Why Correct Spine Angle Improves Your Swing Plane, Senior Golf Tip

The swing plane is the tilt and direction of travel of the club during the swing. Finding the correct plane and swinging along it will greatly improve the accuracy of shots.

One way to help the senior golfer improve their swing plane is to improve the spine angle at address and maintain the angle throughout the swing. Spine angle is created when the golfer tilts over from the hips whilst addressing the ball. The more a golfer tilts towards the ball, the greater the spine angle is created in relation to the ground.

The amount of spine angle created is important because it will affect the swing plane. Taller players will usually tilt over the ball more, increasing the spine angle. This means their swing plane will be steeper. Likewise, shorter players tend to tilt over less, decreasing their spine angle. This means their swing plane will be shallower.

However steep or shallow a senior golfer's swing plane is, maintaining the spine angle throughout the swing is vital in keeping the swing plane constant. The most common cause of losing spine angle during the swing is standing up at impact. This alters the swing plane through impact leading to inconsistent shots.

How to maintain spine angle during the swing:

1. At address when tilting over the ball, try to make sure the shoulders are beyond the toes. This will move body weight on to the balls of the feet and away from the heels.

2. When swinging back, try to maintain your posture (this may be hard if you have weakness in the lower back or core muscles).

3. When swinging though and turning the hips, feel as though you are turning into the left heel and keeping the backside pushed back. This will help stop the hips moving forward and lifting the spine angle up and away from the ball.

The chair drill: To help get the correct feeling a senior golfer can use the chair drill.

1. When practicing, place an ordinary chair behind you at address, with the seat facing away from you.

2. After completing your posture, your backside should rest on the top edge of the chair back.

3. Practice hitting shots with your backside resting on the top of the chair. This will ensure your backside stays out and your spine angle is maintained throughout the swing.

Think about the angle of your spine to improve your swing plane.

Why Correct Spine Angle Improves Your Swing Plane

Why Correct Spine Angle Improves Your Swing Plane

Swing plane is one of the 'hidden' fundamentals in the game of golf. We say it is hidden because it is difficult to get a good idea of your swing plane while you are actually hitting your shots – only on video review can you really tell what is going on with the path of the club. Since it is so hard to see, many golfers ignore this part of their technique while working to lower their scores. Of course, that is a mistake. Swing plane is a crucial part of your success in golf, so make sure you move it near the top of your practice priority list.

As you can tell from the title of this article, we are going to be discussing how you can improve your swing plane through the use of a proper spine angle. Simply put, the spine angle you use in your swing is the angle formed by your spine at address and throughout the swinging motion. A good spine angle will remain stable from start to finish – however many amateur golfers struggle with this point. Spine angle is yet another thing that you can't see when you are hitting your shots, so you will have to lean heavily on either video review or the help of a friend to make sure you are all set on this point.

By playing with a good spine angle and a consistent swing plane, you should be able to produce shots which leave on the same line time after time. One of the hardest things about golf is simply hitting the ball on your intended target line, but that won't be nearly as much of a challenge once you have your spine angle under control. Make no mistake – this is still a hard game, and there are plenty of other things that can go wrong. However, when your spine angle is contributing to the swing in a positive manner, the ball should at least start near your intended line more times than not.

Changing your swing plane is a task which can take some considerable time and effort, so you should not be expecting immediate results if you go down this path. You can absolutely turn yourself into a better player by learning the right spine angle to use, but it is going to take time to see your improvements turn into lower scores on the card. Just like anything else you do with your golf swing, this change needs to be handled on the range first before it can be effective on the course. Give yourself plenty of practice time to engrain the new technique and then take it out to the course with a combination of patience and confidence. It can be hard to be patient when you are excited about your new swing, but give it time and your scores will come around in the long run.

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.

The Importance of Swing Plane

The Importance of Swing Plane

Why does swing plane matter in the first place? To motivate yourself to work on this part of your game, it may be helpful to gain an understanding for just how important it is to swing the club on the proper plane. Once you have this concept clear in your mind, you can then get to work on fixing your plane with a newfound determination.

The points below highlight a few of the reasons why you should be concerned about the swing plane you use to deliver the club to the back of the ball.

  • Start the ball on line. We have already touched on this point, but it is the key idea behind the entire concept of swing plane – so we need to highlight it again here. When the club swings down on a predictable plane, the path that the ball leaves on will become predictable as well. You don't need to be an expert golfer to know that this is an important advantage. Rather than having to hope you will start the ball on line, you can be confident that your shot will leave in the direction you have intended. Then, as long as the flight of the ball in the air matches with your plan, you will be left with an accurate shot. No golfer hits the ball on line 100% of the time, but swinging the club on plane is the best way to be as consistent as is possible in this difficult game.
  • Find the center of the club face. Another big advantage to swinging on a consistent plane is the ability to make contact with the ball on the center of the club face. Striking the center of the face will help you to maximize your distance, and it will also allow you to avoid any unwanted draw or fade spin. The ability to hit the sweet spot time after time is one of the most important skills you can possess as a golfer – and swinging the club on plane is going to make it much easier to find that sweet spot. Don't rely on timing alone to bring the club head into the perfect position at impact. Swing on plane and deliver the club nicely even if your timing is a bit off.
  • Avoid fat or thin contact. Yet another benefit to this kind of swing is the ability to make clean contact at impact. This is not particularly important with the driver, but it is critical when it comes to your iron game. When playing irons from the fairway, you need to be able to catch the ball cleanly at the moment of impact – if the club is even a fraction of an inch high or low, your contact will suffer and the shot will likely wind up off target. It is a great feeling to know that you can catch the ball cleanly on almost every shot, and swinging on plane is the way to make that happen.
  • Controlled ball flight. By swinging the club on plane, you should be able to avoid any dramatic curves as the ball flies toward the target. Of course you are still going to have some amount of shape to your shot, and that is not a bad thing. However, you want to avoid dramatic curves, as those can be hard to control in some situations. With a reliable and appropriate swing plane, you can deliver the club to the ball in a way that will lead to relatively straight shots with only minor turns in the air. Once you get comfortable with this kind of swing, you will love the way you are able to manage your ball around the course.

You would have a hard time finding a professional golfer with a poor swing plane. It is simply too difficult to time your swing properly to hit good shots while playing from a plane which is inconsistent or too extreme. Follow the lead of the professionals and spend some time working on your swing plane in the near future. If you can manage to iron out this part of your technique – with some help from your spine angle – it is likely that you game will improve.

Forming a Great Spine Angle

Forming a Great Spine Angle

If you are going to be able to use a good spine angle to support your golf swing, you are going to need to know how to form that angle at address. In this section, we are going to cover exactly that topic. By taking the time to learn how to make a great stance, you will have a foundation that can serve your swing well hole after hole, round after round.

To wind up with an excellent stance over the ball each and every time, please follow the steps listed below.

  • Before worrying about the position of your spine, you are going to start taking your stance by thinking about your lower body. Specifically, you need to make sure your feet are put into position. Stand with your feet square to the target line, with the width of your stance determined by the club you are holding. For a wedge shot, you can place your feet directly under your shoulders – for a longer club, like the driver, you will want to make a wider stance. Experiment on the range until you find a comfortable stance width for all of your clubs. In addition to placing your feet properly, you also want to flex your knees. All golf shots should begin with flexed knees, as activating your lower body is a great way to prepare yourself for an athletic move.
  • With your lower body set, you can now work on setting your upper body into the right spot. How do you do that? First, you are going to sit into your stance by sticking your backside out behind you. This will flatten the lower portion of your back, which is crucial to the success of your swing. Also, you are going to pick your chin up away from your chest in order to finish the job of straightening your back from your waist all the way up through your neck. It might feel a bit awkward at first to stand with your back flat, especially if you are used to playing from a hunched over position. If this is a big change for you, make sure to spend plenty of time practicing your stance so you can get comfortable with this position as quickly as possible.
  • To complete the stance, you are going to set the club behind the ball and position your hands on the grip properly. Now that you have your backside sticking out behind you, it should be pretty easy to allow your arms to hang freely from your shoulders at address. This is an ideal position to find – someone looking from behind you (in the down the line angle) should see that your arms are hanging directly down toward the ground. You don't need to change your grip as you work on adjusting your stance, but you do need to make sure that you are using a relaxed, relatively loose grip pressure to hold onto the club. Make sure you hold on tight enough to keep the club in your hands, but don't squeeze any tighter than that.

With the previous three steps completed, you should now be ready to swing the club. Your spine angle should be set thanks to the preparations you completed with your lower body, along with the action of lifting your chin up away from your chest. Now that you are starting from a good spine angle, the next challenge is to maintain that spine angle throughout your entire swing. We will cover that topic in the next section.

Maintaining a Great Spine Angle

Maintaining a Great Spine Angle

Starting from a solid spine angle is a great way to begin, but that position is going to be of limited value if you give it away immediately after the swing begins. To make sure that your solid spine angle leads to a great turn, you will have to stay in that spine angle from the takeaway all the way to the follow through. Unfortunately, many amateur golfers go wrong somewhere between the start of the swing and the end. It is easy to lose track of your spine angle while you are worried about other swing fundamentals, but don't let that happen to you. Focus on this important key and many of the other parts of your swing will take care of themselves.

The following points are key swing fundamentals which you can use to make sure your spine angle doesn't change during the swing. Keep these points in mind during your next practice session.

  • Keep your head steady. Obviously, your head is located at the top of your spine. If you do a good job of keeping your head steady throughout the swing, your spine angle should remain relatively stable as well. It is common for amateur golfers to allow their heads to move up during the backswing, before moving back down again in the downswing. Don't make this mistake, as it adds a complicating step to your swing as a whole. Instead, keep your head on the same level from start to finish, and simply turn back and through to strike the shot. You will feel much more in control of your swing when you stay level like this, and your ball striking will quickly improve as a result.
  • Don't swing back too far. Many golfers lose control of their spine angle because they force themselves to swing back farther than they can do comfortably. You don't have to make an extremely long backswing in order to hit powerful, accurate golf shots. Once your shoulders are done turning, stop your backswing and move into the downswing phase. Forcing your arms to turn farther after your shoulders have stopped is just a recipe for disaster. If you do make the mistake of swinging back too far, you will likely come up out of your stance, and you will lose your spine angle in the process. You will then need to lean back out over the ball as you swing down, which is often how a slice is created. To steer clear of the dreaded slice and the many problems it creates, tighten up your backswing and resist the urge to force a larger turn.
  • Maintain your knee flex. Remember the knee flex that you used as part of your address position? You need to maintain that flex once the swing gets started. This is one of the biggest mistakes many amateurs make when swinging the club. They might start out with an appropriate amount of knee flex, but that flex often goes away shortly after putting the club in motion. You need to hold on to that stable base that you build prior to starting your swing, so don't straighten your knees just because the swing has begun.
  • Turn your left shoulder under your chin. If you need one simple direction in order to get your swing started properly, use this tip. As you stand over the ball, think only about turning your left shoulder under your chin. Making this move is going to help you keep your spine angle intact, and it is going to set you up for a full rotation away from the target in the backswing. Of course, in order to turn your shoulder under your chin, you need to have your chin up off your chest to start with – which was a point made earlier in this article. Give your shoulder plenty of space to pass under your chin and you should be well on your way to a great backswing.

As long as you do a good job of maintaining your spine angle in the backswing and downswing it is very likely that your swing plane will take care of itself. Spine angle and swing plane are closely related, and it is hard to have a problem in one without a problem in the other. Pay attention to these points while you practice to make sure you aren't wasting a good spine angle by making a pointless mistake somewhere in your swing.

Signs of Trouble

Signs of Trouble

If you are like most golfers, you probably don't record yourself swinging a golf club on video very often (if at al). With that in mind, you might not ever notice that there is a problem with your swing plane – so the issue could go unchecked for years into the future. To make sure that doesn't happen, it is wise to watch for signs of trouble with regard to your swing plane. If any of the issues listed below begin to appear regularly in your game, it might be time to take a look at your swing plane as a potential cause of trouble.

  • Pulled or pushed shots. If you are regularly missing your intended line when the ball leaves the club face, it is almost certain that you have swing plane problems. We are not talking here about the trajectory your ball takes while it is in the air – we are only taking about the initial direction of the shot when it leaves the club. If this path is missing the mark, you can be fairly certain that your swing plane is incorrect.
  • Hitting the ball fat. There are few things in golf which are quite as frustrating as hitting the ball fat over and over again. If this has been your recent experience on the course, you may be swinging on a plane which is too steep. Flattening out your plane by using less hand action in the backswing could help you to avoid this problem and begin to make solid contact once again.
  • The slice. Golfers who are wrestling with the slice may be having trouble finding the right swing plane. To get rid of the slice once and for all, you are going to need to change your swing plane in a meaningful way. Those who slice tend to swing across the ball from outside-in, so you need to build a plane that is going to allow you to attack from the inside instead.

It is tricky for the average golfer to spot problems with his or her swing plane, but this is not an area of the game that you can afford to overlook. Take some time to check on the condition of your swing plane, and make sure that your spine angle is doing everything it needs to do in order to support a proper swing plane. Once you bring these two parts of your swing together successfully, another big piece of the golf puzzle will be locked into place. From here, you can move on to other swing keys until you are happy with your overall motion and results. Good luck!