The Plane Truth for Golfers by Jim Hardy is one of the best books written about golf for the casual golfer and the PGA teaching professional. In the book, Hardy explains the one and two plane swing and what swing the golfer should use. Even though I not a method teacher nor am I a Jim Hardy disciple, I use the knowledge from The Plane Truth for Golfers to help students improve.
One bit of knowledge I use is changing spine angle tilt at address and shoulder tilt on the backswing to match the arm and club plane on the backswing. Let me break it down into one plane and two plane swing to explain.
If a golfer has the golf club flat or laid off and the left arm across the chest at the top of the backswing I will not change the club or arm position. I will make the following adjustment to a student’s body position at address and top of the swing to match the golf club position. At address, I will look at the student’s shoulders to make sure they are level to the ground. Take the address position and put a golf club across the front of the shoulders the club would be parallel to the ground. Many golfers have their left shoulder higher than the right shoulder because their hands are in front of the ball at address. It is mandatory to have the hands hanging straight down and not manipulated forward in any way to have level shoulders at address.
I will also examine whether the spine angle is perpendicular from the ground. Put a golf club on the spine at address to check this position. The player that is flat or laid off at the top needs to rotate the shoulders vertically or in an up and down motion on the backswing. To check this position, stand in the address position, put the golf club on the front of the shoulders, and put the hands on opposite shoulders holding the golf club. Make a turn with the butt end of the club pointing one foot outside the golf ball. To help make this turn the player will need to bend from the hips at a 45 degree spine angle at address. The shoulders rotate vertically to help maintain the spine angle that was at addressthroughout the golf swing. If the shoulders rotate parallel the ground and the golf club is laid off the golf club will be stuck behind the body on the downswing. This will cause a high right ball flight and hard hooks golf shots. This is known as having a two way miss.
A golfer with a vertical left arm over the right shoulder, for a right handed golfer, and the golf club pointing at the target at the top of the backswing is considered a two plane golfer. There is nothing wrong with this position as long as the body and set up position match the plane of the left arm and golf club. At address the spine should be taller than a 45 degree angle mentioned before, the left shoulders will be slight higher than the right shoulder and the spine will be tilted slightly to the right.
On the backswing, the shoulders will rotate on a flatter angle to the ground to keep the same spine angle the same as in the address position. Put the golf club on the front of the shoulders and then put the hands on opposite shoulders holding the golf club. Make a full turn as if making a backswing, the butt end of the club should be pointing six to ten feet on the opposite side of the ball from the golfer.
Changing the plane of the club and left arm can take years, because it is hard for a golfer to hit the ball from a different position at the top of the backswing. Instead of spending a year or two trying to change the plane of the club and the left arm. Make set up and body position changes to match the club plane of the backswing, this can be achieved in a few practice sessions.
Please go see your local PGA Professional to determine what body positions you need to match the plane of your swing.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is an active Student Mentor at FGCU; a volunteer with the First Tee program and was presented the 2010 and 2011 PGA’s President Council Awards on “Growing the Game.”