The Swing Plane is a Fundamental Key to a Solid Backswing


The swing plane is a key element in creating a powerful swing. An ideal plane for a golf swing falls between perfectly flat and perfectly upright. To a great extent the distance a golfer stands from the ball dictates the plane of their swing.  The farther away the ball is from the golfer’s feet, the flatter more horizontal  his or her swing plane will be. When driving, the golfer stands relatively far from the ball because they are using the longest club in the bag.  On short-iron shots you stand closer to the ball simply because you are using a shorter club.  Thus the plane of a swing with a driver is flatter than with, say, a 9-iron.

Unusually tall golfers tend to address shots with the ball closer to their feet than do relatively short golfers. Thus tall golfers naturally swing on a more upright plane than do short players. The amount that a golfer bends forward at the waist also influences his or her swing plane. The more you bend forward, so long as your back remains relatively straight, the more upright will be your swing plane. To take two extremes, if a golfer did not bend at all from the waist and stood perfectly upright, to turn your body at all you would have to turn your shoulders and move the club on a more-or-less perfectly horizontal plane. A golfer who bent so much at the waist that his or her back was parallel to the ground would necessarily swing on practically a perfectly upright or vertical plane.

The recommended swing plane tends to be more vertical than horizontal. A more upright plane keeps the clubhead moving along the target line for a relatively longer duration than would a flatter swing plane. To achieve an ideal swing plane the ball, shoulders, and hands are on the same line at the top of the swing. If your swing is below this ideal plane line then your swing is too flat, conversely, if it is above the line it is too vertical.

Any golfer who gains a clear understanding of the fundamentals of golf and who will then devote time to practice is well on their way to developing a sound, powerful, and repeating swing.



If you're hitting your drives a long way but spraying them from side to side, the cure may lie in your takeaway, specifically within the first foot-and-a-half from the ball.

For many golfers, how the club approaches the ball at impact mirrors the takeaway. Power hitters tend to pull the driver sharply inside the target line in the takeaway. Consequently, the clubhead approaches impact from the inside, moves down the line and returns to inside on the follow-through. This inside-to-inside path promotes power for two reasons. First, the clubhead comes to the ball on a level path; second, the inside takeaway fans the clubface open in the takeaway. On the return the face moves quickly from open to square to closed, putting right-to-left spin on the ball for more distance.

At least that's the theory. You'll get the booming tee shot only when your timing is perfect and the club travels down the line at impact with a square clubface. But perfection is elusive: If either the clubhead path or clubface is off by even a hair, the result will be a mix of erratic shots, mostly hooks and pushes. One of the best ways to keep the clubhead closer to the target line and reduce the chance of a misaligned clubface is by adopting the straight-back takeaway.


The first 18 inches of the takeaway is the key. Envision a foot-and-a-half line straight back from the ball and pull the clubhead slowly over that line with your hands. Your left hand, arm and shoulder move as a unit in setting the club in motion. Move the club back as slowly as you can to promote balance in the lower body and also to encourage a strong turning of the upper body in the backswing. Starting the club straight along the target line should mean the club will return straight along the line for that crucial one foot on either side of the ball. Also, because the clubface won't fan open quite as much on the takeaway, you won't have to force a release of the hands to square up at impact.

This "straight-ball" takeaway alters the plane of your driver, making it   more upright. The clubhead will come into the ball on a steeper angle, so ball position must be just right if you're going to hit the ball "dead level." You may lose a few yards if you catch the ball a shade on the downswing or upswing, but the increased accuracy more than outweighs any small distance loss. Remember, too, that a drive in the fairway rolls much farther than one in the rough.