Lower Your Golf Handicap- Break 80

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.

Jack 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 golf tips, golf lessons and golf instruction.

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