The choice is yours: why you should commit to improving your technique. Plus, the critical factors for determining whether you are a one-plane or two-plane swinger

Jim Hardy

THERE ARE TWO DISTINCTLY different sets of fundamentals that govern the two types of swings. If you are using one type of swing and suddenly introduce an element from the other type, a breakdown occurs. The swing that used to work for you (at least most of the time), now does not work.

Once you determine which swing type you use, then you will discover the fundamentals that pertain to your swing method. When you learn to discard those elements that do not fit your style and adopt those that do, you can begin to practice effectively. If you are practicing only those things that will be successful for you, then you cannot fail to improve.

On the following pages we’ll explore both swings along with a specific set of fundamentals governing each. Right now, though, I want to give you some of the individual characteristics for the two swings so you can choose the best swing technique for you.

The first of those traits is that the two-plane swing is more upright than the one-plane swing. This is very important. To get an idea of the characteristic differences between the upright swing type and the flatter swing type, imagine a car tire as it stands upright. The tire tread touches the ground the least amount in this vertical position. Now imagine the tire lying almost on its side. You can observe that more of the tire touches the ground in this more horizontal position. The upright tire has in golf terms an unforgiving impact area. If a club were swung in this manner it would be going down one instant and then back up the next instant. The tire visual shows you how the two-plane swing, which is somewhat somewhat upright, tends to lack width and is a little too steep and too narrow. Conversely, the leaned-over tire shows the attributes of a one-plane swing that tends to be too wide and too shallow. Remember these traits because they will figure prominently in your understanding of the two sets of fundamentals.

Another characteristic of the two swing types is how they make the plane. The one-plane golfer forms his plane by bending over, with the shoulders, arms and club swinging around the bent over spine on the same plane.

When you bend over, your shoulders and hips are not in the same plane. Your hips are on top of two vertical pegs (your legs) while your shoulders are going to turn around an inclined plane. When you turn these two body parts, you are actually turning them to a degree against each other. This windup is a source of tremendous power, but does require strength and flexibility to achieve. Furthermore, this winding and unwinding of power in the trunk of the body requires fairly strong legs as well to stabilize the swing.

The two-plane swing involves doing two things simultaneously that produce the plane. The up-and-down swinging arms are on a plane to drive a tent peg into the ground. The shoulders are on a plane to hit a baseball waist high. There is a compromise between the vertical arm swing and the horizontal shoulder turn. If you move your arms up in front of you at exactly the same time and rate as you turn your shoulders, you will be in the perfect position. To accomplish this, good timing, tempo and rhythm are paramount. This should tell you that if you are considering the two-plane method, you must have a good sense of timing and rhythm.

In making the choice, you must also assess your hand-eye coordination, flexibility and athletic ability. Specifically:

* If you are aggressive and strong in the chest, abdominals, back and shoulders, the one-plane swing will suit you better.

* If you lack body or arm strength, but are flexible and coordinated, the two-plane action should be your choice.

Which method will allow a golfer to hit the ball the farthest? It depends. The one-plane swing is powerful because the upper body recoils explosively from the tensed condition of the lower spine at the top of the backswing. The two-plane swing also produces great distance; the karate-chop motion of the arms is a powerful lever. It requires great timing to maximize distance, whereas the one-plane swing requires a fairly high degree of elasticity, especially in the midsection. If you are not in good condition or are getting up there in years, chances are you will get more power, as well as overall effectiveness, from the two-plane action.

In the end, it does not matter to me whether you choose to become a one-planer or a two-planer. What does matter is this: Work only on the personal fundamentals geared to your type technique. Turn the pages to see a side-by-side comparison of these basics.

What plane is Tiger on?

As Tiger Woods’ swing continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see whether he eventually becomes a one- or two-plane swinger. At the time this photo was taken, in 2004, Tiger had elements of both methods in his swing: a perfect one-plane spine angle and body turn, with a two-plane left-arm position. J.H.

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