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The One Plane Swing Is Not Ben Hogan's Golf Swing

Instructor Jim Hardy and his book The Plane Truth For Golfers is probably one of the key reasons the one plane golf swing concept has increased in popularity. The fact that great players such as Tiger, VJ, Nicklaus, and many other tour players worked to flatten their swings gives credibility to the movement, even though they weren't specifically working on the one plane swing. Personally, I have mixed feelings about the popularity of the one plane swing. On the plus side, it will hopefully generate more interest in Ben Hogan's golf swing because one plane swing proponents claim Hogan was a one plane swinger (he wasn't). On the negative side, I believe the way the one plane swing is being taught doesn't necessarily make it any better than the upright swing model, although there is potential.

For those who aren't familiar with the "one plane swing" concept, in the very simplest of terms the idea is that the golfer swing in a flatter plane which allows the arms to swing in a plane more closely matching the plane used by the body. In theory, this allows the arms and body to work more cohesively than they do in an upright swing.

Of course, there have been many great players that have used an upright swing, but because the arms swing basically in a different direction than the body, it's more difficult to synchronize the two. Additionally, the upright swing requires at least a fair amount of manipulation from the hands and arms because it isn't the most biomechanically sound movement (arms and body not working together). In other words, the club gets out of position and corrective movements (manipulations) have to be made in order to have a chance to hit a good shot. Sometimes the attempted correction is successful, sometimes it isn't. When manipulation is required to make a golf swing work, the swing is very dependent on timing, which is bad for consistency, and the more timing dependent a swing is, the more likely it will be to fall apart under pressure.

The one plane swing also requires manipulation, possibly even more than the upright swing, depending on how the player applies the concepts. Not only that, there is the slight possibility that a golfer attempting to swing with the one plane concept can get into positions from which hitting a good shot is almost impossible no matter how much manipulation is applied, so care must be taken to avoid this situation.

While it may seem as if Hogan's swing was a one plane swing, the similarities are only superficial and relate more to the backswing than the more important part of the golf swing, the forward swing. If you've read Ben Hogan's Five Lessons, The Modern Fundamentals Of Golf, then you might recall that Ben Hogan's emphasis for the backswing was swing plane, but when it came to the forward swing, Hogan very briefly mentioned forward swing plane and then wrote that "focusing on the forward swing plane would not help the golfer as would focusing on the backswing plane." So despite the one plane swing proponent's claim that Hogan was a one plane swinger, he was not!

I am convinced that the Hogan swing is the ultimate golf swing because there was no manipulation (the only golfer to accomplish this feat), but the one plane swing concept is also possibly a better option than the upright swing model. Again, the problem with the one plane swing (not Hogan's swing) is that it still requires manipulation and there is the possibility that some serious problems can develop, which is why I am not a big fan of the one plane swing concept. If these problems can be avoided, then the one plane swing is probably a better swing model than is the upright swing model

On another, but related note, I find it ironic that some golf commentators have been calling the flatter swing, embraced by many tour professionals, the "modern swing", probably because Tiger and a number of other tour players have been changing their swings in this direction, yet Ben Hogan used this swing (a flat swing, not the one plane swing) to awe inspiring effect over fifty years ago!

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Casey Eberting
Golf Instruction


Houston, Texas


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