A Golf Lesson on Plane Angles Shifts (Part I)

Article By Jack Moorehouse

This is the first part of a two-part article discussing the role of plane angle shifts. This week we discuss the four different plane angles in your swing. Next week we’ll discuss plane angel shift models. Every golfer no matter what his golf handicap must transition from the backswing to the downswing at the top of his swing. If you’ve read my golf tips newsletter or attended any of my golf instruction sessions, you know how important this is. Mess up here and you’re done for. Put another way, making a smooth transition at the top of the swing is one key to a great swing. It’s often the difference between belting a bomb right down the middle of the fairway and shanking a pop up off to the side of the tee box. Different players use different methods to make the transition. PGA pro Craig Parry uses one type of shift and Jim Furyk, also a PGA pro, uses a different one. Both methods work. But each requires compensations that can be difficult to make consistently. Each also requires good timing. Parry and Furyk have mastered the plane angle shift that fits their swings. If you’re going to develop a swing that’s helps you chop strokes off your golf handicap, you must do the same. But first we need to discuss the role of plane angles in your swing.

Four Plane Angles In Your Swing

Basically, four plane angles exist—the clubshaft plane, the right elbow plane, the squared shoulder plane, and the turning shoulder plane. These four plane angles show where the clubshaft can go in your swing and determines the actions the shaft must take on the way down to the ball. The four plane angles are described below: The clubshaft plane is the most common plane angle. It’s seen as a line drawn up the clubshaft through the beltline at address. This line shows how the club moves from nine o’clock to three o’clock, or from setup to waist high in the backswing and downswing. The right elbow plane is a second plane angle. It’s seen as a line drawn from the club’s right hosel through the left elbow. This line shows how the clubshaft should work from belt high to chest high in the backswing and forward swing. This angle is slightly more upright than the clubshaft plane. The square shoulder plane is the most critical plane angle. It’s seen as a line drawn from the club’s hosel to the midpoint of the right deltoid for a right-handed golfer. This line shows how the clubshaft works for most players from chest high to the top of the swing during the backswing. The turning shoulder plane is the upper most plane angle. It’s seen as a line drawn from the club’s hosel through the top of the right deltoid as the club reaches the top. From here, the club should drop to the elbow then to the original shaft plane and on to impact. Most players need to shift planes to execute a smooth transition from backswing to downswing. Some players use one shift to make the transition. Others use two or three shifts. In our golf lessons and written golf tips, we like to refer to the different ways to make the transitions as models. So there’s the single shift model, the double shift model, and so on. All shift models require some sort of “compensation” to ensure a smooth transition to delivery. Making compensations is where golfers get in trouble.

No Shift Model

In addition to the different shift models discussed above, there’s the no shift approach. Players adopting this model make no plane shift when make the transition to delivery. They maintain the original plane angle established at address throughout their swing. This approach is both efficient and repeatable. But it doesn’t generate as much clubhead speed and distance as the shift models do. Knowing your swing and working within its limitations is the key to controlling your clubshaft and its transition to delivery. Once you understand what type of transition or shift best suits your swing and abilities, you’re on your way to developing a powerful, repeatable swing that will help you cut strokes from your golf handicap. But before you can master the mechanics of a shift model, you need to understand how it works. Next week we’ll discuss the different plane angle shift models.

Jack Moorehouse is the author of the best-selling book, How To Break 80 and Shoot Like the Pros!. He is NOT a golf pro, rather a working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower their handicap immediately. He has a free weekly newsletter with the latest golf tips , golf lessons and golf instruction.

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