A golf swing is a rotational movement where the golfer turns his or her body so that the golf club moves around the body in a circular action.
This movement allows the golfer to swing the golf club at high speed but still be in control to strike the golf ball correctly and in the right direction. The circle that the club head follows around the body during the swing is called the ‘swing plane’. The golf club can be swung around the body on either one plane (one circle) or two planes (two circles).
A one plane swing is a swing that travels as closely as possible on one circle around the body, backwards and forwards. This is a swing dominated by the hips and shoulders, is very rotational and feels very ‘flat’ or low at the top of the backswing. The body and arms stay together during this swing and the bodyweight stays as central as possible throughout the motion.
A two plane swing is a swing that travels in two slightly different circles around the body. This swing uses the arms more to control the golf club and the weight shifts more, both backwards and forwards during the swing. At the midway point in the backswing, the arms lift the club up to the top of the backswing slightly away from the body and then drop back down again before the body turns into the ball. The body weight moves from middle to back foot during the backswing and then transfers aggressively to the front foot during the forward swing.
The main differences between the two types of golf swing can be seen when the golfer reaches the end of the backswing and begins the downswing into the golf ball. To see these movements and which style of swing you may have, stand in front of a mirror and position yourself so that you are sideways on. The mirror should be positioned to the right hand side of a right handed golfer and left for a left handed golfer. This is what is referred to as a ‘down the line’ view.
One plane swing - After the backswing has been made, the hands will have travelled around the body so that they are behind the golfer's shoulders and quite low when viewing the backswing in the mirror. The front arm will be positioned across the same line as the top of the shoulders. The club will be pointing to the left of the target (for right handed golfers) in the mirror.
Two plane swing - After the backswing has been made, the hands will be directly above the shoulders in the mirror. The front arm will be pointing upwards on a steeper angle than a line across the top of the shoulders. The club will be pointing more towards the target in the reflection and may even be slightly to the right of the target (for right handed golfers).
One plane swing - The first movement down to the ball from the backswing position will be a straight turn of the hips and shoulders, dragging the arms and club down to the ball.
Two plane swing - The first movement from the backswing position will be a sideways hip movement where the bodyweight will move directly towards the target. The arms will then drop down towards the hips before the body turns towards the golf ball.
Once the swing type is identified, it is important to work with it to improve rather than change. The current swing is natural and there are no right or wrong styles of swing so maximize what is already there and any changes will be quicker and more comfortable in the long term.