Notes from the range

Currently working on grooving an inside-out swing path and it’s working nicely, has definitely improved my ball striking. Ball flight still seemed to be high and it felt flippy though, so I’m also focusing on not letting the club-head pass my hands.

The combination of inside-out path and holding on to the angle seems to sort out the rest of my swing; better sequencing etc. Direction was a bit erratic but contact was generally pure with a more penetrating ball flight.

So, practice plan for the next few weeks is simply 1/2 to 3/4 swings making sure I have an inside-out path and delay release as long as possible. Working up to full swing and through the bag.

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My two plane golf swing

Latest lesson in my golf education; understanding the widely held belief that there are two main swings, one-plane and two-plane.

Very simply, one-plane means that the arms and shoulders swing on the same plane, two-plane means that the arms and shoulders swing on two different planes.

Left is one-plane, right is two-plane:

swing-planes

I have been reading a book called ‘The Plane Truth…’ by Jim Hardy and it’s been a real eye-opener because (a) it’s made me realise that there is more than just one ‘textbook’ way to swing a club and (b) I can’t try and copy every great swing I see and not every swing tip will be applicable to my natural swing tendency. The point is, you have to work what YOUR swing is (or you want it to be) and build your movements and practice around that. You get into trouble when you mix one and two plane principles; i.e. you set up for a one-plane swing but actually swing on two-plane.

I know I am a natural two-plane swinger, which is a shame because it is regarded as more complicated, difficult to repeat and dependent on timing and rhythm! I just can’t get comfortable with the one-swing movements so I will have to embrace what I’ve got and at least now I know what I should (and shouldn’t) be working.

Here are some of the key characteristics of a two-plane swing, and why I think it is my swing type:

Grip is neutral to weak, 1-2 knuckles of left hand visible maximum – I have worked to strengthen my grip recently, because it was neutral to weak before but I’ll ease up on that now.

Stance is narrow (inside shoulder width) – I commented in a previous post about how I struck the ball better with a narrower stance! Discovered totally by accident, but I now know is because I am a two-plane swinger and this is a key characteristic of one. Not as much weight shift, so doesn’t need to be wide.

Ball position – no real change here to what I was doing but I might need to stand slightly closer to the ball. Hands directly under chin at address.

Posture – I’ve probably had too much tilt and knee flex. Going to adopt a slightly more upright posture.

Weight distribution – this is an interesting one; should have 60% of weight on right side at address. All the common advice is weight centred or favouring left.

Backswing – shoulders stay quite level and you turn away from the ball whilst simultaneously lifing the arms. They have to move at same speed. This is why the two-plane swing can get difficult, timing is very important.

It’s OK to move slightly to the right as you move weight in the backswing, it’s beneficial because it creates a bit of much needed width. If your weight is too centred or on the left at top of backswing the swing is too narrow.

Both arms need to stay as straight as possible in the takeaway – again it adds a bit of width.

It’s even OK to be across the line slightly at the top! I’ve spent hours trying to sort this out, but Hardy considers it acceptable in a two-plane swing.

Donwnswing – shoulders must stay passive. So difficult for me, I find it so hard to stop using my shoulders first! The arms must move down first, not out – the swing shape is actually a kind of V; back over right shoulder, down to impact, back over left.

Weight does shift to left side on downswing but it is very subtle, maybe 60% on front foot at impact. Not 80-100% as typically suggested.

Shoulders are square at impact, don’t let your spine angle change and don’t let the right shoulder dip.

A couple of good videos on the subject:

Swing Thought of the Day

You have to control the timing of your transition by starting your downswing before the backswing finishes.

What you absolutely have to make sure of is that your arms do not carry on moving behind you after your body stops turning. You lose power and end up in a bad position and trapped. You’ve over-swung.

The only way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to initiate the move down whilst you are still moving back. Two really important things happen when you do this:

  • You increase the centrifugal force which helps you build lag.
  • Because a lot of effort is required change the direction of the club (rather than just letting it bounce off you because it can’t go any further) you engage your lower body and pull more with your left side. Your sequencing is much better, you create much more club head speed and the ball goes much further.

There’s one other really important ingredient; you must have ‘loose’ arms and wrists. Too much tension will make it more difficult to transition smoothly.

You need to know when it’s the right time to start your downswing and what I am working on currently is using my left shoulder as my downswing ‘trigger’. So, as soon as my left shoulder gets under my chin – and my left arm is roughly at 9pm – I start my downswing by pulling with my left side.

 

Narrow stance for better golf

Yet again my ball striking improved when I consciously narrowed my stance mid-round today.

It makes sense – the wider your stance, the less likely you are to find the low point in your swing unless your weight transfer and timing is spot on. The narrower your stance is, the smaller the mergin for error.

I’ve been here before but never stuck with it consistently and I found some good articles and forum posts that advocate it strongly. Many a golfer has discovered a shoulder-width stance is not optimal, it would seem:

The Width of Stance Myth

Rotary Swing – Correct Stance Width

Your stance is too wide!

Very narrow stance…try it!!

I’m going to need to spend some time at the range working out what the perfect stance width is for all my clubs but a narrower stance is definitely the way to go, I’m sure of it.

Best advice appears to be to get your lower body ‘stacked’ – ankles, knees and hips all on top of each other. Shoulder width is old, restricts your turn and makes it harder to get back to the ball.

You still have to make sure you are using your legs to shift the weight in the swing, don’t just plant legs and do nothing with them. Narrow it up, and feel the weight shifting to the right leg and back to the left. Your hips rotate nicely rather than slide.

Obviously the stance widens for the bigger clubs, but I’m going to play around with how much wider. Was hitting my hybrid good today with a wider stance and a bit more of a lateral shift.

Will be working on plenty feet together drills over the next couple of weeks.