One Plane / Two Plane Golf Swing Explained

golf swing

The differences between a one plane and a two plane are quite obvious… when you know what to look for. So let’s start this discussion off with a look at the one plane golf swing.

Two of the most famous one plane golfers were Ben Hogan and Moe Norman.

Moe Norman is more extreme than Ben Hogan, so we’ll look at him first.

When you see Moe Norman setup it looks very odd. Here is a picture of his setup and I have drawn a line through the shaft, which is going through the middle of his back (that’s important, so keep this in mind as we move through this):

As you’ll notice… Moe’s hands are very high and his club is set back a foot or so from the ball.

Now the key to the one plane, is to keep the club shaft parallel to the line that is created at setup. Then the goal is to get the club shaft back onto the same plane line that was created at setup once you reach impact. I will show you some images from a video of Moe Norman doing this.

Backswing

Downswing

Impact

Follow-Through

At crucial parts Moe’s club shaft is parallel with the shaft line that he started with at setup. Moe has a pretty unusual looking swing though. I don’t know who came up with the term ‘Natural Golf’ but that doesn’t look too natural to me!

So let’s look at the more “normal” setup of golf legend, Ben Hogan.

Setup

Backswing

Downswing

Impact

Follow-Through

So that’s a look at a couple of famous one plane golfers. There is a measurement you can use to help determine if a golfer has a one plane or two plane golf swing. 

But before we move onto the two plane approach, I just want to make a very important point about one plane swings.

As well as Ben Hogan and Moe Norman hit the ball with their one plane swings… they hit an awful lot of balls (i.e. MILLIONS)! And that leads nicely into my next point, which may explain why they needed to do that…

Pretty much every golfer who starts playing the game of golf, plays with a two plane swing. Jack Nicklaus has a classic two  so let’s look at his set up…

Setup

Backswing

Downswing

Impact

Follow-Through

Now here is an extreme opposite of Moe Norman. Jim Furyk and his two plane golf swing.

Setup

Backswing

Downswing

Impact

Follow-Through

Wow… Jim’s got a lot going on! But he’s a great golfer who proves you can play great golf with a two plane swing, just like you can with a one plane swing.

My personal opinion, based on the golfers that are great with the one plane swing, is you need to hit a lot of balls for it to work. If you don’t want to be a range rat, then a two plane swing or hybrid swing plane is what you should be looking to do. 

Before I leave you however, I just want to point out an easy way to measure whether a swing is a one plane swing or a two plane swing. Because at the half way point in the backswing and downswing, a person can have what looks like a one plane swing and yet be a two plane.

You can measure this yourself (for your own swing) if you have a video and some video analysis software.

What you do is get to the top of the golfer’s swing and measure the angle of the left arm and the angle of the shoulders. If the angle difference is less than 12 degrees then it’s a one plane swing. If it’s more than 12 degrees then it’s a two plane swing. Here’s some examples:

Ben Hogan – 2 Degrees Difference

Moe Norman – 0 Degrees Difference

Zac Johnson – 7 Degrees Difference

Matt Kucher – 1 Degree Difference

Let’s look at the differences between some famous two plane swingers:

Jack Nicklaus – 28 Degrees Difference

Jim Furyk – 48 Degrees Difference

David Toms – 35 Degrees Difference

Fred Couples – 39 Degrees Difference

So hopefully now you have a clear understanding of the main differences between a one plane swing and a two plane swing. As I’ve already said, I don’t think any extreme version is right.

I would never teach a person to swing like Moe Norman. Equally, I would never teach a person to swing like Jim Furyk.

I like the middle ground and both swing plane theories have their good points that I think can be molded into one. 

By Jeff Richmond, Director of Instruction, ConsistentGolf