What Is A One Plane Golf Swing And How To Decide If It Is The Correct Method For A Senior Golfer To Use

Swing plane describes the path and the angle of the club shaft as it moves around your body when you swing.

If you swing on one plane you will tend to have a more bent over spine angle at set up and during your swing. You will stand further away from the ball than you would using a two plane method. The stance width will be wider than that of a two plane swing, to provide a good base for the aggressive torso rotation of this method. The left arm will look more snug to the body on a one plane takeaway and the right elbow will move up and behind the body more than the movement seen on a two plane swing. The shaft of the club will be parallel to the target line but more on the inside than the position displayed by a two plane golfer.

Golfers swinging on a one plane swing rotate their shoulders more steeply than those using a two plane method and their arms swing up on to the same plane as their shoulders. One plane golfers have a more rotary movement and less lateral weight shift to the right (right handed golfers) than two planers, so the weight will stay more centred and the backswing will feel lower and deeper.

As the club is being swung more around the body with this method, the left arm does not disconnect from the chest and as a result, the left arm will look parallel to the shoulders at the top of the swing and will not look as high as the position displayed by a two plane golfer.

On the downswing, a one plane golfer will have their right forearm and the club on plane before the strike and their body will continue to rotate hard through the strike and into the finish. The club will move back to the inside early on the follow through and the shoulders will unwind to finish aiming left of the target – for a one plane golfer the more the shoulders rotate left, the better!

Try this drill to determine whether you are suited more to a one plane or two plane golf swing. First, stand further away from the ball, bend over and hold your driver like a hockey stick. Swing the club around you on a flat plane and hit some golf balls. Once you have done this, stand more upright and hold your driver with your usual grip. Swing back and then push your hips towards the ball before you swing your arms through.

If you hit better shots with the hockey style swing, you are probably a a one planer. If you hit better shots from the more upright position, you are likely to be a two planer.

What is a One Plane Golf Swing and How to Decide If Correct Method for Me?

What is a One Plane Golf Swing and How to Decide If Correct Method for Me?

If you watch golf instruction on TV, or if you read golf tips online and in magazines, you have probably heard the term 'one plane swing'. This is often used without much thought, as it is a common term in golf instruction circles. But what does it mean? What is a swing plane, and why is it important to know how many you have? For a beginning golfer, this discussion can quickly become rather complicated.

In this article, we are going to walk through the topic of the one plane swing from start to finish. By the time you are done reading this piece, you should have a very clear understanding of the one plane swing. Does that mean you have to use one in your own game? Not necessarily – the one plane swing is not for everyone. Trying it out for yourself on the range is a good idea before you decide whether or not you're going to stick with it in the long run.

As you might guess, the other option for your golf swing is to make a two plane swing. We will get more into the differences between these techniques later in the article. However, it can be noted early on that most professional golfers opt for a two plane swing. Swinging on two planes is simply more common than sticking with the one plane approach, so it probably isn't a surprise that most of the world's top golfers fall into this category. With that said, there have been plenty of examples of one plane players making it to the top of the golf world. This is not a case of one option being 'better' than the other – they can both work beautifully when used properly.

Once you learn how to spot a one plane swing vs a two plane swing, you will want to avoid the temptation to just copy your favorite golfer from the PGA Tour. It doesn't really matter what kind of swing your favorite player happens to use – the only thing that matters is figuring out which kind of swing is going to be your best bet. You probably don't have that much in common with your favorite player, so forget about copying anyone else and stick only to what is going to serve you well for years to come.

All of the content below is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Spotting a One Plane Swing

Spotting a One Plane Swing

Many golfers don't have much knowledge when it comes to the technical side of the game. And, to be sure, there is nothing wrong with that at all. If you prefer to just have fun on the links without thinking too much about what you are doing in the swing, that is just fine. Golf is meant to be fun, and you should enjoy it any way you can. However, if you have aspirations of improving your play, it would be wise to learn at least a little bit about how the swing works.

One of the basics you can learn is the difference between a one plane and two plane swing. In a one plane swing, the angle of the left arm at the top of the swing is going to match up with the angle set by the shoulders. When viewed from behind, the left arm will completely cover up the shoulders, and the club will be on the same plane as well. Everything will be working together, and there will be very few moving parts. When executed properly, a one plane swing looks impressively simple, and it is easy to repeat over and over again.

You can probably guess that a two plane swing is going to look quite a bit different. At the top, the shoulders will be at one angle, while the left arm will be quite a bit steeper. If viewing from behind again, you will be able to see the right shoulder of a player using a two plane swing when he or she reaches the top. Also, the right elbow will be farther up and away from the side of the player with this kind of swing. Inherently, the two plane swing is more complicated than the one plane move, as there are more moving parts to get right. Everything needs to come together and line up nicely at impact, which may or may not happen depending on the quality of the downswing.

As a fun exercise, work on spotting one plane golf swings the next time you watch some golf on TV. At first, it will be a bit difficult. You might even have to pause your TV or watch in slow-motion to figure out which players on using a one plane move, and which are using two planes. However, after a period of time spent paying attention to this point, spotting these different types of swings will actually become quite easy. You won't need to pause the TV at all, and you might even be able to guess ahead of time just based on the players' setup position.

The reason it is helpful to watch for one plane swings is that you will be able to get comfortable with what the swing looks like – and by extension, what is probably feels like. While you don't want to try to imitate the swing of another golfer completely, it is always good to have a frame of reference when working on changes of your own. Once you see how another golfer is able to swing the club along a single plane, you will have a much better chance of repeating a similar action in your game.

Giving It a Try

Giving It a Try

The wonderful thing about golf is that it is a game filled with trial and error. You don't have to sit back and wonder whether or not something would work for you in your game – you can just get out there and give it a try. Range balls are not expensive, and there is always something to be learned during a practice session even if the swing change you are trying doesn't work out. So, with that in mind, your next step related to the one plane swing is simply to head to the range and go for it.

To help you give this experiment the best possible chance at success, we have highlighted a number of tips below.

  • Move back slightly from the ball. When taking your stance over the ball with a one plane swing, you want to stand slightly farther away than you would when using a two plane approach. The reason is simple – you are going to make a flatter swing, and you need more room for that flatter motion to come through impact. If you were to stand just as close to the ball as you do with a two plane swing, there would not be enough space between your body and the ball for the club to fit. This shouldn't be a dramatic adjustment, but you should move back an inch or two at least to start. From there, you can experiment until you find the perfect position for your feet when using a one plane swing.
  • Add some tilt to your hips. Since you are farther away from the ball, you will need to find a way to still reach the ball at address, and at impact. The best way to do this is to increase the tilt in your hips when taking your stance. Rather than hunching over by bending your back, you should tilt from the hips and keep your spine as straight as possible. This adjustment is going to put your shoulders on an excellent plane which you can then attempt to match with your left arm during the backswing. Players who use two plane swings tend to stand up rather vertically at address, but that is not the right way to go with this type of swing.
  • An extremely quiet takeaway. There should be very little happening in your takeaway when using a one plane swing. Your hands and wrists should not be influencing the club in any meaningful way – your hands should just be along for the ride while you turn your shoulders away from the target. Many two plane golfers use their hands early in the action to set the club, but doing so in this case would cause problems. The club would become too vertical, and you would have no chance to stay on the single plane throughout the swing. Keep your hands out of the action, focus on rotation, and keep everything working together nicely.
  • Chin up, shoulder down. While all of the tips we are providing in this section should be considered important, this might just be the biggest one of them all. As you make your backswing, you should be focused on keeping your chin up while your left shoulder moves down. This combination will allow you to ride the flat plane you need to stay on in order to produce a one plane swing. Your chin should be up away from your chest at address, and your left shoulder should move down under the chin as you rotate back. Many golfers go wrong on this point as they bury their chin into their chest at address, thinking that it is necessary to 'keep their head down'. Yes, you want to keep your head down in the swing, but that doesn't mean it has to be forced down in the way of other moving parts. Set your head in a neutral position with your chin away from your chest and leave it there throughout the swinging action.
  • Full body rotation on the way through. If you make it through the backswing successfully on a single plane, the last piece of this puzzle is to move through the ball properly. To do so, you are going to need to rotate your entire body aggressively toward the target. Your hips should get things started right from the top, but it shouldn't be long before everything else comes through. Since your left arm is across your shoulders at the top, you will feel 'connected' and in sync on your way down to the ball. This is the simplicity of the one plane swing that makes it so appealing to so many players. Two plane golfers often have trouble matching up their upper body with their lower body, but no such issues should plague you with this technique. As long as you commit to your rotation through the ball and don't give up on the swing prematurely, great results should be just around the corner.

There is a lot of information included in this section. There is no need to let it overwhelm you, however, as you can just work through it piece by piece until the entire swing comes together. You shouldn't expect immediate results during your first range session, as golf is never that easy. This is a hard game, and you're going to have to work for every improvement you make. As long as you have the patience to stick with it, the one plane swing can wind up paying off in the long run.

Some Pros and Cons

Some Pros and Cons

We aren't trying to make the argument that the one plane swing is the best golf technique of them all. It's not – but it certainly is a viable option. In reality, there is no perfect technique to use in golf, as they all have their pros and cons. It is up to each individual golfer to weigh those plusses and minuses before decide on a technique that works for his or her game.

So what are some of the benefits and drawbacks of the one plane swing? Let's take a look –

  • Pro – Easy to hit a draw. If you are one of the many golfers who has never been able to play a draw – and you would like it – the one plane swing may be your ticket to a right-to-left ball flight. The natural shape that your swing will take on when you use a one plane style is perfect for hitting a draw. The club will attack the ball from the inside, and you will have nice release through the hitting area. You will have some work to do in order to learn how to control that draw, but the act of turning the ball over will probably be pretty simple.
  • Con – Flat angle of attack. If there is one thing that usually keeps people from opting for a one plane swing, this is it. With a flat angle of attack coming into the ball, you will have a harder time dealing with poor lies. If the ball is sitting down in a bad lie, your shallow angle of attack means that the club head is likely to catch on the grass before ever reaching the ball. It is easier to handle a bad lie when you have a two plane swing and a steeper angle of attack. This drawback doesn't mean that you should rule out the one plane option, but it is something to keep in mind.
  • Pro – Reliable game. The mechanics of the one plane swing are such that this is a very reliable and consistent way to play. There isn't a lot that can go wrong in the swing from a technical standpoint, and there isn't much timing to master, either. You will still hit bad shots – all golfers hit bad shots – but some of the frustrating inconsistency that you may have in your game currently could be eliminated. As an amateur golfer who probably only gets to hit the links from time to time, any added consistency will be a welcome boost.
  • Con – Possibility of less distance. This is not a certain outcome, as some golfers will hit the ball just as far with a one plane swing as they do using two planes – and some will hit it even farther. However, if you don't have great flexibility when it comes to your turn, you might struggle to create significant speed with this method. The club is only going to go back as far as you can turn, since your left arm will be across your shoulders. A two plane swing is easier to lengthen even without a huge shoulder rotation. Don't let this point stop you from trying the one plane swing, but keep an eye on your distances to make sure you aren't giving up too much.

In the end, the best way to determine the real pros and cons of this swing method is to try it for yourself. Since each golfer is unique, all players are going to have a slightly different experience with the one plane swing. Some will find it to be an excellent way to play, while others won't be able to make it work at all. Make your own list of pros and cons as you go and see where things wind up after you give it some time.

Making the Decision

Making the Decision

Once you have spent some time working on your one plane swing, you will eventually need to choose if you are going to stick with this method, or if you are going to revert back to the two plane approach. These kinds of decisions are always tough in golf, because they will have a big impact on how you play for years to come. Obviously, you don't want to rush this decision, and you might not even want to make it alone.

The first thing to consider is how comfortable you are with a one plane swing. Does it feel natural, or do you always feel like you are forcing yourself into certain positions? You want your golf swing to feel as comfortable as it can, since a comfortable swing is the one that will hold up under pressure. Even if you are getting decent results, you shouldn't stick with the one plane swing if you don't enjoy playing golf this way.

Another matter to think about is how much time you have available to put into this process. Let's say, for example, that you have spent five range sessions over the course of a month working on your one plane swing. Things are going pretty well, but you know you have a lot of work left to do. How much time do you have in your schedule to do that work? If you can only practice golf once in a while, it is likely that you will struggle to ever make the transition completely. Be realistic and stick to the technique you already have if you don't think you have the free time to make this switch work.

Finally, trust your gut instinct on this decision. As you hit shots and play rounds on the course, what do you find yourself thinking? Are you trying to play a game that is awkward and forced, or are you feeling good and your confidence is growing with each swing? You can often talk yourself into bad decisions in golf by thinking too much. Trust your instincts in this case and they will usually lead you down the right path.

The one plane golf swing is an excellent option for a variety of players, but it is not right for everyone. We hope that you now have a clear understanding of the one plane swing, and we also hope that you have the information you need to try it for yourself. Whether you wind up using this method in the long run is a decision only you can make, but you should now have all of the information you need to get started. Making a swing change can be an exciting time for a golfer, as you never know where a new technique might lead. Good luck!