The golf swing is one of the most analysed techniques you will come across in any sport. Within so much analysis of the golf swing, from YouTube to the golf Channel, you will always notice that certain aspects of the swing will crop up again and again. possibly the most talked about aspect is without question is the swing plane, and how the club should approach the golf ball. We constantly hear commentators and golf professionals alike discussing being on plane or off plane, having an upright swing or a flat swing, and there has always been both debate and confusion about what swing plane is “correct”.
As you look at various different players on both the European tour and PGA Tour, one thing will become apparent very quickly, and that is that almost everybody has a slightly different swing plane, which to me instantly says there is no 100% correct swing plane, but there is one that works best for each player depending on what they want to do with the golf ball.
The simplest way to describe the term “swing plane” is to think of it as the angle at which the club travels to and from the ball from a down the line view. The swing plane can describe both the backswing and the downswing, however when we are discussing its affects, it is most certainly more important to look at the downswing rather than the backswing, simply because this is the part of the swing that is going to directly affect the ball. The easiest way to look at the positioning of the club is to draw a line through the shaft of the golf club at address, and use this as a reference point throughout both the backswing, downswing and follow through.
Drawing a line through the shaft will give us a reference point to judge the plane of the club by. Although using such a line will not give us an exact club path like a launch monitor would, when we combine it with the resulting ball flight we can make an exceptionally educated judgement as to what is happening the club path through impact, and how we can improve it in relation to the swing plane.
Draw players vs fade players
As we look at the functionality of the swing plane it is important to look at how the club can move down both above and below the shaft plane, and generally speaking what can happen from each of those positions. Players can play some fantastic golf from both sides of the plane line, as long as they can understand where the shape comes from, and what to look out for should it go wrong at any point.
As we look at the sequence above of Rory Mcilroy’s swing in 2012, you will see that the club falls significantly behind his back from the top, and the club falls under the original shaft plane represented by the red line. During this time Rory would hit a significant right to left shape (a draw). This shape is commonly associated with this type of swing plane as it will generally produce an in to out club path If a player can match this path with a club face that is slightly closed to it, her will then produce a right to left movement on the golf ball.
A club that moves more “under” the shaft plane will generally produce a shallower angle of attack. This can really help to squeeze those extra few yards out from the tee.
On the other hand however, if we take a look at PGA Tour player Brooks Koepka will use a very different style to Rory. As you will see Brooks keeps the golf club above the plane line as it approaches the golf ball. As a result Brooks will shape the golf ball from left to right (fade) providing the club face remains open to the club path.
If all things remain equal, technically there should not be a difference between a draw and a fade. However when we swing a golf club it is impossible to make a swing change and keep everything else the exact same. With this in mind I would most certainly encourage the average golfer to work more towards a draw shape, for the simple reason that they will create more ball speed from a draw shape swing than a fade shape swing. However should you not consider speed as an essential gain that you need to make, the most important thing to remember is that if you begin to curve the ball too much, try to bring your downswing closer to the original shaft plane as it approaches the golf ball. Regardless of which side of the spectrum you are coming from this should begin to improve the curvature you are imparting on the