The takeaway, backswing, downswing and follow through are all important parts of the golf swing plane, but the most important checkpoint along that plane is where the club makes impact with the ball. If the club head is not square to the ball at impact, the ball will not be in the club’s sweet spot and will not travel to the intended target. Depending on where the ball lands, you will be able to judge where your club head was at impact and then look at how to fix the swing.
Identifying the problem and where your club is at impact is the first step. If you hook the ball, meaning pulling it too far to the left (for a right-handed player), that means your club face was closed, or too far inside at impact. A slice is the opposite of a hook. It is caused when the club face is open, or too far outside at impact. A slice causes the ball to travel way to the right (right-handed player). These are two of the most common mistakes at impact, but there are several others, including topping, popping up, thin, fat and of course the worst of all, the whiff.
Once a player notices that they continue to make a mistake at impact, how do they fix it? Oftentimes players try little adjustments that may work for a short time, but will never be long lasting. For example, slicers may try to aim more to the left in their set-up to the ball, or tilt their wrists more to the inside before their takeaway. These “fixes” may work on a couple of shots, but to really solve the problem, players must go back to the beginning of the golf swing plane and break it down step by step to see where they are faltering.
The takeaway, the backswing and the downswing on the way to impact, must all be on the same swing plane. The club should always remain parallel to the club’s angle at address of the ball. If the takeaway causes the club to go too far outside or inside, this could result in the slice or hook players have. If the backswing or downswing leaves the plane, the club face will be open or closed at impact, causing missed shots. Turning the wrists too much or losing grip of the club can also result in poor ball striking. Continued practice drills and analyzing your swing plane will help you identify and correct these problems.
Watching tutorial videos and reading golf books can also help, but in terms of figuring out your own individual golf swing plane problems, there is no substitute for first-hand advice from a professional instructor. The instructor can watch your swing and correctly identify where you are making the mistake. Instructors will show you the path you are taking towards the ball and the reasons why you are ending up in the wrong position at impact. Once the problem is finally fixed, players can enjoy solid impact, better distance and increased accuracy with their golf shots.