The Pros and Cons of a Flat Swing (And How to Fix It)

Previously, I took you through the ins and outs of a flat golf swing to help you employ it in your game. However, in this guide, I focus on the pros and cons of a flat golf swing. The purpose here is to help you determine if this is the correct swing for your game.

In addition to outlining the advantages and downsides of this swing, I will also explain what causes a flat golf swing. Plus, I detail ways to boost it if it hampers your performance.

A flat golf swing can produce superb clubhead speed for a maximum coefficient of restitution (COR). However, your mechanics better be well oiled as the slightest mistake can lead to disaster.

 

Causes of a Flat Golf Swing

A flat golf swing is typically caused by your hands working around your body. In other words, you take your clubhead around until it finishes behind your lead shoulder. This is the opposite of a steep swing. That plane sees you take your hands up, with the clubhead coming to rest above your lead shoulder.

Matt Kuchar takes his clubhead back and up before shallowing the shaft. Then, he commonly maximizes his rotation and sends the clubhead hurtling towards the ball. This is known as a two-plane swing and was even employed by Ben Hogan:

Another example of this type of player is Sergio Garcia. This PGA Tour video provides a clear demonstration of how the Masters Champion approaches each shot:

You could be rotating your hips and shoulders extensively on the backswing to produce a flat swing plane. That leads to your hands taking the golf club around the body.

Furthermore, when you drop your trail shoulder at the top of your backswing, it can lower the club to a shallow angle. It is often caused by golfers with excess weight on their trail foot, causing you to lean back on your shot.

Therefore there are two causes of a flat golf swing. The first is your hands working around your body on the backswing. Secondly, dropping your club into a shallow position at the top of your downswing also flattens your plane.

 

Pros of a Flat Golf Swing

Lower Body And Shoulder Turn

Many amateurs fail to optimize their hip and shoulder turn during their swing. This causes players to lose distance and accuracy. When you learn to operate with a flat backswing and downswing, you understand the importance of rotation.

If you fail to generate ample hip and shoulder rotation on your downswing, it causes you to hook or slice shots. Swinging from inside out with an open clubface causes you to push your ball. Conversely, you may find that you close the clubface at impact and hook your shot.

Furthermore, excessive lower body and shoulder rotation too early in your swing may encourage your hands to bring the clubhead around your body. The reality is optimal turn is necessary, while too much can bring about problems.

Clubhead Speed

Golfers with a flatter swing plane cause the clubhead to travel further than if they adapted a steeper wind up.

The momentum you generate from added travel distance on your downswing prompts rapid clubhead velocity. As a result, it enhances your ability to maximize your COR and induce explosive ball speed.

Optimal COR and explosive ball speed deliver added mid and long game distance.

Coefficient Of Restitution (COR)

To optimize your ball speed, you need a high COR result. COR describes the quantity of energy transferred from your clubface onto the ball at impact. The more power you pass on, the faster your ball speed is likely to be. Therefore you increase your chance of increasing your yardage.

However, you must strike your golf ball out of the center for superior results. Any mishits will reduce your COR and ball speed, causing you to lose yardage. Obviously, forgiving clubs will mitigate this damage. However, you still stand to lose a few yards.

Ball Speed

The pace of your ball is determined by your clubhead speed and subsequent COR. When you precisely execute a flat golf swing, the added clubhead speed and high COR prompt increase the pace of your ball.

Distance

The distance you gain from a flat golf swing stems from a cocktail of clubhead and ball speed and COR. When these factors align, your ball travels high and long for optimal distance.

 

Cons of a Flat Golf Swing

Mechanics

The biggest downside of a flat swing path is the various elements of your mechanics that need to gel. Your rhythm needs to kick in from takeaway through impact for consistent results. On top of rhythm, you need optimal hip and shoulder turn for superior weight transition.

Consistency is the challenge with this type of swing, as there are numerous factors to master. That is why I do not encourage the average golfer to employ it.

Rotation

Although rotation forms part of the swing mechanics I touched on before, it is a potential hazard on a flat golf swing.

It is a handicap to the average golfer because you either rotate too early, generating excess turn. But more than likely, you do not rotate enough.

Naturally, imperfect rotation impacts the accuracy and distance of any golf swing. But, it is especially detrimental for a flat golf swing.

The greatest challenge amateur golfers endure is prompting ample hip and shoulder turn. It causes you to leave the clubface open at impact and push your shots. Conversely, you can also close the club at impact and send it hooking.

Hooks

When you are in a shallow position at the top of your swing, you may feel that the clubhead is in an awkward position. Therefore, you may cast the club out and down instead of following a one-plane swing. That causes the clubface to travel along an outside-to-inside line remaining closed at impact.

When the clubface is in this position, it generates excessive right-to-left sidespin causing a hooked shot. Golf instructor Mark Crossfield demonstrates this challenge in this video:

Slices

Slices are the most common shot error that amateurs induce. That remains true with a flat swing. The downside of this setup is that a lack of rotation prevents you from getting your club on plane when your shaft is parallel to the ground.

Subsequently, that causes your clubface to remain open at impact, generating right-to-left sidespin. A flat golf swing is temperamental, and without sufficient rotation and a consistent tempo, you will experience erratic results.

Topped Shots

A flat position at the top of your swing may make you feel like your flexibility is restricted. What amateurs do is drop their trail shoulder and tense their muscles. That prompts them to lean back and come up on their shot, propelling the clubhead into the turf.

If you decide to play with a flat golf swing, you must commit to the process. That means producing optimal hip and shoulder rotation and keeping your club on one plane. Leaning back and not transferring weight will cause you to come up before impact and top your shots.

 

So, Can a Flat Swing Be Good?

Yes, there is no doubt that a flat swing can be good. It prompts superior rotation and can increase clubhead speed. In addition, it increases your chances of a high COR for added ball speed and distance.

However, it is difficult to execute this swing considering the rotation, weight distribution, and swing plane requirements.

 

How to Fix a Flat Swing

Takeaway

If you are happy with a flat swing but wish to refine it, I suggest working on your shoulder rotation and controlling your hands.

Dropping your left arm during your backswing will allow your right arm to take over and drag the club around your body. Excessive extension around the body will restrict your ability to rotate and shift your weight back towards your front on the downswing.

However, if you wish to shake a flat swing, focus on your arms guiding the clubhead up and over. A more upright swing will place the clubhead above your left shoulder at the top of your swing. Next, swing down and through.

Obviously, I am not saying eradicate hip and torso rotation. My point is that a reduced turn does not deliver the same devastating consequences as on a flat golf swing.

Control Your Hands

You should use the momentum from the front to back weight distribution to get your clubhead to the top of your swing. However, when you feel like your hands are wrapping around your body and taking control of the club, you need to adjust your backswing.

Work on taking the club back and up instead of around your body. A higher position at the top of your swing will provide increased freedom to free the arms on your downswing.

Don’t Shallow The Club

If your swing is similar to Rory Mcilroy, where you take the club back high and shallow, you may want to eradicate this step from your game. It certainly assists the former World number 1, but it is tricky for casual golfers to execute.

Don’t drop your shoulder to flatten the club at the top of your swing. Instead, keep it on one plane, which will make it easy to swing down and through. As a result, you’ll produce superior accuracy.

Shallowing your club from this position can cause you to drop your shoulder and fall back on your shot. That either leads to an open clubface at impact or a topped shot.

Impact

Making these tweaks will either exterminate your flat swing or optimize it. No matter what swing you opt for, the goal is to get your clubface square or slightly closed at impact.

A flat golf swing will keep you long and straight if your tempo is on point. However, if you struggle with the flat swing, initiate an upright technique to make life easier for yourself.

 

Flat Golf Swing FAQs

Is It Bad To Have A Flat Golf Swing?

No, it is not bad to have a flat golf swing. There are several positives, including increased clubhead speed, COR, ball speed, and distance. The downside of a flat swing is that it requires precise rotation and mechanics to execute. That is why it is difficult for the average golfer to master.

Is A Shallow Or Steep Swing Better?

They both have pros and cons, which suit different golfers. However, after dabbling with various swings in my career, I can safely say a steep swing is easier for the average golfer. Your punishment is less severe when you do not produce sufficient rotation.

 

Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years.