Bringing Order to the Anarchy - Swing Planes?

By: Bob Duncan

Need more consistency in your golf game? Sure, we all do. But, by now you know that hitting the ball solid and straight isn't going to happen all the time. So, how do you control your golf ball knowing that it won't always go straight?

Here's the premise: Given a good lie, your clubface controls your golf ball (don't forget how the ball lies on the ground affects direction - see my previous articles!). Sure, that's simple. Of course, now you need to know what controls your clubface.

Is it your grip? Sure, partially. Is it your swing path? Sure, partially. But if you're still trying to make your swing path 'inside-out' to produce a draw or hook, please consider that technically you're trying to use a path that would hit among the most difficult flights in golf: a ball that starts right of your alignment/target, and curves back to the left. Using this path to produce a draw is not as easy or predictable as logic suggests.

Instead you need to control your clubface by controlling your swing plane.

To hit a ball straight, you need a biomechanically correct swing plane. The following illustration with the Explanar ( best shows what the biomechanically correct swing plane is. Note that in these pictures the club does not 'extend down the line' or go 'inside-out' or 'over the top.'

What are the benefits of a biomechanically correct swing plane? Aside from the main benefit of hitting the ball straight, the clubhead continues on the same rotation it started without changing direction, which gives it more power. If you try to manipulate the direction mid-swing you will reduce the centrifugal force, reducing power. An additional and important benefit is that you can reduce injuries caused by improper swings. A great example of a biomechanically correct (and underrated) swing plane is PGA Tour pro Jeff Sluman. Sluman is not as tall as many players yet has a very powerful, very simple, on-plane golf swing.

The following illustrations on the Explanar show what the clubface actually does during different swing planes. (Please note that these pictures were produced in slow motion without hitting a ball, and use of a club with the Explanar is not recommended.)

If the swing plane is flatter than biomechanically correct, as above, the clubface will rotate closed on the follow-through and the ball will go left. For this to occur the key is that the follow-through is flat, which further rotates the forearms and clubface. The shoulders rotate more horizontally. Flatter swings can place increased stress on the shoulders and arms, and depending on improper foot movements could stress the back.

If the swing plane is more upright than biomechanically correct, as above, the arms and clubface will rotate less, creating an open face at impact. More upright swings can increase stress on the lower back as the shoulders rotate more vertically. This can over-arch the back in the finish, as many may remember the 'reverse C' position from the late 1970s and early '80s.

Furthermore, a biomechanically correct swing plane will 'release' the club more easily (above), producing a higher, straighter and more powerful ball flight. Excessive extension beyond impact impairs the release, increasing the need for other compensations - which are difficult to identify and even harder to maintain.

Training to the biomechanically correct positions and swing planes is less stressful, more accurate, and more powerful. Given a healthy body, the alternative swing planes could be useful, but you should consult your PGA golf professional for more help.

For more help with swing plane training devices, consider the following websites:, http://planestick.com,,, and

Bob Duncan is a 25-year PGA Golf Professional from Redmond, OR, with a strong player-coach philosophy. Bob is the author and developer of the new GolfeCoach, a personal coaching guide for high school -college players and teams based on 15 life success lessons and on-course coaching. Bob has given over 8,000 hours of golf instruction and coaching and has custom-fit over $1.6 million in golf clubs. Visit or email Bob at