some checkpoints to help guide you in bringing the club plane in line with the swing plane. • Start with your clubface: Hold your driver about 6 inches in front of you and look at the clubface. Most of the leading edge should be in front of the clubhead’s center line, but not much.
- Next, look at the leading edge of your driver at address. Check that your right foot is covering the majority of your driver’s leading edge and that the leading edge is open to the ball, not closed. This is the correct lay-out for a neutral shot (where the ball won’t slice or hook).
- When swinging back, you should feel the clubface open as you take the club back. You should also feel the clubhead passing through a point behind your right shoulder. This is one of the key checkpoints to make sure your swing is on plane.
- When looking at the golf ball from behind, you should feel that your clubhead is following the line of the ball. This means that your clubhead should be past the point where it was parallel to the target line at impact.
Drills for Getting your Swing On Plane
Getting your swing on the right plane will make a huge difference to your game. Not only will it improve your distance for shots hit off the tee, but it will help you hit a draw or a fade and add accuracy for your short game.
One of the biggest problems for golfers of all skill levels is getting the club in the correct position at the top of the backswing.
Unfortunately this is a difficult one to fix, but there are two things you can do to help.
First, make sure you set up with the correct posture.
Positioning your back foot and shoulder to directly behind the ball will give a good position where you can easily see the ball and take away some divots.
Don’t try and be perfect here, as sometimes you will be slightly off line. Just get close and learn your natural position.
Second, make a picture in your mind of what you want the correct position at the top of the backswing to look like.
Swing on Edge Golf provides a really great set of photos to use as visual triggers. You’ll be surprised how quickly this visual trigger helps you hit on plane at the top of your backswing.
Lie Board Drill
The Lie board training aid is a very simple but effective swing plane aid. It’s very straight forward to use but it really can give you instant benefits on the course provided you practice consistently with the aim of improving, rather than just going through the motions to improve your check book balance.
Here’s how to use the Lie board.
Set up the board with a club and a ball.
Place the board perpendicular to the target line. The lead edge of the board facing you.
Address with a neutral spine.
Drill the ball as you swing with a full swing in the direction the board is pointing.
Focus on the result on the line the board is pointing in, rather than the target.
Finish both the downswing and follow-through up as you would if you were hitting a pitch shot.
Keep your backswing short and active.
Drop the clubhead underneath your body as your lower body unwinds.
Keep your club slightly inside your left leg at address and through the swing.
Remember that you’re not hitting the ball: Just hit the ball as if the aim was to slide it between the edge of the board and the ball. If done correctly the ball will slip below the board.
Drill from 60% to 100% of your current swing speed.
Alignment Sticks in the Ground Drill
When most golfers think about getting their swings on plane, they click their wedges on a pitching wedge to the ball. You can do this drill in three different ways.
Purposely have a wedge head slightly in the ground at the ball before you make the shot. Aim the club head at the target and make the swing. It will generally follow the path of the wedge. This is good for evaluating what you are doing at impact. First, you need a club with the shaft pointing away from the ball and that you can click on the ball. Aim the club head just about the ball and the shaft, the club head will hit the ball at an angle towards the target. Try this one more in the direction you wish your shots go. If you want the ball to go straight, aim the club head right at the toe of the club instead of the heel and you’ll be able to follow the line of the shaft.
To do the wedge in the ground drill on your own, you need a wedge with the toe lying just behind of the ball. You can make this wedge right when you address. Address the ball and almost hit down on the club to align to the target.
Shoulder-Push On Plane Drill
This drill is great to learn how to get your shoulder out in front of the ball to help you get your swing on plane.
It is also helpful to develop good feel around the ball and learn to use your body to deliver a consistent strike.
To use the shoulder-push drill, tee a ball up about 17 to 18 inches from a net.
Stand about one club length back and position your feet so your toes are pointing towards the target.
Turn your arms and shoulders so they are pointing the same direction as your feet.
Create a downward angle with your hands by bringing them down away from your shoulders. This should be roughly 80 degrees relative to your body.
Set your arms into the proper position to deliver an attack position. Your hands should be in front of your shoulders and in line with your sternum.
Execute a shoulder-push by extending your right arm and shoulder towards the target. Your shoulder will naturally move out to the right in front of your body to help you get your swing on plane.
As you shoulder-push, you should feel your left shoulder naturally moving behind the ball.
Quickly rotate your upper body around to the left to fully extend through the shot.
Play some practice shots with your eyes closed and your head down to get a good feel for how the shoulder-push position feels and helps you get your swing on plane.
The mental game
Most of my golfing life has been spent thinking about getting the right club, the right stance, the right grip, and the right backswing. I have spent thousands of hours going over the mechanics of the swing. But I have spent no time on the things that really make a difference between an amateur and Tour professional. Why? Because there is little to no information out there.
I hope you have found the information in this book as interesting as I have, and it helps you achieve your maximum potential in golf and in life.
The challenge now is how you use the information you have learned from this book. How exactly do you do that? Well, that is what another book is all about!