An Easier Way?

Fueled by the legend?and memory?of Moe Norman, the single-axis swing continues to intrigue with its simplicity

An Easier WayMoe Norman was considered by many to be the best ballstriker of all time. Even Ben Hogan was once quoted as saying that “Moe was the only guy that I would walk across the street to watch hit balls.” But anyone who’s familiar with Moe Norman knows that his golf swing was a bit unconventional. Compared to today’s popular techniques, Norman’s golf swing adhered to a single axis, not the two planes normally associated with the modern dynamic. Taking away and returning the club on a single plane fueled Norman’s consistency and correctness at impact by “de-complexing” the swing. Is a single-axis motion the best way to swing a golf club? The debate has raged for decades. At the very least, it effectively simplifies and helps improve the most important part of the swing—impact. A comparison of the single-axis technique and the modern swing shows how.

The Single-Axis Principle
The key difference between the conventional golf swing and the single-axis golf swing is the relationship between address and impact. At address, the conventional player sets up to the ball with his arms and hands directly below his shoulders, forming two separate lines that create an angle between the arms and clubshaft. Although this seems to make some sense initially, it makes no sense when you consider that the ball doesn’t sit below the shoulders. If you view the same conventional golfer at impact, you see that the club and arms have contacted the ball on a steeper or higher plane.

In contrast, the single-axis address position aligns the club on the same plane as the impact plane. In other words, the single-axis golfer starts the club on the impact plane. By beginning on the same plane as impact, the entire golf swing is simplified, and the likelihood of solid contact with the ball is multiplied. This was the secret to Moe Norman’s amazing ballstriking ability.

Unlike the conventional approach, the single-axis method mimics the impact position at address, negating the need for multiple planes. Arms extend from shoulder, not hang underneath.

Conventional Golfer
This view of the conventional golfer shows a narrow stance with the lead arm on a different line than the clubshaft. The trail hand is on top of the golf club and the hands start behind the clubhead. This position is significantly different from the one that will be attained at impact.

ConventionalSingle-Axis Golfer
The single-axis golfer begins with the hands positioned in front of the clubhead with every club. This establishes a relationship with the lead arm and clubshaft, which Moe Norman called the “rod.” This rod position is the same straight line that occurs at impact when the lead arm and clubshaft align. Once again, the single-axis position is establishing an easier starting position relative to returning to impact.

Since the traditional golfer begins with two angles at address, he or she must hinge the wrists in order to get the club onto the impact plane. Why not start the club there?

BackswingConventional Golfer
Because the traditional golfer started with two angles at address, you can see that he has had to hinge his wrists in order to get the club onto the impact plane. Also notice the steeper shoulder plane created by the address position and the fact that the spine has somewhat tilted forward, away from the original spine tilt created at address. Proponents of the single-axis technique point to these many, varied movements as being unnecessary, adding only complication to the swing.

Single-Axis Golfer
At the midpoint in the backswing, the single-axis golfer has moved the club directly along the impact plane. This is accomplished by simply maintaining the relationship of the lead arm with the lead shoulder established at address, which allows the club to ride the single plane all the way to the top. This begins to illustrate how much easier it is to swing on plane with a single-axis motion. Notice the width of the arms and how the hands are hinging in a leveraged position. The hips have slightly rotated, keeping the spine tilt the same as it was at address, which is the same spine tilt you’ll see at impact. Also, by maintaining the spine tilt, the shoulders have moved on plane, following the arm movement according to the single plane of the arms and hands.


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