Plane Talk: An Interview with Chuck Evans

Following on with the series on The Plane, this month we bring you a chat with Chuck Evans, who holds a Doctorate in The Golfing Machine and is head of the World Golf Institute.

Paul: Why is swinging On Plane an imperative of a good golf shot?

Chuck Evans: The Plane is "The Boss" and is the heart and soul of the golf stroke. But what is the Plane? It is not Hogan's plane of glass, that's only one plane angle variation. You can use any plane angle you choose and you can shift from any plane angle to another as long as the base of the plane does not change.

Imagine the slanted roof of a house with a gutter at the base of it. The roof is a plane angle and the gutter is the base of the plane. Whatever plane angle you decide to shift to, if any, the important part is that the clubshaft lays full length on this tilted plane. The Plane is the one thing in a golf stroke that everything else must comply with. The plane does not comply with anything or anybody, it is there and unless you operate according to that plane the heart and soul of the game is gone.

Off Plane motions create shanking, bent left wrist syndrome, loss of power, compression leakage, and a host of undesirable ñ ungolflike movements.

Paul: People of different physical attributes can swing on different planes. Is there a way to categorise different planes?

Chuck Evans: Again, it is the player's choice of which plane angle they want to execute their stroke. Nick Price for example uses what we refer to as a "Double Shift" stroke. He starts the club back on the original angle the clubshaft was at address. At approximately waist high he then shifts to a steeper plane angle and continues on this angle to the top of the stroke. In the start down he re-rotates ñ a counter clockwise movement of the hands and club ñ and flattens the plane angle until he gets down to the original start up angle. We call this a "Double Shift". It is the third hardest to do in terms of simplicity.

Adam Scott on the other hand uses a "Single Shift". At the start of the backstroke he immediately uses what we call a "start up swivel" which moves the hands and sweet spot off the original plane angle to a much steeper one ñ a "Turned Shoulder Plane" and keeps his hands and sweet spot on this steeper angle all the way to the top of his stroke.

In the start down he then shifts to a much lower plane angle ñ "Elbow Plane". This "Single Shift" is the second easiest to do and when Tiger was really hitting it great used this procedure also. Another player that uses the "Single Shift" is Annika Sorenstam. Interestingly enough, Annika was trained through the Swedish Golf Federation which Pia Neilson headed up.

Pia was the second female instructor to be an Authorised Instructor of The Golfing Machine.

Paul: Is it possible to start on one plane and end up on another? Jim Furyk comes to mind.

Chuck Evans: As we've discussed in the previous questions, it is not only possible but is generally acceptable. Iron Byron even has a plane angle shift! What is not taught is the simplest version, no plane shift. In this, you simply move the club up and back, down and out on the same plane angle.

Any plane angle shift is dangerous, the less the player has the better off they will be.

Paul: If a player is shifting planes, what is their key objective through out the back and down swing?

Chuck Evans: Whatever plane angle you decide to move the club on must obey the geometric laws that govern not only the golf stroke, but everything else we do in normal everyday life.

First, the club must lie full length on this tilted plane angle, not just the clubhead or the hands, but the full clubshaft. Secondly the right forearm must be in a supporting role for the clubshaft ñ in line with the shaft. Third, no matter what plane angle you shift to whichever end of the club is nearest the ground must also point at the base of the plane. If neither end is closer then the clubshaft must be horizontal to the ground and parallel to the base line.

Paul: The late Moe Norman has a great deal of fans on What in your opinion did he do to make him such an accurate ball striker?

Chuck Evans: I knew Moe for close to 30 years and during that time we had several conversations about his game and his "procedure". Moe was a pure "Hitter" in his golf stroke, as are and there are several keys to his stroke.

* He moved as few things as possible in the smallest amount of space.
* He used what we refer to as an "Angled Hinge" motion of the clubface ñ a "No Roll" hinge action. In words ñ the clubface stayed looking at the ball so there was no clubface rotation or timing issues.
* He used his right forearm and right shoulder to drive (or push) the club through Impact.

Paul: Is his swing for everyone?

Chuck Evans: Years ago, when we first met, I was in Moe's group playing in a tournament in the Florida "winter tour series". After playing together in a couple of these events I said to Moe, "teach me how to swing like you". He replied, "swing like you, not like Moe".

It took me a few years to fully comprehend what he meant. I first thought he was politely telling me to take a hike and go figure it out for myself, then I realised that what he actually meant, was no one can completely duplicate the motion of another player. We all have certain restrictions in our strokes and what one player can do physically or mentally another player may not.

This is evident today with teachers attempting to teach Moe's procedure. There have been no players to date that have had the success of Moe Norman! There are no players that have won any tour events using Moe's procedure because they cannot duplicate precisely what he did. There are players that say they use Moe's procedure but none of them actually do. They use variations of what they think Moe did.

People have tried to emulate Hogan, Nicklaus, Tiger, Snead, Nelson, and a host of others but they will all fail. The only way a player can exactly duplicate another player is to have:

* The same physical structure and flexibility
* The same mind set
* The same personality style

I asked Moe once if he had ever heard of Homer Kelley and he replied, "Yes, the Golfing Machine ñ he has it figured out". Moe was as pure an example of Hitting ñ as defined by Mr Kelley ñ as any player that has ever played this great game. His procedure is outlined in Mr Kelley's little book and with the exception of his unique set up can be catalogued through the book. Mr Kelley may have been the "original" Moe Norman. Disregarding the wide stance and out stretched arms, their two motions was almost identical. Moe got the right forearm and clubshaft in one line by stretching out his arms, Mr Kelley did it simply bending the right elbow.

Paul: Plenty to think about there Chuck and thanks very much for some great grey matter material. With a bit of luck we will have to get you down under for a get together with some iseekers soon.

Chuck Evans: Thanks, I look forward to it.

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