When it comes to swinging the club around you in golf there’s a “Corridor of Success” and two “Do Not Enter Zones” that you should avoid at all costs. Different body types, proportions and swing shapes do allow for some wiggle room when looking at a golfer’s swing path but if your golf club strays too far from that proper path you’re in big trouble.
Most players on my lesson tee get the club badly out of position early because they just try to do too much. At the start of the swing higher handicap golfers just can’t resist the urge to control the club with their hands and wrists. Many of them are tied up with tension as they stand over the ball then they jerk the club away from the ball to control its path. If, instead of snatching the club away from the ball, they’d just relax and allow the club to swing more naturally, the club would swing on a simpler path and end up in a better, more balanced position. You may need a lesson or two to really understand the path you’re looking for but once you understand what the proper path is, your shots will get much more consistent.
At the top of the backswing many players also move the club outside of the acceptable swing path corridor. The urge to swing bigger to hit the ball farther leads to golf clubs that either end up too far around behind the golfer or too high over their head. Trying to swing bigger or longer is another urge that leads to clubs entering the “Do Not Enter Zones” that make a balanced, consistent downswing all but impossible.
Next time you’re practicing, focus more on controlling the path of the golf club and let go of the idea that bigger is better when it comes to your back swing. Take some practice swings and then hit some shots making sure that your club swings inside the “Corridor of Success” and you’ll start hitting better, straighter shots.
To understand the proper swing path better have a look at the photo on the next page. You’ll see two red” plane” lines traveling through me that start at the ball. The lower line travels from the ball straight up the golf club through my belt line and exits through my lower back. That line is called the “shaft plane” because it mirrors the shaft plane at address. The higher plane line starts at the top of the ball and travels up just over my shoulders. I call that plane line the “Hogan Plane” because Ben Hogan was the first player/teacher to reference it. He explained in his 1957 book, Five Lessons, the Modern Fundamentals of Golf, that the club should never rise over that plane.
The visual he used might be the most famous image in all golf instruction. Hogan illustrated a giant pane of glass that rested on the top of the ball at the bottom and on his shoulders as it continued upward. Hogan’s head poked through a hole in the glass as he stood over the ball and swung his club to the top. His concept, and it’s a good one is that the clubhead and shaft must stay below the pane of glass. If you shatter the glass, you’ll shatter your chances of hitting the ball well.