The Single-Axis/One-Plane Golf Swing: The Debate Rages On
By Jack Moorehouse
Is a single-axis golf swing the best way to hit a ball? Fueled by
the success of the Moe Norman, who popularized the single-axis approach and was
widely known for power, consistency, and correctness at impact, the debate rages
on. He introduced a concept called “Natural Golf” many years ago. It’s not
likely to stop anytime soon.
Norman is among the best ballstrikers ever. Even the great Ben
Hogan admired his swing. Hogan was once quoted as saying, “Moe is the only guy
that I would walk across the street to watch hit balls.” Hogan was not alone. So
what’s behind the debate? Let’s take a closer look at the single-axis swing.
While the single-axis swing isn’t something I talk about in my
golf lessons and golf tips, it still intrigues. Taking away and returning a club
on a single plane—not the two planes of the modern approach, simplifies the golf
swing. At the very least, as I explain in golf instruction sessions when asked
about it, it improves the most important part of the swing—impact.
Key Difference Between Swings
The key difference between the conventional golf swing and the single-axis swing
is the relationship between address and impact. With the conventional swing, the
player sets up with his arms and hands directly below the shoulders, forming two
separate lines that create an angle between the arms and clubshaft.
With the single-axis swing, the address position aligns the club on the same
plane as the impact plane. In other words, the single-axis swing starts the club
on the same impact plane and stays there throughout. Thus, the golf swing is
simplified. Solid ballstriking, which I emphasize in my golf lessons and golf
tips, is facilitated.
With the conventional swing, the player takes a narrow stance with the lead arm
on a different line than the clubshaft. The trail hand is on top of the club and
the hands are behind the clubhead. With the single-axis swing, the hands are
positioned in front of the clubhead with every club. This position forms a
straight line—the same line that occurs at impact when the lead arm and
clubshaft align. Moe Norman called it “the rod.”
Since the conventional swing starts on a different plane at address, the player
must hinge his or her wrists to get the club back on plane. The address position
also creates a steeper shoulder plane. Also, the spine tilts forward a little,
away from the original spine angle going into the downswing. Since the
single-axis swing starts on the same plane, the player keeps the club on plane
by maintaining the relationship between the lead arm and the lead shoulder
established at address. The spine tilt remains the same as at address and the
shoulder remains on plane.
Top of the Swing
The traditional swing forces a steeper, more vertical arm movement to the top of
the backswing. The spine moves toward the target, in a reversed C position, and
the right elbow (for right-handers) has been lifted and will need to drop down
to get the club back on plane in the downswing. With the single-axis swing,
there’s no need to drop the arms into the slot. They’re already there. The
wrists are cocked and ready to deliver as much power as possible into the back
of the ball.
With the conventional swing the lower body rotates with the lead leg
straightening and the back foot lifting to create room for the lifting of the
clubhead into impact. The trail elbow is slightly behind the trail hip, which
can “trap” the arm behind the body. With the single-axis swing, the head remains
behind the ball, the trail foot is on the ground, and the player’s spine tilt
maintained. The lead leg remains flexed and stable. Nor is there any need to
move the body to make room for a steeper shaft.
The impact positions of both the conventional and single-axis swing are similar
at impact, as they should be. The key difference is, as we have pointed out, how
they arrived there—through multiple planes or on a single plane. What’s more,
the single-axis swing produces minimal movement throughout the swing, compared
to the traditional swing.
The conventional swing requires a full release of the entire body, with
excessive hip rotation and the need to lift the trail foot off the ground. Also,
the forearms must cross to square the clubface. That’s unlike the single-axis
swing, where the arms power past a flexed, yet posted lead leg and moves
straight toward the target, like a pendulum.
That’s the single-axis swing in a nutshell. Many of the fundamentals of the
single-axis swing can be seen in today’s Tour players, like Craig Perry, Tom
Lehman, and Mike Weir, while Mark O’Meara is almost a carbon copy of Moe Norman
in the release position.
So the debate rages on. The conventional swing has many proponents, but the
single-axis swing also has its share of advocates. If you struggle with
consistency, you may find it worth while to investigate, what is at the least, a
simpler way of achieving a solid impact position. It certainly can’t hurt.
Moorehouse is the author of the best-selling book “How
To Break 80 And Shoot Like The Pros.” He is NOT a golf pro, rather a
working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower
their handicap immediately. He has a free weekly newsletter with the latest
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