When does golf scientific analysis go too far? What I mean by asking that question is, when does the empirical study of the golf swing get in our way? Does it really help to verify every nuance of the golf swing exactly?
My entire career was steeped in science. For 40 years in my dental practice, I used verifiable,
scientific, evidence-based procedures that were proven by research-based data. I even spent the last years of my professional life as a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry, where I only taught data-based, proven techniques and procedures. But, when it comes to golf, does the scientific method really help us swing better?
I know science will help us understand what is happening in our golf swing and provides us with observable data to guide us...However, For me, it only goes so far...I need to trust what I FEEL in my swing to get quality impact. How I get, there becomes, in the simplest terms, just the method of achieving GREAT IMPACT. Science has little to do with that, in my estimation. If I have great impact and quality golf shots, then I don't care if science is critical of my method!
An example of this is the latest article I read about swinging on one plane by a respected PGA instructor. He says,
"Take, for example, swing plane. Every golfer and their cat has heard about the idea of being 'on plane'. But we don't actually swing with our hands and club down on the same plane. It looks pretty and unified.…but, The latest research in biomechanics shows us that, not only does this not happen in good golfers, but it can actually be detrimental to try and swing in this pretty and clean-lined way...The golf swing actually has more planes than British Airways."
He then quotes Nesbit, Kwan, Mackenzie, and Como's research proving multiple planes of the hands, arms, and club during the swing...
OK, I get it.…biometric science shows us there are multiple planes...But how does that translate to my golf swing..Should I forget the One Plane Swing because of this revelation? NO, NO, NO. I will not. The central point isn't whether I understand the
biomechanics. The major point is that I FEEL like I'm on One Plane! When I setup in my impact position with my clubshaft angle on a straight line through my right elbow, then swing back and through to impact where the clubshaft angle matches my address position……GREAT THINGS HAPPEN AT IMPACT!
The truth that I have discovered is......DO NOT OVER-ANALYZE YOUR SWING AT THE EXPENSE OF YOUR BALL STRIKING!
Today we see considerable golf swing biomechanical research on every movement of every body part: shoulders, hips, feet, arms, wrists, knees, etc. There is so much scientific data on the angle of rotation and path of every body component. With the introduction in the last decade of diagnostic tools such as 3 Dimensional Motion Analysis, Force Plate testing, and movement assessment strategies, a very precise scientific analysis of the modern-day golf swing can be examined. Also, with today's EMG or Electromyographic pattern research of the golf swing, which measures muscle pattern and effectiveness, you have a great explanation and analysis of what actually happens in the golf swing.
If you add all of this to what we know from the physics of the golf swing, including angular momentum, velocity, angle of impact, centrifugal and centripetal force, and pendulum mechanics...you have a greater understanding of the golf swing!
But does all this information help the typical handicapped golfer? That can be debated, but I don't like the attacks on the One Plane Swing concept to try and disprove the core idea of swinging on one plane. The One Plane Swing is much more than realizing that science says there are multiple planes... when our method is predominantly feel-oriented.
Once we set up on our impact plane, we simply swing back and down to impact, on that plane. I do not care what science says whether I actually stay on that one plane or not. It's the "feeling" of staying on that plane for me that's important! Video can help me see it, but that doesn't change the fact that I cannot see myself swing while playing! I must trust my feeling of staying on one plane, and the easiest way to do that is setting up with impact in mind and simply returning to that impact position!
Dr. Chris Nix
**For more information on the One Plane Swing the One Plane Golfer eBook is available for sale on the homepage of this site. It's a beautifully illustrated description of the One Plane Swing and how to apply it to your game.