Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Swing and It's Plane

Swing is defined as "changing location by moving back and forth, move in a curve or arc...."

A plane by definition, "is a horizontal shape in which no part is higher or lower than another."

See Trackman's definition here:

A golf swing moves the club head back and forth and produces an arc. This shape forms a plane, especially in the forward swing from est. waist high to waist high. 

Players can swing left, right or towards the target line. Each has its' own effect on ball flight depending upon the club face orientation at impact.

Good players consistently control their ball flight by use of their arms (shoulder to elbow) to produce the forward swing, its' resulting plane and how it relates to the target line. 

Dr. Young-Hoo Kwon writes in his 2012 paper "Asessment of Planarity of the Golf Swing Based on the Functional Swing Plane of the Clubhead and Motion Planes of the Body Points in Golf":
 "the arms work somewhat independently from the trunk in a fashion to secure a clean planar motion of the clubhead..." 
"Trunk rotation and linear shoulder motion...tends to promote an off-plane motion of the clubhead (and a spiral swing) by pulling it down past the functional swing plane."
This latter action is common and should be avoided in trying to control ball flight. The spiral action of the club head across the desired line is a primary cause of slicing, pulls or bad hooks. 

Players who do this often think their fix, understandably, is to "stay on plane" but this misguided. 

As Manuel de la Torre states:
"How many of you have tried to stay on the plane? If you swing it, it will be on plane but to do so consciously is nearly impossible. Plus there are 14 of them through the bag."
A better prescription would be to produce the forward swing with the arms and apply the desired forward direction of the club (clubhead). 

The plane will take care of itself.

All for a Better Game,


  1. Thanks for this Rodd, an excellent and thought provoking article. Prompted by your article, I have a few thoughts I'd like to share with you.

    To stay on the plane, many players will attempt to consciously trace the plane line with the right forearm and #3 pressure point. Of course as soon as they do this, the arms (shoulder joint to elbow) no longer exclusively control the forward swing and the swinging motion is destroyed as leverage is applied by the downward thrust of the right forearm. So I fully agree, rather than attempting to stay on-plane, the better option is to swing the club forward with the arms in the desired direction.

    A swinging motion of the clubhead is required to produce a functional 2d plane. Anything other than a swinging motion will generate a 3d clubhead path which is not planar.

    Swinging in-to-out or out-to-in, to produce a draw or a fade, are both non-planar swings involving some manipulation of the clubface with the wrists and forearms clubface to return the shot to the target. As such, I guess neither shots possess a true swinging motion.

    The logical conclusion then is that the same swinging motion must be utilized on all full shots. Would you agree?

    All the best
    Paul Byrne

  2. The swinging motion can be applied to all shots.

    Ball flight can easily be changed by changing pre-swing geometry while using the same motion as straight ball flight.

    1. Thanks for replying, just wanted to confirm what I'd concluded.