There is no doubt that making an “on-plane” backswing will improve the consistency of your shots. When the club falls “off plane” during the backswing, it must rejoin the correct plane at some point during the downswing for solid contact. The more “re-routing” that must occur to return the clubface squarely to the ball, the greater chance for inconsistency. Follow these two simple checkpoints during the backswing and you will have a much better chance to keep your swing on plane and hit more solid shots.
The first key checkpoint is what we refer to as Position #1(see left photo). The correct motion of the hands and arms as the club starts away from the ball is essential to an on-plane backswing. The arms must swing back as the hands remain relatively close to the body.
In addition, the wrists need to hinge upward. The common mistake is to roll the wrists to the right during the takeaway. Rolling the wrists forces the club head to the “inside” and immediately the club is “off plane”. Generally, if the club head swings too far to the inside at position #1, the shaft will swing along a very steep plane during the second half of the backswing almost guaranteeing an “over-the-top” downswing.
The second key checkpoint is what we refer to as Position #2 (see right photo). If I drew a line from the shaft of the club down to the ground, that line would point at – or very close – to the extended target line. This is ideal and from here not too much can go wrong back to the ball.
We always use the phrase "you have to feel it to fix it". Obviously it is impossible to see where your club is during the swing so I recommend rehearsing swinging to these positions in front of a mirror. This will allow you to see and feel the ideal backswing.
John Stahlschmidt is the Head Instructor for the TOUR Academy at TPC Scottsdale.
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