Is a one-plane swing right for you?

Before answering the question, it’s necessary to know exactly what the term “one-plane swing” means. In a one-plane swing (for a right-hander), the left arm’s position at the top of the backswing matches the tilt of the shoulders when viewed looking down the target line. In a two-plane swing, the left arm is typically higher (more upright or vertical). In other words, it’s above the shoulder plane.

The two-plane swing is more common, but the single-plane motion has many advocates. (Some instructors refer to it as a “rotational swing.”) Let’s look at some of the arguments for and against the one-plane swing:

    The case for the one-plane swing

  • It’s simpler and easier to repeat: When done correctly, it’s relatively easy to synchronize the movements of the hips, shoulders, arms and hands in the one-plane swing. No specialized motions – like an abrupt wrist hinge, hip thrust or “dropping” the club onto the plane on the downswing – are required to make an on-plane swing and square the clubface at impact.
  • It produces a consistent draw: Swinging the arms and shoulders on the same plane naturally creates a flatter (more horizontal) swing, with the club arching around the body. This promotes a clubhead path that approaches the ball from inside the target line the essential ingredient to hitting right-to-left shots.
  • Two of history’s greatest ballstrikers were one-planers: Legendary, enigmatic Canadian pro Moe Norman is the epitome of a one-plane swinger. Ben Hogan also utilized a single-plane rotation in his most productive years. If it’s good enough for them, surely the average golfer could benefit from giving it a try.

    The case for the one-plane swing

  • It’s tougher to generate power: Actually, this point is up for debate. Some say that because the left arm remains “connected” to the body, it’s difficult to create a wide, powerful arc in the one-plane swing. Others disagree, arguing that rotational force more than compensates in the swing speed department.
  • Fading the ball is difficult: Most golfers who fade the ball feature an upright, two-plane swing. Many players prefer the fade, especially with the driver, because it’s easier to control than a draw.
  • Most great players have been two-plane swingers: Jack Nicklaus,Sam Snead,Tiger Woods (for most of his career, anyway)… The list of great two-plane swingers is considerably longer than the list of single-plane champions. Of course, that could be attributable to the fact that the two-plane swing is more common and better understood by most teaching pros, explaining why the one-plane swing has never gained wider use.

If you’re curious about the nature of your swing plane, stand with a mirror or glass window to your right and swing a club back to the top. It should be fairly obvious whether you swing on a single plane (left arm matches shoulders) or two separate angles (left arm above shoulders). Because of the differences, see your PGA professional for tips on getting the most from your particular action.