Swing Plane is relative to the Body NOT to an imaginary CIRCLE

The Single Plane Swing begins, at address on the same plane as impact.  This sounds simple enough but many golfers and even instructors get confused by the term Single Plane.  They often think that that the club follows the same circle around the body in the backswing and downswing.  This is not ideal

First of all, you might ask how why doesn’t the club follow the same circle around the body.  It seems logical that if you could get the club to follow a circle around the body that the swing would be easier Right?  Not necessarily. Why?  Because, making the club follow a perfect circle around the body does not follow thee natural movement of the bodies rotation.  In other words, because of the rotation of the tilted spine, during the backswing, the body and arms are in a different position than in the downswing.

To understand the Natural movement of the club and what it means to swing on plane let’s start from the beginning.

The Address sets the swing plane.

At address the club and arms align on the plane Single Plane.  This will be the same plane the club will return to at impact.

Address to Impact plane

The Single Plane is the “relationship that the club has to the body based on the design of the club (lie angle / angle between club head and shaft) and the angle that the club planes through the body (red line).   To make this simple, the red line you see is the way the club aligns with the body.


Now, when you start moving the body, it rotates.  This rotation moves the arms inward, under the original (red) plane line.  Subsequently the hands move the club inward as well.  When the club moves upward due to the folding (bending of the trail arm, you can see that the club will be “parallel to the plane (yellow line) but NOT on the Address Plane (red line).

Todd BS Inside Plane

This is where people get confused. If the swing is a SINGLE PLANE, then why isn’t the club on the red line?  The answer can be seen from the top view.

Moe Norman
Moe Norman Top View

The answer is simply that during the backswing the shoulders are more closed than the downswing when the shoulders are opening up to 40 degrees. As the shoulders open, the club will move down more “outside” the backswing plane.

Here is downline version of the backswing plane and downswing plane.


The natural movement of the body rotation in the backswing and downswing causes the lead shoulder to move on an entirely different plane pulling the lead arm “outward” into the downswing.  Quite frankly, I don’t even think about it.  It naturally occurs with the proper body motion.  Of course, the body is a dynamically complicated mechanism and everything works in relationships.

You will also notice that in the through swing, the club also planes on the other side above the original red line.  This is due to the same phenomenon of the motion of the body and spine tilt.

Release Plane

Notice how the club shaft is parallel to the red line at all of these points.  This is what I call “planing” the club.  If at any of these points the club is steep or flat, there is a problem with rotation of the arms an/or tilt of the body at some point in the swing.

Conceptual Mistake

The Conceptual mistake that people make is that the Single Plane Swing must stay in a constant circular path around the body however, this concept falls short of reality when applied to the complicated anatomical movement of a human body in motion. Spine tilts, wrist angles, rotations and lateral movement creates a complicated dynamic movement.

If golfers try to keep the club on the imaginary circle around the body, they at some point must manipulate some part of the body to stay on the circle. Manipulation is opposite of natural motion and will overcomplicate the swing by creating a timing element impossible to overcome consistently.  

The goal, of course,  is to simplify the movement of the body and ultimately simplify the movement of the club.

Notice at the top of the backswing the hands have moved up to the red, original, plane line.  This is due to the folding of the trail arm causing an upward motion of the hands.

Single Plane Backswing
Single Plane Backswing

You must learn to allow the arms and hands to naturally move the club inside and then up to the plane.  This keeps the same “spatial relationship between the arms and the body.

In the next article I will post an entire swing Sequence.


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