I’ve always had quite a flat golf swing, swinging the club more around my body than up and down. I think this is naturally how I made my first swing and it has always stuck. When I’ve been playing a round with a couple of low figure handicapper’s they have mentioned it to me before and it became something I was conscious and worried about. Quite often I also over swing the golf club. I can feel when I do this and quite often if I over swing I hit a bad shot so it is something I have wanted to cut out of my game. I thought this over swing problem may have something to do with having a flat swing.
Around 12 months ago I finally got around to reading Ben Hogan’s famous book ‘Five Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf’. The swing Ben Hogan teaches is what I now know to be called the one plane golf swing. At the top of the back swing the shoulders and arms are at the same angle relative to the ground. The image below demonstrates this nicely.
I thought my swing, and my ideas of how to swing a golf club were pretty similar to what Ben Hogan was teaching so started this season with a positive frame of mind. I have played pretty well all season, overall getting my handicap down from 10 to 8. I played the club championships at the two clubs I am a member at performing well at both. I consider these the two main competitions of the year and so when I went to see Neal Granville I told him I was happy to start trying to make swing changes that I could work on now and all over the winter to be in a great position for next season. Bearing in mind this was only the start of August I thought this gave me a lot of time to practice and get any swing changes working well for me.
Neal knew my concerns about my swing being too flat and so we started working on what I would later learn to be a two plane swing. This is where the shoulders turn a bit flatter and the arms move up higher on the back swing. It felt weird, as any swing change does and I started hitting a lot of funny shots on the range. As things settled down a bit more I was getting very good results with my shorter clubs, but I was having real trouble hitting the longer ones – especially my driver. I was still OK with this though as I knew any change takes a while to get right and bed in. I managed to get a few good scores in as well which was a sign things were going well.
What wasn’t working well though was my back. While my arms and shoulders were doing what they should have been doing for a two-plane swing on the way back, instead of my lower body staying relatively still on the down swing it was moving like it used to which caused a lot of pressure on my lower back. It got to the point where I had to take a few days off practice or take pain killers before a game – generally not a good idea. Although my brain knew my lower body was supposed to stay still and quiet, the old habit was still there and the back pain was stopping me from practicing and trying to put things right.
Then a few things happened – pretty much by chance.
During the week of the US Open I was sitting up in front of my computer trying to watch the golf on a dodgy internet stream. I checked the BBC page for the latest scoreboard and noticed someone had tweeted in ‘Matt Kuchar gets the award for the flattest swing in golf’. Hold on one second – if this guy has a flat swing but is leading the US Open (this was on Friday if I remember correctly) then I need to check it out. The first thought that popped into my head was ‘well if he can make it as a pro with a flat swing then maybe it is good enough for me!’
I found a couple of videos on YouTube, and then found this site called Plane Truth Golf. On their blog they had some great videos going through the one plane and two plane swing. I came to realize that before I naturally had what was close to a one plane swing and what Neal was trying to teach me was the two plane swing. Seeing Matt Kuchar do so well in the first two days of the US Open confirmed to me that my old swing was OK and I felt it would be better to work on improving what I did naturally than try and work on something completely different.
From the Plane Truth Golf web site I found out that they had authored a book called ‘The Plan Truth for Golfers’. I ordered this quickly on Amazon, and had it read within a day of it being delivered. The important thing to note here is that the book (and the web site) cover both the one-plane and two-plane golf swing. They have a couple of recommendations on how to figure out which swing is best for you – but at the end of the day I think you should go with whichever makes the most sense to your body and brain.
I went back to Neal and asked him to also take a look at the book, and get his thoughts. He was happy to help me with the one-plane swing and thought it made a lot more sense for me to choose a swing method that I was happy with rather than being dictated something.
Although I thought my natural swing was close to a single plane swing there are a lot of nuisances and small parts I have been working on. Switching back to a more flat swing started to improve my lower back straight away and I’ve been hitting the ball well with all my clubs.
Whenever you make a swing change, or buy a new golf club – you always have a honeymoon period where everything feels great. This happened to me with a peak of shooting gross 74, nett 65 – matching my personal best gross score. Since then though I’ve not been hitting the ball quite as well – but I’m persevering through it. I know the one plane golf swing is for me.
What do you know about golf swing planes? Are you a one plane or two plane swinger?