The Perfect Golf Swing Plane: Here’s How You Can Do It
(Including Comparison Between One and Two Swing Plane)
In my years as a golf instructor, I have tried to take complicated ideas and make them easy to use for the amateur.
To take the confusion and turn it into understanding is when I see golfers excel.
This guide contains the steps to building the perfect golf swing plane to reduce mistakes and guarantee solid contact with the golf ball.
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Table Of Contents
What is the Golf Swing Plane?
Every weekend when I turn the TV on to watch the PGA, I hear commentators continue to talk about the importance of having the correct swing plane.
Without the proper context the amateur may immediately begin to wonder if their swing is on the right plane.
This worry usually ends with a trip to the driving range where they tinker with their swing, see terrible results and become discouraged.
This is why understanding the importance of the golf swing plane is key.
Intro to Swing Plane
In 1957, golfing great Ben Hogan introduced the term “swing plane” in his must-read book, “Five Lessons; The Modern Fundamentals of Golf”. Swing plane impacts the trajectory and the direction of where your golf ball will ultimately land.
Do this exercise: in your mind, take an imaginary practice swing following your club back and then through the ball. Now repeat that image but this time pretend the club head is drawing a large flat circle around your body when you swing. The angle and path of your club as it goes back and through is your swing plane.
Ben Hogan is considered the first professional golfer to tackle the fundamentals of the one-plane swing.
With his "Five Lessons" book written in 1957, Hogan's tips have stood up over time. Hogan wanted golfers to visualize their swing plane as a pane of glass that rested atop their back shoulder. The backswing should remain parallel to the glass as the swing reaches the apex. Hogan's tip was to visualize never crossing the plane and breaking the glass with either the backswing or the downswing.
Constructing the correct backswing is crucial for finding the proper plane. Here's how to fine-tune and sand away any rough edges from your takeaway.
One of the main issues I see with amateurs is that the arms are far too active in the backswing. When you address the golf ball, imagine that there is an electric wire about eight inches in front of your waist. When you bring the club back, your arms should never touch that electric wire.
For those amateurs that have issues with their takeaway, this is a perfect tip for getting the arms to calm down and carry the backswing with a more accessible path to getting on a plane.
The Two Main Types of Swing Planes
Now that you know what a swing plane is, I feel it’s important to know that there are two types of swing planes.
A one-plane swing is an action of taking the club back and through the golf ball with simplicity. This type of swing is a favorite of coaches trying to teach fundamentals to rookies because the rotation is easily repeated.
The two-plane swing is trickier for the amateur to grasp. Pros adopt the two-plane swing because it generates higher swing speed and longer distances on the golf ball after impact. But the body doesn’t just go back and through the golf ball. Instead, the arms go more upright on the backswing, and the club must adjust on the downswing to become “on plane.”
Each golfer is unique. Our bodies have different heights and weights. Our golf clubs have shafts that may measure longer, or shorter, than the standard lengths. These factors play a huge part in our swing planes. If you are 5'4" don't try to emulate Dustin Johnson who is 6'4." Johnson's clubs are longer than what you should be using. Therefore, his swing plane will be different than yours. Find the plane that works best for you.
One Plane Swing
The body works together to rotate away from the golf ball and then back through to impact. Your arms work with your shoulders to take away the club, and then your hips move away from the golf ball. Once the body is “coiled,” then the opposite move occurs.
The hips bring the arms back through on the same plane as the backswing.
If you want to reduce the growing pains of transitioning into a one-plane swing then take your 3, 4, and even 5-iron and replace them with hybrids. The ability of the hybrid to easily lift the ball in the air gives you length and consistency when grinding through swing changes.
The flatter, one-plane swing that has been a feature of PGA pros like Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, and Zach Johnson promote a more natural approach to getting your golf club on plane and through the golf ball. With a centered, stable foundation, I believe that the one-plane swing works well for amateurs who have numerous issues and are looking for a more simplistic feel for their swing. So how do you start building a one-plane swing?
Simple and easy to repeat, the one-plane swing allows for the hands, arms, shoulders, and hips to work as one unit back and through the golf ball.
There isn’t a complicated symphony of movements to get to the ball like in most two-plane approaches. When it works, the one-plane swing will produce gorgeous draws due to the flatter swing that rotates around the torso.
Although some golfers shy away from the firm grip needed for the one-plane approach, the rotation around the center of the body is more natural because there isn’t the turning of the upper body with the need hip and leg motion.
Many find that for strong golfers, there is a noticeable loss in shot length with the one-plane approach.
If you don’t regularly hit long off the tee, then this isn’t a concern. The one-plane swing approach also makes it difficult to fade the golf ball. For the golfer looking for more versatility with their game, I always let them know that the one-plane method, while repeatable and easy to adopt, will stunt the advanced portions of their game.
Grabbing a hula hoop can have you mastering the feel of the one-plane method in no time. It is a terrific visual aid for the range and allows you to see the path of a one-plane swing.
The drill is simple. Take two stakes and set them into the ground. Prop the hula hoop at an angle along your swing path. As you take practice swings, follow the path set by the hula hoop through the swing to see the plane.
The hula hoop will help golfers who are starting too steep with their backswings and creating a problematic two-plane approach that will leave them struggling to get back to the golf ball consistently.
Once you get the rhythm of the swing with the hula hoop, grab a blindfold and hit shots. Try to create the path of the hula hoop with each shot. Players who are too flat with their backswing will find themselves hitting far too many “fat” shots where the club strikes the ground before the golf ball.
"Feeling" the One Plane Swing
If you want to know what the one plane swing feels like then think of the word “round.”
A one-plane swing uses your arms to round your body. As you begin your backswing, freeze your body.
Your club and right arm (or left arm if you are swinging left-handed) should be aligned and at an angle that points in a straight path back toward an area outside the golf ball.
Slowly return the club to the golf ball, feeling the smooth rotation of the body through impact. Repeat this movement to understand the feeling of a one-plane swing better.
Another vital exercise to understand for feeling the proper one-plane swing is the correct rotation of the body. Yes, the arms and shoulders do work in unison, but the body must adequately rotate away from the golf ball. This occurs while staying centered and avoiding the weight shifts from one side of the body to the other that many golf coaches encourage.
To hone the rotation of the one-plane swing, use this drill:
First, lose the golf club and use just your arms as a guide. Address the ball as you usually would, let your arms drop as they would on a proper address.
Next, start your swing but imagine a rod that goes down your spine and anchors you into the ground.
You want to complete your swing on plane while rotating back, keeping your head in position, and then follow through around the rod. This simple takeaway will keep your body able to produce consistent one-plane swings.
Bryson DeChambeau, Science & One-Plane Swings
Second-year PGA professional Bryson DeChambeau is a fan of science. He majored in physics at SMU where he won the 2015 NCAA Individual title in golf. After reading a book titled “The Golfing Machine” DeChambeau adopted the one-plane swing. The reason was simple; he believed the one-plane was scientifically the best way for him to reach his potential as a professional golfer.
Using computer imagery to follow his swing path, DeChambeau continually checks that his swing stays on the 70-degree plane he finds works best for him. The passion for science has also spilled onto DeChambeau calculating the force he needs for a putt’s ideal speed and the distance a ball will carry in perfect conditions based on the height of his backswing.
After DeChambeau adopted the philosophy written in “The Golfing Machine,” he found that his one-plane swing became challenging to repeat. The more he practiced and honed the swing path, the worse his ball flight became. Lacking consistency, DeChambeau thought about abandoning the one-plane swing altogether.
With help, DeChambeau soon discovered the problem. His clubs were of varying lengths. So, he crafted a set where all the clubs measured 37.5” in length.
At his first test of the new irons, DeChambeau knocked a 205-yard approach shot with a 5-iron to within inches of the hole. The one-length clubs were a success.
Using them on tour, DeChambeau posted his first ever victory on the PGA Tour during his rookie season by winning the 2017 John Deere Classic. He has two top-ten finishes in 2018.
DeChambeau’s Five Steps to Perfect One-Plane Swings
If you are right-handed, place the club’s grip in the center of your palm, then wrap your fingers around the shaft. You should feel more locked, fastened hold on the golf club. Placing thicker golf grips on your clubs also helps alleviate any problems with adopting this grip.
Taking this tip from “The Golfing Machine,” DeChambeau presses his hands forward and moves weight to his right foot before he begins his backswing. This “trigger,” as DeChambeau calls it, helps create a repeatable rhythm to the one-plane swing.
You want your club to follow the loop throughout the swing. Hands, arms, and club will never leave the circle’s path. This imaginary circle is a perfect visualization technique for the short game too. Use it next time you are making bunker shots, chips and pitch shots to the green.
Maintaining a flat hand at the top of your backswing is essential for keeping the one-plane swing on path and preventing errant shots. When your club is at the apex of your backswing your wrist should not be broken but rather look like a straight line from your knuckles down along your wrist and arm without any break.
The final tip for honing your one-plane swing is to rotate your body around a center point rather than shifting weight from one side to another. It is incredibly hard to create a repeatable one-plane swing if you are moving laterally with your hips and shoulders. Rotation is the key to a tremendous one-plane swing. Keeping your head in the same position throughout the swing and beyond impact, this technique keeps the one-plane swing clean and without the need for constant adjustment.
Two-Plane Swing: Follow the Pros
Most golfers that use the two-plane approach are PGA Tour professionals that are commonly referred to having « homegrown swings ».
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is the perfect example of a golfer that uses an unorthodox two-plane swing that has found results.
Watson takes his hands high on the backswing, adjusts his feet as he moves the club onto another plane during the downswing and through impact.
It is a sight that makes golf coaches go insane, but with noticeable positive results. What are the merits of the two-plane approach?
Two Plane Swing
The two-plane swing is what you see when you watch Jack Nicklaus.
Standing closer to the golf ball, the golfer swings upright, taking the left arm away from being on plane with the shoulders. The learning curve of the two-plane swing is broader because the body must work to slide the club back “on path” to the golf ball.
As the risk is higher with the two-plane swing, the reward comes with distinct advantages. Golfers who adopt this swing believe that the result is higher accuracy and a more accurate ball flight.
Implementing the two-plane swing takes hours and hours of practice. Efficiency on the range is critical when working on the integration of the swing with the body.
Start slowly with simple swings that focus on your arms and the position of your shaft as it ascends to the top of your backswing. Go slow at first then gradually pick up speed. As it says on the back of your shampoo bottle this drill must follow the "rinse and repeat" instruction.
Come back the next day and duplicate the building of tempo. You must allow your muscles to learn the swing path is what's most important with this drill.
Here’s a quick way to find out your current swing plane approach.
Find a large mirror in your home. Stand with your swing’s back shoulder to the mirror. Now pretend to swing a club and hold your arms when you get to the top of the swing.
For right-handers, if your left arm matches the shoulders and a distinct straight line can be traced from your hand through the shoulder, then you are a one-plane swinger. If you find your left arm is higher than your shoulder line, then you are a two-plane adopter.
The two-time major winner suggests looking up at impact and following the blur of the golf club as it tracks around your body.
The drill is quite simple and necessary when you feel yourself becoming loose with your swing and losing shots to the left or right of your intended target.
Before you begin this drill, find a central target on the range where you want to direct the golf ball.
Starting with half swings, you want to follow the head of the golf club after impact. The goal is for the club head to follow the line to the target. Miller calls this the “blur” drill because you won’t see the club head clearly, but the “blur” should be along the target line. Use a golf training aid if you can’t get the blur near the target line.
If you find the “blur” away in either direction of the target, then you’ll discover your shots will head in that same direction. After using the half swings to find your rhythm, begin taking full swings to feel what the swing will look like on the golf course.
The Most Interesting Two-Swing Plane, Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk has one of the most unique swings on the PGA Tour. Some have called it awkward or a coach’s worst nightmare, but for others, it is the quintessential two-plane swing to study.
The fundamental two-plane swing will have a plane on the backswing and then an adjustment to another plane for the downswing. When looking at Furyk’s swing, you can quickly detect this pattern. The reason it works for Furyk is that he can simply repeat the action on every swing.
At address, Furyk keeps his hands low and is over the golf ball more than most golfers. On his takeaway, his hips slide to the right, and the club goes directly into the air. It’s the most fascinating aspect of his swing. Inexplicably, the butt of his club points at his shoes at the apex of the backswing.
When Furyk begins the downswing, his hips slide back to the left to clear a path for the club. His hands and arms drop the club onto another plane. His body remains ahead of the club at impact.
For golf experts, this is why Furyk remains successful. There is no pulling or twisting to the golf ball that creates poorly hit slices. The up-and-out two-plane pattern allows the golf club to fall easily onto a clean path to the golf ball for consistent contact.
To mimic Furyk’s style, work on keeping the clubhead outside your grip on the backswing, rotate with similar hip-shifting and then when you turn into the ball allow the club to follow an outside path to impact.
Two-Plane Swing: Is It For You?
Implementing the two-plane approach takes much more dedication than the one-plane path.
Multiple elements contribute to timing the perfect two-plane swing. But the benefits are more significant if you can achieve consistency.
PGA pros feel that the two plane approach allows for elevated swing speed and additional distance off the tee.
If you are a powerful individual who finds that their tee shots go much further than the group you play with each weekend, then a two-plane swing approach could unlock further gains in your game.
Others argue that the fundamentals associated with the two-plane swing are more natural and less restrictive than the one-plane centered method.
The two-plane is harder than the one-plane method for most amateurs.
Each section of the body that is activated in delayed and particular ways, unlike the one-plane where much of the swing uses an incorporated motion.
For advanced golfers, the two plane swing works better because it gives the individual more control over their shots.
When working on the two-plane swing, one mistake that most amateurs tend to make is on the downswing. They get stuck and smother the golf ball, resulting in a shot that most of the time gets more ground than the ball at impact.
To prevent this, we want to work on the proper sweep that allows for solid contact and follow through.
The way we feel this is with the use of a broom. If you were to sweep something off the ground using a similar motion of the golf swing, you would find yourself using an extended arc that lifted the item from the ground.
If you stayed down too long with the broom, your unwanted item would not go anywhere. Same is true when hitting the golf ball. We don't want to stay down over the ball for too long at impact.
Take a few "practice" swings as you would typically use a broom. Feel how the left shoulder raises and the hips slide after impact to open up the arc to sweep the item away. Now take your club and try to similarly sweep the golf ball at impact using the same motion of opening the hips and raising the shoulder to provide natural arc in your two-plane swing.
How to "Feel" the Two-Plane Swing
Standing closer to the ball and more upright is the perfect stance for feeling the two-plane swing. When bringing the club back notice the steeper angle of the club.
If you are doing this correctly, the butt end of the shaft should be pointing directly inside the golf ball when you reach 75% of your backswing.
Once you hit the top of the backswing, freeze your body as you did in the one-plane drill.
At this point, your body becomes far more involved in the swing. As the club descends onto the golf ball, your arms must get flatter to strike the ball correctly. To do this, you must move your hips in the direction of the ball so that the club can get the proper in-to-out path needed for consistent contact. Keep your arms and hips steady as they need to be in unison as they drive themselves to the golf ball.
As you repeat this exercise, pay attention to the path of the club as it goes up on the backswing and then the path it must take on the downswing to get back to the golf ball. This fundamental is the reason why it is named the two-plane swing.
Honing the two-plane sequence is dependent on making sure that your swing stays on plane from round-to-round. A great way to reignite that muscle memory is to take a flotation device for children known as a "floatie" out to the range.
For right-handers, inflate the "floatie" and place it above your right elbow on the bottom part of the bicep.
When you begin your backswing, feel how the device goes against your body. If it is not touching at all, then your swing is too far outside at the start and will struggle to find the plane. The opposite is exact if you feel the device compressing against your body. This means you are starting too far inside.
To be on plane, the device should stay reasonably close to what it feels like when you first place it against your torso throughout the swing.
Rhythm is everything in the two-plane swing.
From the upright takeaway to the movement of the club into the plane and then finally, the downswing on the correct path to impact leaves much to account for in the two-plane swing. When you find your swing is breaking down, perhaps your fundamentals are still sound, but your rhythm is slightly off creating the opening for mistimed hits and weaker contact of the golf ball.
When this happens, I like to go to the range with my golf bag and lay a golf club pointing down the range perpendicular to the golf ball. The club should be at the typical distance that your feet would be at address from the ball.
Take your normal stance. Leave your left foot touching the club, then move your right foot in front of the line with your heel touching the shaft. Your feet should be significantly staggered at this point.
Take your club and choke down on the club until the butt end of the club rests against your stomach. When you turn away from the golf ball, feel that stability over your right leg. Your right hip should turn enough to feel the power in your backswing.
Once you have an idea of that feeling, move your right foot back to normal address behind the shaft of the club. Take swings with that feeling of creating the stable right knee, and the slight right hip turn away from the golf ball.
You’ll find yourself gaining strength and confidence with each focused swing using this technique to relocating your rhythm.
Now It's Your Turn
We hope you liked this article. The Swing Plane is usually one of these mystery things about golf.
It is often hard to understand what it is and how you can use it – let alone the difference between the one and two plane swing.
We hope this article brought some clarifications and will allow you to be a better player next time you hit the golf course.