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Stickney: Plane shifts used by the pros

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One of the most perplexing aspects of golf for the average player is how the club should transition. In fact, the “over the top” motion is what keeps all of the teaching professionals in business! On Tour, you see many different ways to move the club on the way down and Homer Kelley, in his book, The Golfing Machine, identified seven different ways to transition the club. In this article, we’ll only discuss a few of them.

The first two shifts we’ll examine are the extremes of up and around.

Up and Under

This swing model is made famous by Jim Furyk and obviously there are many levels of up and under but the basic idea is to lift the club to the top which gives you more room to “drop it under” on the way down. Some people love this feeling and it is quite simple when practiced a time or two.

You will notice a takeaway that is slightly lifted and outside moving the arms into a more upright position at the top. From there the arms fall down and behind the player allowing the club to be delivered from the inside.

Around and Under

The opposite player of the Up and Under player takes the club more around the body into a short, flat, and tight position like Matt Kucher. It is here that some players feel that it is much simpler to come from the inside when the club is in a lower and more rounded position at the top.

This swing model is exemplified with a takeaway that works around the body off the start and continues all the way to the top placing the club in a “flatter” condition. From there the club basically returns from the inside as a slight shift is made to the inside. Some players feel this is the easiest way to move the club to the inside.

Now that we have covered the two extreme positions of Up and Around, the rest of the world is somewhere in the middle of these two positions. Personally, it does not matter where you play from as long as the club moves into a solid position on the way down.

Let’s discuss the middle positions and how to transition the club from there…

Reverse Shift

The Reverse Shift is shown best by Nick Faldo back in his hey-day. The club is taken to the top and the entire triangle formed by the arms is shifted rearward to begin the downswing thus moving the club into an inside delivery position.

When the entire triangle falls rearward it allows the club to flatten and the club to move from the inside. Transitional tempo is the key to this move because it won’t work if you get too fast.

Flatten the Shaft

Most of the players today on Tour are subscribing to this type of plane shift as the club shaft flattens out behind the player allowing the hands to move down the correct path. If the hands get too far behind the player then the path can easily shift too rightward in the above swing pattern but not with this swing model.

Here you can see that the club shaft flattened and the clubhead fell behind my hands lowering the center of mass and this places the club in an inside delivery position with the hands in the correct position at belt-high. This is a great way to transition the club for people who tend to get “stuck” on the way down.

So now that we’ve seen the most common plane shift models that move the club back to the inside which one is the best or the easiest? Basically, the one that makes the most sense to you as a player. One of these styles will feel “easier” than the other ones and allow you to shift your swing path more rightward during impact so you can move the ball right to left easier (for the right-handed player).

Enjoy trying these shifts and remember that all four can work for you at any given time!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. geohogan

    Jul 17, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    Hitting with the hands is much too timing dependent
    …however it is only by controlling our dominant hand
    can we consistently control the plan shifts.

    it has been said, wisely; that the hands are our external brain.
    Our entire physiology supports the intention we have of our hands
    and dominant hand in particular.

  2. geohogan

    Jul 7, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Only from P6 achieved by Sergio Garcia or Ben Hogan, with clubhead far behind not only the hands but behind our body.
    is it possible, to square the clubface by rotation of the torso…. with no release.of the hands.

    Then and only then impact becomes: SIDE ON

    • geohogan

      Jul 8, 2019 at 1:57 pm

      Another P6 trait shared by Ben Hogan and Sergio Garcia
      is to have butt of club pointing at the ball, at P6. ie when club shaft is parallel to the ground in DS.

      Cant get stuck if we wait “delayed the hit”, for body turn to square
      the club head.

      Hitting with hands is much too timing dependent.

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Me and My Golf: The difference between long and short irons

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Long irons vs. short irons. In this week’s Impact Show, we discuss the differences between long irons and short irons. We talk through the different ball positions, postures, and techniques for both irons and give you some golfing drills to help you differentiate both irons!

 

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Chipping causes nightmares for so many amateur golfers. This s mainly due to three core mistakes. In this video, I talk about what those mistakes are, and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

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The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between better recreational golfers and those not so good—and also between the tour professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—is the consistency of their pre-shot routines. It is really easy to dismiss something that happens before the ball is even struck as irrelevant, but I strongly urge you to reconsider if you think this way.

To have a set routine to follow religiously before every shot gives you the best chance to execute the shot the way you intend. To do otherwise just leaves too much to chance. Indulge me here and I’ll offer you some proof.

It’s been a while back now, but I still remember an interesting account on this subject that used the final round of the 1996 Masters—when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Norman—as his statistical proof. This particular analyst reviewed the entire telecast of that final round and timed the routine of both players for every shot. What he discovered was that Norman got quicker and less consistent in his pre-shot routine throughout his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

A lot of time has passed since then, but all competitive tour professionals pay very close attention to their pre-shot routines these days. I urge you to watch them as they go through the motions before each shot. And notice that most of them “start over” if they get distracted during that process.

While I do not think it is practical for recreational golfers to go into such laborious detail for every shot, let me offer some suggestions as to how a repeatable pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land and roll; I also think it’s realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches and putts. They are all very different challenges, of course, and as you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

To begin, I think the best starting point is from behind the ball, setting up in your “mind’s eye” the film-clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight and path it will take. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and “feel” the swing that will produce that shot path for you. Your exact routine can start when you see that shot clearly, and begin your approach the ball to execute the shot. From that “trigger point”, you should do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

For me (if I’m “on”), I’ll step from that behind-the-shot position, and set the club behind the ball to get my alignment. Then I step into my stance and ball position, not looking at the target, but being precise not to change the alignment of the clubhead–I’m setting my body up to that established reference. Once set, I take a look at the target to ensure that I feel aligned properly, and take my grip on the club. Then I do a mental check of grip pressure, hover the club off the ground a bit to ensure it stays light, and then start my backswing, with my only swing thought being to feel the end of the backswing.

That’s when I’m “on,” of course. But as a recreational player, I know that the vast majority of my worst shots and rounds happen when I depart from that routine.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. Don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot. Heck, you can even do that at home in your backyard. So, guys and ladies, there’s my $0.02 on the pre-shot routine. What do you have to add?

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