In this article, we take a look at two very different approaches to the golf swing plane as demonstrated by Matt Kuchar and Fred Couples.
Matt Kuchar has one of the flattest swing planes on the PGA tour. He wraps the club around his body on the backswing, comes at the ball from the inside, and tends to play a draw. Freddie, on the other hand, has one of the most abrupt and upright takeaways on tour. His backswing and swing plane is mostly "up", not "around", and he tends to play a fade.
To compare the two, we have video from the 2010 Masters, from the par three 16th hole (see the Master's scoreboard in the background?). Both are probably hitting about a seven iron, and the pin is in the same place, since the video was shot on the same day. They also are standing in almost identical parts of the tee box (but at different times of the day, note the shadows are a bit different).
The point is that these guys are attacking the exact same pin on the exact same day, and our vantage point is almost identical. So it's a very fair comparison.
Have a look, here is Matt:
And here is Freddie:
To compare the two swings, run these videos until the shaft is parallel to the ground, and then have a look at the important angles relative to the target line. I have put Fred and Matt side-by-side for easy comparison:
|Matt Kuchar has a low, shallow takeaway. Freddie Couples has a high, abrupt takeaway.|
- Matt is lined up at the target or slightly closed, Fred is lined up open to the target (alignment shown with the blue line).
- Matt's takeaway is low and flat. Fred's is high and upright. The shaft is highlighted in green.
- Both Matt and Fred have the clubface (in yellow) slightly closed at this point in their swings.
Now, if we fast forward to the downswing, to the point where their clubs are once again approximately parallel to the ground, they look a lot more similar than different -- see below:
|Despite their very different takeaways, Matt and Fred have their clubs in similar positions as they attack the ball.|
The other thing to take away from this is, if you are more upright and outside the target line than Freddie or flatter and more inside the target line than Matt on the backswing, you are probably not in a very good position. Check yourself out at the range by making a video on your smartphone. Or find a ground floor window at your house and use it as a mirror to check your position.
One final thought -- most Occasional Golfers will do better with a swing plane that more closely resembles Matt Kuchar's than Freddie Couples'. Most high handicappers fight a slice, and Kuchar's swing plane promotes a draw. On most courses, most of the time, you are better off with a draw. Indeed, the best way to not slice is to learn to hit a draw instead.
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