Plane truth

By: Shawn Kelly, Journal Golf Columnist
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The swing plane is defined as “the tilt and direction of travel of the inclined plane of the club shaft.” Unfortunately, the concept is a matter of confusion for many players. For me, that ubiquitous photo of Ben Hogan swinging within a plane of glass gives me a good visual image of the proper swing plane. I could get so technical when describing swing plane it would make your head spin, but let’s just relate the plane of your swing to the travel of your club head for a better understanding of your correct path. When we discussed ball flight laws in columns past, the path was our first concern. The path controls the plane of the swing. If the swing is “inside to out” or “outside to in” your swing plane is said to be “off plane.” Ideally we want to have a path that is “inside to square to back inside” and if this occurs you have a perfect swing plane for your swing. Here are a few drills to help you find your own path and plane. Box drill Stand in front of an empty cardboard box at least three feet long and set the club perpendicular to the middle of the box with club head almost touching. Make some swings and try not to hit the box. If you are swinging and not touching the box, your path is very good. If you hit the box, your swing plane needs some work. Connection drill Take any club and anchor the butt of the grip in your belly button. Swing the club back and forth without letting the club head get behind you or let the anchor disconnect from your belly. The take away will influence your swing plane and thus get you started back correctly. Wall drill Stand with your back against a wall, move away two feet and complete a backswing. If you strike the wall your swing is too far inside the plane. This is the biggest cause for the “over the top” swing. Note a wall can be the netting at the range or the fence in the backyard. From personal experience I wouldn’t practice this in the house unless you are proficient at sheet rock repair. The plane will also control the trajectory of the shot. A flatter plane will produce a lower ball flight and an upright plane will produce a higher ball flight. This is why taller players tend to hit the ball higher than shorter players. However, be careful when trying to change your plane to control trajectory – your natural plane will yield more consistency. The swing plane ideal can be a little tricky to absorb and apply, but with diligent practice you will discover your correct plane and improve your consistency.