Flat vs. Upright Swing Plane

Your swing plane is dictated by the angle you create with the ground as you swing.  We use two specific terms for swings planes – either flat or upright.  An upright swing plane is very vertical as shown in the image – whereas the flatter swing plane is much more baseball like. Each of these swing paths encourages different ball flight patterns as well.  Put bluntly, a flat swing path will cause a hook and encourage a push; while conversely, an upright swing path will cause a slice and encourage pull.


How does you swing plane cause these specific ball flights? Simple, your swing plane will affect your swing path and ball contact. I’ve gone into greater detail below:

swing plane differences causes fix

Flat Swing Plane
When you have a flat swing, the club tends to settle on the heel at address. If you make a swing and the heel makes contact with the ground first, the club will close. People with this swing plane also tend to stand further away from the ball – this gives you plenty of room to swing the club, but it will also force you to reach as you come into impact.  This almost certainly means you’ll be attacking the ball from the inside – initiating your push.  Lastly, a flat swing encourages additional wrist rotation coming into impact… without proper timing; the result is a closed clubface.  Add this all together… and a flat swing plane tends to result in a big push hook. 


Upright Swing Plane

In comparison, with an upright swing path, the toe of the club commonly makes contact with the ground before impact, effectively opening the clubface. Players also tend to stand too close to the ball with this type of swing plane – this leaves you little to no room to approach the ball on the proper path, therefore increasing the chance of a pull by coming over-the-top.  The classic over-the-top move will just exacerbate your slice by adding a steep angle of attack, reducing your power and limiting your wrist rotation to your list of symptoms. You’ll be left with a wicked pull-slice that lacks any significant power.  


Keep in mind that the above descriptions are basically a worst case scenario – but in my many years of teaching, these are some of the most common faults associated with these types of swing planes. Many great professionals have used either type of swing planes and succeeded, but they make other compensations in their swings to offset the potential dangers.  Personally, I think this game is hard enough, for simplicity sake, try to stick to a swing that travels along a more ideal, neutral plane.


Some food for thought… 


Leave a Reply
  1. Hi Trent, thanks for the comment. Swings tends to be more upright the taller the golfer gets… I’d be quit surprised if you’re swing is too flat though with your height. Do you often it a hook, or have consistency issues?

    Were your clubs properly fit for your swing? Quite often, if you’re using a set that’s too short or flat, you can develop a flatter swing as a result.

    Let me know.

  2. Im 6″4 and also have a flat swing…my handicap is 3 but i have decided to rebuild my swing after seeing it on video yesterday. SCARY flat…..

  3. Hey Mike, I wouldn’t change a thing… she has a great swing, and for an iron, I’d barely call that swing too upright. Her backswing appears as though she’s lifting the club up vs. “swing it” – this move likely is forcing here to roll the face open on the backswing. I’d bet this has to do with the weight of the club however – and she’ll outgrow this as she becomes stronger.

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