Two Key Checkpoints for an “On Plane” Backswing

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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The correct swing plane is a huge key to more consistent ball striking. When the club falls off plane during the backswing, it has to rejoin the plane at some point during the downswing and the more “re routing” that goes on, the greater chance for inconsistency.

Follow these 2 simple checkpoints during the backswing and you will be well on your way to better ball striking.

• The first key checkpoint is what we refer to as position #1. (see picture #1) The correct assembly of the hands and arms initially is essential to an on plane backswing. The arms need to swing back as the hands remain relatively close to the body. In addition to this, the hands need to hinge up and down.  The mistake most golfers make is rolling the hands during the takeaway.  This motion forces the club head to the “inside” and right away the golf club is off plane. Generally speaking, if the club head swings too far to the inside during the first part of the backswing, the shaft will swing on too steep of a plane during the second half of the backswing, usually resulting in an over the top downswing.

• The second key checkpoint is what we refer to as position #2. (see picture #2) If I drew a line from the shaft of the club down to the ground, that line would point at my golf ball. This is an ideal position. Usually from here, not too much can go wrong the rest of the way back. 

We always use the term, ‘you have to feel it to fix it’. Obviously, it is impossible to see where your golf club is during the golf swing. I would recommend rehearsing these motions in front of a mirror, this will allow you to see and feel the ideal backswing.

Practice these 2 key positions, give the changes some time to become incorporated into your swing and expect more consistent ball striking.

John is the head instructor for the TOUR Academy at TPC Scottsdale, home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Email John for lesson pricing or to comment on this tip at