Are Swing Plane And Angle Of Attack Linked?

Swing plane is probably the most talked about swing characteristic in golf clubs, possibly because it’s quite easy to observe if someone has a more upright or flat backswing based on what we know about the ‘perfect swing plane’ (thanks again YouTube). Therefore, lots of people think they have swing plane problems because it doesn’t conform to this ideal position.

The truth is the perfect swing plane doesn’t exist and the way a lot of people see swing plane is actually incorrect anyway. Swing plane is measured from hip height on your downswing to hip height on your follow through only (like a little semi-circle at the bottom of the swing). Swing plane is not measured at the top of the backswing – therefore meaning that the 3 swings above are not flat, perfect and upright because they haven’t yet moved the club to the point where the measurement starts. We can say that they are moving through some flat or upright positions but it is the end goal that matters – pre-impact, impact and post-impact.

All great ball strikers look something like this  …

Players can have very upright and flat motions and still nail this pre-impact position. In fact, I’d argue most do it that way. So next time you see your buddy complaining that he is too steep (wrong word – means too upright) then it might not be the actual problem that he/she thinks it is.
How does plane link to ball striking and attack angle?

There is a common belief in amateur golf that more upright swings produce steeper attack angles (big divots after the ball); and flatter swings produce shallower attack angles (clean strikes or maybe divot before ball). Well, its not as simple and way more dynamic than that.

Check out the diagram below:

Effectively this shows that the ‘earlier’ you strike the ball in the swing the more steep your impact is and and the ‘later’ you strike the ball the more shallow it becomes. It’s important at this juncture to recognise therefore that swing plane (upright/ flat) is different to attack angle (steep/ shallow). You can have a very upright swing, lean back at impact and strike the ball lots on the ‘later’ shallow side. You can have a super flat swing, get your body ahead of the club and strike it very ‘early’ on the steep side.

There are a million combinations that golfers make work all over the globe and lots of them earn money from doing it. What’s important is that you recognise your pattern and know how to deal with it when it goes wrong.

What’s more is that the super steep backswing that you have been trying to kick out for years might actually be the most important thing that you do to hit the ball well … now there’s some food for thought!

Summary

So, are swing plane and angle of attack linked?

Yes, they do have an influence on each other but be careful with changing things. Some people hit it great with steep swings and some people hit it terribly with perceived ‘perfect’ plane. Just remember, like everything in golf, it’s about knowing how you can make your swing tick.

Is there a perfect swing plane?

Not really, but remember that swing plane exists only at the bottom. You’ll see way more similarities between great players just before impact. You’ll see lots of differences elsewhere.

Should I look to change my swing plane?

Not on your own! You need to consult a coach who understands a) is it vital to change it? b) if there is an issue – what is causing it?  c) how will the rest of your swing sequence be affected by such a change?

 

Lee Wilson

August 2021