Getting a swing “on plane” is a phrase many amateurs hear regularly. That’s because staying on plane is an easy way to a quality swing.
Rob Horak, the Director of Instruction at Midvale Country Club, can help make that happen.
The best way to check if your swing is on plane is a segmented swing drill. Take a normal swing, but stop with the hands about waist high. Horak says the arms should be in the shape of an “L”. It’s also important to check the direction of the club’s butt end.
“We should see our shaft angle pointing somewhere close to the golf ball,” Horak says.
If the club is too vertical or horizontal, it would be considered “off plane” and becomes difficult to properly return to the ball for impact.
Horak says to continue backswing to completion just by turning the shoulders from that point. On the way back down, there are two more checks if the swing is being kept on the same plane.
“About halfway down we’re going to see our shaft bisect our bicep. A little further down, we’ll see the shaft line up with our right forearm,” Horak says. “From that point down, the shaft just becomes an extension of our right arm with a release to the golf ball.”
There is some margin of error for the swing plane. Every player is not going to have the same one. Someone who stands closer to the ball at address will have a plane that’s more vertical. Someone who stands further away will be more horizontal.
Horak relies on the Y to L to Y drill to hone swing plane. When a player stands next to the ball at address, the arms and the club form a “Y”. As mentioned above, an on plane swing will leave the arms in the shape of an “L” halfway up the backswing. When done correctly, the arms should again be in a “Y” at impact.
Pro players will often be seen on TV rehearsing the first segment of their backswing. Sometimes, it may be in preparation for controlled movement on a shot. An incorrect takeaway can properly and purposely produce a fade or draw.
Either way, Horak says those Tour players are essentially giving themselves a goal.
“Whether it’s a wrist set or where they want the club to go, it’s just a muscle memory to give you something to hit at as you’re making your real swing,” he says.
While Horak teaches the swing plane step by step, he wants it to become components of a fluid motion that is our golf swing. The arm and hand motion is just a reaction to what the body is doing. Centrifugal force is the final factor that takes the club into impact.
Nothing difficult. Nothing complicated. Just back and through.
“I think the simplest machines are those with the fewest moving parts,” Horak says. “If I can make a swing back and swing through on a very similar plane, it’s going to be more repeatable day in and day out.”