Keep Your Swing On Plane - Part One

One of the greatest imperatives in golf is to swing your club "on plane". We have all read about planes until we are bug eyed, however, trying to find one for ourselves remains a challenge for many of us. If there is one subject that raises more controversy in golf forums it is, "what constitutes a plane". This series of articles will give a basis for what and how to swing on a designated practical plane.

Part One of this mini-series will describe a plane you can see for yourself in a practical manner and then we will show how to construct a useful plane. Part Two will show how to use these ideas in a practical sense with some drills shown. Part Three will be the continuation of the drills.

In preparation for Part Two and Three I suggest you visit your local hardware store and acquire three 1.25m lengths of dowel and two cheap, grip thickness, flashlights. You will also need two badminton rackets ñ quality is not an issue here, old ones from the bottom of the wardrobe or alternatively from your local $2 shop will be just fine.

What the Plane Looks Like

In Figures 1, 2 and 3 I am using three pieces of dowel in various positions. Two are in my hands and one is on the floor. Let us imagine the one on the floor represents the flight line the ball is to travel along. In Figure 1 I have the two dowels in my hands on a Vertical Plane, in Figure 2 on a Horizontal plane and in Figure 3 they are on an Inclined Plane.

The Inclined Plane represents how we play our golf because all clubs are made with an inclined angle from the head to the shaft. This allows us to get some leverage with which to hit the ball. We could not hit a ball far with croquet style clubs.

The important relationship in all three scenarios above is that the bottom of the two planes (i.e. dowels) in my hands always intersect with the base line of the plane (dowel) on the floor. Notice that in all three photos the two dowels in my hands are lined up with each other, that is, they are always on plane with each other as well as in their relationship to the base of the plane. For instance, if I picked up the inclined plane dowels and maintained their 'in line' relationship I could walk to a table and place them on its surface

We have 14 clubs in our bag, each of which has a different length and lie angle. So in effect we play golf on many planes as the clubs set up differently to each other.

A taller player is likely to play on a steeper plane than a shorter player due to their physical differences.

Now refer to Animation #1 which shows a simple golfing machine swinging a golf club on a simulated plane board. The board is set up on an "inclined plane". To simulate the different club lengths or players physical heights and what it does to the plane board, all that happens is a change in the board's angle to being steeper or flatter. As players we do this without thinking.

In Figure 4, I show how to run the dowel up your forearm correctly. In Figure 5, I now have both dowels running up both forearms in front of me. Now bend your wrists backwards to make the dowels cross over each other, Figure 6. It is extremely important to pay attention to the right wrist bend in the photos. In Part two we will examine this relationship in depth.

Now take a golfing stance and line up the bottom of the dowels on the flight line rod. You can see that both dowels are on the same plane.

Next, leaving your left arm and dowel stationary, lift your right arm and its dowel. As the right arm lifts we wish to keep the relationship of the left and right dowels on the same plane in line with each other. To enable us to do this make sure that the bottom of the right dowel keeps pointing directly at the base line continuously until the dowel reaches parallel to the ground where it should also be parallel to the flight line. From here on up and back the other end of the dowel will now trace the base line keeping the two dowels on the same plane. If you have completed this task correctly the two dowel will be an extension of each other as shown in Figure 7.

In Part Two we will continue this line of thought with drills to improve our right forearm angle of approach to the ball with both dowels and a simple flashlight drill.

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