Golf Swing Video: Flat vs. Upright Backswing Plane -- Matt Kuchar vs. Fred Couples

Posted by GolfTipEditor | | ,

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 Fred Couples golf swing plane
Matt Kuchar has a low, shallow takeaway.  Freddie Couples has a high, abrupt takeaway.
Several things stand out.
  • 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.
Overall, you would have to agree that they look quite different 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:
matt kuchar fred couples golf swing downswing
Despite their very different takeaways, Matt and Fred have their clubs in similar positions as they attack the ball.
Despite the very different paths that these gentlemen have taken to get to this point, their clubs are now in very similar positions.  Matt is still a bit more inside than Fred because he is playing a draw.  Fred has cleared his hips a bit more than Matt because he is playing a fade.  But, overall, despite the differences in their swing planes, these guys look a whole lot more similar than different at this point!

What can the Occasional Golfer learn from this comparison?  Mostly, I think, that you don't hit the ball on the backswing, so your positions on the backswing are not nearly as important as many people would have you believe.  Backswing positions are important only to the extent that they enable you to have a powerful, correct, and reproducible downswing that allows you to release the club down the target line.

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.

Did you like this side-by-side video comparison of Matt and Freddie?  Then tell your friends!  Like, Share, +1, Tweet or Email below!

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