You have seen this iconic drawing many times I’m sure.
The drawing of Ben Hogan at the top of his backswing with a glass pane representing the ideal golf swing plane.
Many people believe that Hogan had the best golf swing. In fact, GolfWRX ran a poll, asking readers whose golf swing is their favorite. Even though many of those people never saw Hogan’s swing on anything other than grainy film, Hogan has the 6th favorite swing behind Scott, Oosthuizen, Woods (Harmon era), Couples, and McIlroy.
Nowhere on that list is Jim Furyk.
Furyk has the lowest score in PGA Tour tournament history (58) and lets’s not forget he has also shot a 59.
One of my favorite Feherty quotes is David picking Furyk’s swing.
“It looks like a one armed man wrestling a snake in a phone booth”
That quote sends a message that Furyk’s golf swing plane can’t be as smooth as Scott’s or Hogan’s.
Trust me it isn’t.
But Furyk does one thing that allows him to get his club back on his original swing plane so he can consistently hit the ball close to the hole and sink putts.
He doesn’t lose his posture.
Feherty’s joke isn’t too far from the truth, Furyk’s swing is upright, and his arms and hands are all over the place, but Furyk never loses his setup posture throughout the swing, and this allows him to get the club back on his original swing plane before he hits the golf ball.
The most common swing characteristics that amateur golfers have involves losing posture, whether that be outright losing their posture, early extending, or having a flat shoulder plane, not keeping their posture is the common denominator.
The secret to having a repeatable golf swing plane is good posture.
We Aren’t Pros
That’s the thing. We don’t have the time to practice like the professionals, so it is harder for us amateurs to get our timing right, so the clubhead hits the ball squarely.
It is hard to groove a swing and get it on one plane when you spend maybe an hour a week on the range.
But let’s see if we can find a common denominator in the professional’s swing that can help us swing better.
You’re going to be surprised at this next statement.
Having a one plane swing is helpful, but not as important as being able to keep your angles and posture during your swing.
Let’s take a look at Jim Furyk’s swing.
Here is a video of Furyk’s swing.
You’ve gotta admit; the swing is all over the place, and there doesn’t appear that his golf swing plane looks anything like a pane of glass.
It looks like his hands come out in front of his face and the club head is all over the place. I think Jim could win a medal in rhythmic gymnastics if you give him a year or so of practice.
I shouldn’t pick on Jim, after all, he has shot a 58, a 59, and won the Fed Ex Cup. What I’m saying is that his swing is unorthodox, to say the least.
Let’s take a look at Furyk’s swing slow motion and listen to Peter Kostis @peterjkostis explain Jim’s swing and how he gets the club back to the ball so consistently.
Golf Swing Plane
You heard Kostis mention that Furyk brings the club back on plane then the club goes vertical, loops at the top and drops back down on the original golf swing plane.
I’m not a swing instructor, I don’t want to be a swing instructor, and I don’t pretend to be a swing instructor, so I’m not going even going to guess how Furyk repeats that swing so consistently.
What I did hear Kostis say that Jim turns around his spine angle. As in his spine stays at one angle.
I think retaining the setup position, keeping the angles between the knees, hips, and upper body the same is an essential part of any golf swing.
Furyk’s Swing Posture
I took the last video of Furyk’s swing and drew three red lines on his body while he is in his setup position.
The lines run from his ankle to knee, knee to hip, and hip to neck along his spine angle.
If Furyk keeps his posture the angle of his knee, hip, and spine will not change during his swing.
Keeping these angles will make it easier for Jim to rotate back and forward in a smooth arc regardless of what his hands and arms do.
Near Top of Backswing
The lines are the same lines; I advanced the video but didn’t touch or move the lines.
You can see that the knee and hip angles are the same.
In fact, his legs and spine haven’t moved off the lines. You can see the club and hands have moved considerably, but not the body.
The video has been advanced to the impact position, as Kostis said, his hands are very close to his body, but the angles have not changed.
Yes, his leg has moved off the line as he powers through the golf ball, but the angles haven’t changed. Especially his spine angle, that line is still attached to his neck.
What Does This Have To Do With Swing Plane?
After looking at 100’s of swings, both professional and amateur, the golf swing plane isn’t as important as some make it out to be.
I’m not arguing that keeping a swing on or as close to one plane doesn’t make it easier to hit the golf ball more consistently. Because it does, especially when you don’t practice very often like most recreational golfers.
Even Tour pros for that matter, Steve Stricker is a prime example. He has played very well on a limited schedule with less practice time.
How close do the professionals keep their club near a perfect swing plane?
Well, you have seen Furyk’s swing, but the three images below show Steve Stricker, Rory McIlory, and Jim Furyk’s club shaft angles at address and near the top of the backswing (blue lines) and near impact (orange line).
The Swing Plane Doesn’t Need To Be The Same
But it Helps
As you can see, Stricker swing plane is about as perfect as you can get.
McIlory is close at the top but steeper at impact.
Furyk is almost vertical at the top, and much steeper at impact then address.
It looks to me that the amount of shoulder turn at impact has a bearing on the club shaft plane at impact.
Steve hasn’t turned his shoulders at all at impact; Rory has turned quite a bit at impact; Jim has opened up quite a bit, almost facing the target at impact.
Having the club shaft on plane at impact doesn’t appear to be that important.
So I looked at the club shaft plane when the hands have reached hip level. Even though I didn’t include the images in this article, I found the same pattern; the club shaft is rarely on one swing plane.
Keeping Posture Will Help Your Swing Plane
Even though not all of the professionals have a one-plane swing, most amateur golfers should try to simplify their golf swing.
The easiest way to do this is to improve your mobility & stability so your arms can rotate freely around your spine without the body moving up & and down or swaying & sliding through the ball.
What Does This All Mean?
Recreational golfers should take a page from Steve Stricker’s book and keep the swing as simple as possible, especially if we don’t have the time to practice.
Simpler is better.
More importantly, all golfers should work on their posture and their ability to separate movement between their lower and upper body.
Hand-eye coordination, with practice, can put the clubhead on the ball even if the golf swing plane isn’t perfect.
But there is a limit to the amount of movement that hand-eye coordination can handle.
What will help, is having a stable base, strong legs, stable knees, and strong core to help the hips rotate like they are in a cylinder.
Being able to keep a neutral back position and separate movement between the lower body and upper body so the arms can rotate around the spine will do more for your game than trying to keep the golf swing on one plane.
What Do Professional Golfers Have in Common?
It isn’t a one plane golf swing, it isn’t the hand position at the top of the backswing, it isn’t opening the shoulders at impact.
What they do have in common is good swing posture.
Some golfers might be upright, others have a flat swing, some like Furyk have an upright backswing and a flat downswing, but what they all have in common is they keep their knee, hip, and spine angle the same during the golf swing.
Time Better Spent
Instead of spending hours on the range to find that perfect golf swing plane, it would be time better spent improving your mobility & stability and improve your golf swing posture.
Let’s look at it this way, has working hours out on the range helped that much? If so great, if not, try something else.
Work on your mobility.
To learn more about losing your posture go to my articles on the following topics.
Send Me a Video
If you think you lose posture, you can send me a short video of your golf swing from the down the line view. Use your smartphone to have a friend take a video and send it to me.
I’ll take a look at the video and let you know.
My e-mail address is email@example.com
Don’t Worry It Can Be Fixed
Loss of posture is the most common swing characteristic, especially if you consider early extension loss of posture (I do).
Once identified, the physical limitations that cause the loss of posture can be corrected with some simple exercises.
To see the procedure to identifying and correcting mobility, stability, and swing characteristics let me send you a free guide I have written.
Click the button below and I will e-mail you my free guide 11 Steps to a Successful Golf Fitness Program.