The Downstroke Plane: Part Three

These flashlight drills are continuations of those we began in Part One and Two and focus on the downswing motion of the swing.

We are now at the top of our swing. From the top, make a slow down swing and see where the light travels in comparison to the base line.

Situation One: Light Shines Up the Wall

If the light shines outside the line or up the wall then you are too flat and off the necessary plane (Fig 1). It is very likely your right forearm is pointing more horizontally than vertically towards the wall. You need to swing so your right forearm is more vertical in relationship to the base of the flight line – the base of our plane.

Here are the two most likely reasons you may be showing the light up the wall rather than at the base.

  • Your pivot move has thrown the light out there with the hips spinning the shoulders open in a classic "Over the Top" motion
  • Your right wrist bend has increased to throw you off plane

To fix the first problem learn to slide your hips parallel to the flight line a little to give your right elbow room to pass the right hip as your arms drop. Slide and drop, not spin and drop. The spin happens as your brain unconsciously avoids the ensuing collision between right elbow and hip re-routing the elbow out to the side via a hip and shoulder swivel which takes you off plane. So by sliding the hip no more than an inch you will give your right forearm plenty of room to attack the inside aft quadrant of the ball. The feeling of the slide is rather like that of a hula-hoop in that the head remains in the same place and the hips move independently.

To fix the second reason see at what angle your right wrist needs to be bent to keep the light shining on the line. Surprisingly it is the same amount of bend as you had in your set up.

Situation Two: Light Shines at Your Feet

In this situation (Fig 2) the amount of right wrist bend has increased and you end up flat vs the plane we wish to use. Here, you have to learn to feel the right wrist making any sort of movement. The flashlights give you a great visual of the effect any wrist movement has on your swing and will help you to freeze the set up position of the wrist throughout your swing.

If your light is shining on the floor as you swing down, then your right wrist will be flat in relation to your set up angle. This means on the way back to the ball your right forearm will struggle to get in line with the shaft and the shaft will likely be too upright into the impact zone without some major body movements to make good contact. The fix here is to bend the wrist backward until the light is on the base line. From here swing slowly down and see where it goes.

In both cases above, much of the off plane movement comes from changing the amount of right wrist bend at set up. It is therefore important to use your body design and the club's design at the outset as described in Article One to get the desired results (Fig 3).

Warning: It is possible to use the flashlight lights incorrectly and still keep the light on the line however you will look nothing like a golfer, that is, you may have all sorts of bent arms and body angles. So, if you can do this drill in front of a mirror you will make sure that you are not cheating yourself. It is important to still have a relatively straight left arm and shift weight from the left to right and then back again.

The Dowels

Having lifted the dowel into its 'on plane' throwing position we now have to return the dowel so that it arrives on the same plane we started off on. As we swing down our objective is to have the right dowel run back up the left forearm.

Note if we change our right wrist bend this is impossible to achieve for the same reasons as mentioned in the flashlight drill above.

If you maintain the right dowel pointing at the base of the plane line your right forearm will be behind the shaft at impact and so provide great power and support to the shaft which is swinging towards the low point of the arc of your swing. Making this move you will be able to see the dowels coming into the ball from inside the flight line ñ not the outside! You can start to see the arc of the plane (Fig 4).

Unlike the flashlights, the dowels are a bit trickier to get to work. Stick with the dowels and your swing plane will improve as if you master this correctly then when you return to your golf club it will be in much better educated hands.

In Part 4 we will look into the use of Badminton Rackets using the dowel drill. This evolution will show you what is happening to the clubface during some of the same movements and from that we can start to get a good handle on how to control the face of the club at impact.

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