We as golfers have heard the term swing plane many times during our golfing careers. But do we really know the definition of it and the bearing upon our golf swing?
Recently, I had a conversation with Dean Reinmuth (top 30 teaching pro ranked by Golf Digest) and I think he described swing plane the best. Dean suggests to think of the swing plane as an imaginary circle. The imaginary circle that represents the swing plane is set at an angle. It is the path on which it is necessary for the club to travel in order to execute the swing correctly.
Beginning at address, the clubhead and shaft should be positioned at the "bottom" of the swing plane. During takeaway into the backswing and at the transition point of the swing, the clubhead and shaft are to remain on the swing plane. These three phases of the swing represent the club traveling "up" the swing plane to "top" of it. Keep in mind the visual of the circle and the shaft of the club dissecting the shoulder during these phases of the swing.
Once the transition is complete, the downswing begins and the clubhead is moving down the swing plane. The path on which the club is traveling down should be the same as on the backswing.
Continuing on with the swing plane, the club is to travel to again the "bottom" of the swing plane for impact with the golf ball. Once impact has occurred with the golf ball the follow-through of the swing occurs, and it is still necessary for the club to travel upon the correct swing plane. This assures that you are releasing the golf club correctly.
The swing plane on the follow through is essentially a "mirror image" of it on the backswing. The golf club, again, must travel up an imaginary circle that dissects your front shoulder up into the finish position.
What does the swing plane represent?
The swing plane represents the path on which your golf club should travel upon during the swing.
Why is it so important for the golf club to travel upon the swing plane?
The golf club must travel upon the correct swing path in order to impact the golf ball correctly. Impacting the golf ball correctly provides the greatest possibility of delivering powerful, accurate, and consistent shots on the course of play.
Oftentimes the golf club does not travel upon the correct swing plane. What happens in such instances?
The path of the club becomes and "outside to in" move resulting in a slice, or an "inside to out" swing plane resulting in a hook. Overall, the club's not traveling on the correct swing plane results in poor shots.
Now that we know what a proper swing plane is within the golf swing and we can visually create a picture of it, how do we develop the proper swing plane?
This is the hard part, and there are no secrets about it. Referring back to my conversation with Dean Reinmuth, he suggests that it is a process of creating "feel" for the proper swing plane. Creating "feel" is a process of knowing where the clubhead is on the swing plane. This allows you to know where your golf club is in regards to the proper swing plane required of the golf swing.
How do you go about creating "feel" within your golf swing?
It is a process of understanding the mechanics of swing and developing the proper swing mechanics within your golf swing.
This allows you to know what the golf club should be doing, where it should be during each phase of the swing, and when it is not where it should be when you are swinging the golf club.
Overall, it becomes a process of recognition. Recognition of what is the right and the wrong movements/positions within the golf swing. Once "feel" is developed within your swing, I would definitely say you are close to mastering the golf swing.
This does require time and effort on your part. But if you are willing to put in the time and effort, rewards on the course will be well documented.