1 Plane or 2 Plane Swing – Which One Should You Have?

In the last few years, a new term has been circulating around the golf world.  That term is a “1 plane swing or a 2 plane swing.”  You may know these 2 different swings as a flat swing (like Ben Hogan) or an upright swing (like Jack Nicklaus).  The 2 common questions that I have received about this subject have been, “should I have a 1 plane swing or a 2 plane swing?” and “do you teach a one plane swing or a 2 plane swing?”  Before I answer these questions, let’s understand them a little better.

Understanding the Swing Plane

I like to use the image of a weight swinging on a piece of string to illustrate the swing plane. What would happen if you picked up a weight on a piece of string and started to twirl it? Assuming your hand was on a 45 degree angle in front of you (like your upper body in the golf swing), and not tilted left or right, the weight would make a circular arc around your hand at 90 degrees.  This means the weight is doing the same thing on one side as it does on the other or, in other words, its making a perfect plane that bisects your hand.

The One Plane Swing

The idea behind a 1 plane golf swing, is that you are trying to replicate the same path as the weight swinging on the piece of string around your hand.  This means that the plane of the club would be swinging at 90 degrees to your body both on the way back, and on the way down and through.

The Two Plane Swing

The 2 plane swing is a more upright swing.  This means that in the backswing, the club follows the plane to about halfway back.  Then, the club goes above the plane as it makes it to the top of the backswing.  It then catches back up to the plane on the way down and through.

It is how the club goes above the plane that is the cause of concern for the single plane advocates.   So what should you do?

Decisions … Decisions …

Given the above information, it may seem that keeping the club on this plane may be the ideal way to swing a golf club.  If that were true, you would not have heard of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Sam Snead, Nick Faldo, Davis Love, Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, John Daly, Ernie Els, Greg Norman, Colin Mongomerie and Tiger Woods (in recent years) just to name a few.

The next thing to consider, is that you don’t actually hit the ball in the backswing.  You hit the ball as the club swings down and through.  So if you are doing a 2 plane swing, the main concern would be that you get the club back on plane at some point in the downswing. If you could do this consistently, the 2 plane swing
should work just as well as a one plane swing.  Unfortunately, most average golfers never get the club back on plane.  So, they never improve.

So, How Do You Get the Club On Plane in the Downswing?

Well, remember back to the weight swinging on the piece of string.  What made it swing on a perfect 90 degree plane around the hand?  Simple … the hand turned turned and the weight on the string just went along for the ride.

So how does this relate to your golf swing?  Well … all you have to do is think of the weight as your whole golf club, the string as your arms and the hand twirling it as your body.  If you do nothing with your arms, and turn your body first in the downswing, the club will fall to 90 degrees to your body and you will be perfectly on plane relative to your body.   This is because the mass (club) will always move towards 90 degrees to the axis (body) if it is allowed to swing undisturbed.

I know … I know … there are disbelievers out there.  Your saying it cannot be this simple.  Actually, it is that simple.  Unfortunately, most people are trying to hit the ball as hard as they can with their arms.  In doing so, they are moving the mass (club) before the axis (body).  So they never end up copying the weight swinging on the piece of string.

What Swing Do I Recommend?

Before you embark on a drastic swing change, why not try what I just mentioned above.  Turn your arms “off.”  This means you are not going to keep trying whack at the ball as hard as you can anymore.  Then, to start the downswing, concentrate on turning your lower body first like the hand twirling the weight on the string.  Sure, this is a different move.  It’s actually the the opposite to what you have been doing all these years.  The thing is, what you have been doing is not working.  So, what do you have to lose by trying it?

What Do I Teach?

Because I know the club will get back on the plane regardless of whether you are a 1 plane or 2 plane golfer (if you just turn your body before your arms move), I don’t really care if you are a 2 plane golfer or a 1 plane golfer.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if you have a really upright swing, I would teach you to be a little flatter.  If you were too flat, I would have you raise the club up a little.

What I am most concerned with when I watch people swing, is if they are incorporating the 3 elements of Iron Byron who, by the way, swings on a perfect plane every time.  The 3 things are:

1. An unrestricted hinging and unhinging of the wrists.
2. The circular rotation of the body.
3. Maintaining the constant forward tilt (spine angle).

These are the 3 things found in every great swing regardless of whether they have a 1 plane swing or a 2 plane swing.


Before you make any major changes to your swing, try what I mentioned above to the get the club swinging on plane.  If it works for some of the greatest players of all time, it will most certainly work for you.

Until next time,

Paul Wilson
Creator – Swing Machine Golf

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