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Women especially find it difficult to understand the concept of the swing plane, but to be as good as Se Ri Pak you have to.
Women especially find it difficult to understand the concept of the swing plane, but to be as good as Se Ri Pak you have to. (Courtesy USGA)

Get to know your swing plane

Karen Palacios-JansenBy Karen Palacios-Jansen,

Professional and low-handicap golfers consider the swing play to be one of the most important concepts in golf. Swing plane directly relates to how straight, high and far you can hit the ball. At the same time, swing plane is one of the most intimating terms for high-handicap women golfers, simply because they're not sure what a swing plane is, let alone what a good one looks like.

To envision a perfect swing plane, imagine a dotted line drawn from the ball, along the clubshaft and up past the grip. This is your swing plane line. As you start your swing, the clubhead goes up the imaginary dotted line and then basically the club turns upside down so that the grip end of club points down to the ground. The club should be parallel to your imaginary dotted line. Your shoulders turn to finish the backswing and then as you start the downswing, the club should drop back on the imaginary dotted line.

High-handicappers, because of poor swing mechanics or misconceptions regarding swing plane, begin their swings by rolling the club away from their bodies on the takeaway, which immediately puts the club under the swing plane or dotted line. From this position, the player can only lift the club to finish the backswing and then come over the top, or above the swing plane on the downswing. From here, all you can do is hit the ball from an outside path, a major cause of slices and pulls.

The key: Stay on plane as much a possible, especially in the beginning of the backswing. If you're on plane at this critical part of the backswing, you're more likely to remain on plane throughout the entire swing.

No one has a perfect swing plane, but good ballstrikers manage to keep the club on plane throughout their swings more often than not. Here's a drill to help you learn the correct swing plane once and for all.

With a short-iron, grip down on the shaft so that the butt end of the club almost touches your belly button. As you swing back, maintain the triangle formed by your hands and forearms by keeping the butt end of the club pointing at your belly until the clubhead points just outside your right foot. An early body turn or an early break of the wrists will destroy the triangle and move the club under the swing plane. If you keep the club pointed at your belly and your triangle intact, your clubface will remain square and remain on plane. Turn your shoulders and finish your backswing.

As you start the downswing, drop your arms so the butt end of the club points away from your belly. This is the correct delivery position, where the clubhead is on plane and approaches the ball from an inside path.

If you're ever off plane on the backswing, you'll be forced to throw the cluhead from the top and the butt end of the club will point back to your belly button. This is the exact opposite of what you want to do. From this position, you'll slice, pull or top the ball.

To sum up the perfect plane, keep the butt end of the club pointing toward your belly on the takeaway and away from your belly on the downswing. You don't have to be perfect, but don't do the opposite.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • belly tip

    moby doug wrote on: Jan 15, 2016

    Easy to follow, effective, tip. thanks.


  • Swing plane

    Renee Palacios wrote on: Aug 21, 2007

    Karen, great explanation about swing plane. Keep up the good work and write more. Thanks