(This post was inspired by the almost universal obsession with hitting a draw, as well as the misplaced negative obsession with being over the plane. The two statements in bold are all you need to read if the rest of my verbosity gets too much for you 😀 )
I apologize if you were hoping for some new revelation, move or system that is going to add 30 yards to your drives and take 10-15 shots of your handicap. It is not.
This is a different way to perceive all of the nonsense that is out there and how to make an easier and better approach to the golf swing.
I will start with three statements I don’t think many would argue with.
1. Keeping a consistent plane with the club head would be the simplest and most efficient way to return the club to the ball and hit a good, solid shot.
2. If you are not on plane, you are either underneath it, or above it.
3. There is no such thing as a perfect golf swing and you need a margin for error, even if you are among the greatest players on Earth.
So assuming these statements are mostly true, here is how I see it.
We live in a golf culture where over the top is the devil and we do everything we can to get rid of it. Look at what Peter Kostis said about Bryce Molder the other day and he is so barely over the top you need slow-mo photography to see it. This pattern of “doing the opposite of bad” to get a better result, is getting us in a bad situation with our swings.
We live in a golf culture where we are told to:
1. Swing Inside/Out
2. Low and Slow
3. A draw is the preferred shot
4. Widen the arc going back (which can only make you narrow it coming down)
5. Hold the Lag
6. Increase the Lag
7. Start the lower body turning before the upper body
Doing only one of these consciously, at even a moderate level, will likely get you stuck and most likely underneath the plane. Many golfers do multiples of these consciously and I am sure a large group are presently doing them all.
Now, let’s look at what issues being over the plane and under the plane create.
Under the plane and doing too many of the above list is causing an increasing number of golfers to get the shanks. If you look at that list it only makes sense. The resulting bad shots from being stuck even a little under the plane are big blocks and snap hooks.
For you swingophiles, when you are stuck under the plane it is also common to lose the tush line and/or “get in front of it” because your body reacts poorly when the club is stuck behind you.
The way the club gets to the ball when stuck under the plane is to shut down the turn and flip with the hands just before impact. The way the club gets back to the ball when a little over the plane is to turn harder. Are you starting to see where I am going with this?
When you are over the plane a bit you are usually going to hit a cut that will have less curvature than the draw/hook the analogous angle from under the plane creates. Pulls are also a problem, but not as far off line as the blocks being under the plane cause.
IMO, the greatest golfer in history, relative to how much he practiced, was Bruce Lietski. He came way over the top. How many times have you ever seen Craig Stadler or his son Kevin not hit a solid iron shot. Over the top, both of them. Currently, the man on top of the list for winning the most majors…was often over the top and all four of these gents hit cuts.
I am not suggesting over the top is good, I am suggesting that OTT is not as evil as we have been led to believe. The OTT that causes a slice is bad. The OTT that causes a fade or a slight pull is FAR superior to being underneath.
I suggest that assuming that the club head being on plane is the ideal and needing a margin for error…that working from a little over the plane is preferred, easier to time and the offline shots are going to be less offline.
Now if a draw is your natural shot…awesome, stick with it. If your natural swing is a little underneath the plane, so be it. Many great players have been there too (Tiger Woods).
I have been stuck under the plane my whole career and the more speed you create, the worse off this condition is.
Here is what I am suggesting. If you are OTT, it is not the end of the world. Try and minimize it, most often, by not taking it so far inside on the takeaway.
I am also suggesting that all of this modern golf swing theory and cliches does nothing but put too many swing thoughts in our heads and gets us stuck under the plane…because…
I believe for most golfers, especially ones that don’t have 40 hours a week to practice golf (1-2 hours at most is common), that working from a little above the plane is an easier place to manage your game from. It also allows for softer short iron shots and short game shots.
Lastly, working from over the plane is better if for no other reason than to correct it during the swing involves your body rotating better, where correcting being underneath requires the body shutting down the rotation, using all hands and hoping to time it just right.
Since over the top has gotten such a bad rap, I am going against my better judgmental and policy by coining a term. I am going to call it “covering the plane” and that is what I am working on as I write this.
One last thing. I am not arguing perfect golf swing mechanics, physics, ball flight laws or anything else that technology and research has allowed gurus to create swing systems. I am saying that all of these perfect mechanics and systems don’t allow for a margin of error and coming in from a little over the plane allows for a bigger margin of error than coming in from under the plane does. Being a little steeper also allows a little easier path to hit down and through the ball…so stop trying so frickin hard to swing perfectly and hit a draw.
FYI-My winning drive in 1992 was a cut. My second places drives in 1991 and 1993 were cuts. The longest drive I ever hit in a long drive competition was a cut.