By Chandler Rusk, GGA Master Instructor
The Single Plane Swing – Moe Norman & Bryson DeChambeau
Force = Mass x Acceleration
Two weeks ago at Winged Foot in the 2020 U.S. Open, Bryson DeChambeau accomplished what only two other men have – winning the NCAA Individual Championship, the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open in a career, placing himself in the same category as Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Bryson didn’t just win the Major Championship, he defied logic in many ways.
The one area that comes to most of our minds is how far he hits the golf ball. As Bryson calls it, “the bomb and gouge mentality.” He has taken his game to new heights by adding weight to his body and increasing his ability to create rotational speed. In fact, he was just under 200 lbs. at the beginning of the year and he now weighs in at almost 240 lbs. Why did he do this? It wasn’t just coincidence, as Bryson studies and researches everything and why he has the nickname, “The Mad Scientist.”
It all started 20+ years ago with Tiger Woods, and now golf has transitioned into a power game. The last five U.S. Open winners have been long drivers of the golf ball including Dustin Johnson, twice by Brooks Koepka, and last year by Gary Woodland. However, Bryson’s distance is extreme, and Rory McIlroy attested to this earlier this year at Colonial when he said, “He hit one into the wind on 11. I hit a really good one and probably hit it like 315, 320. DeChambeau must have flew my ball by 40 yards. He hit it like 370, 375 into the wind. It was crazy. It’s unbelievable.” This coming from one of the longest and most accurate drivers of the golf ball in the last decade, Rory.
What is probably the most fascinating part of all of this is that when most golfers add length, they tend to always lose accuracy. Think of the World Long Drive hitters, out of eight shots, how many of them actually land in the 55 to 60-yard-wide grid? Maybe one or two. On the PGA Tour, the fairways average 25-30 yards wide. In 2019, Bryson averaged 299.4 off the tee and his tee shot accuracy was 58.3%. This year, Bryson has averaged 321.2 off the tee and now hits 60.4% of the fairways. Another great stat is that in 2019, his Strokes Gained off the Tee was .420 and this year he has gained 1.009 Strokes on the field. With these stats, Bryson is already one shot ahead of the field each round he plays. Talk about having an advantage.
How can he hit it further now and be more accurate off the tee? The only solution to this is how he does it – the science and biomechanics behind it. With Bryson having a scientific/physics mind, he will admit that ‘The Golfing Machine’ book changed his life, and this is what he said about it:
“That’s where my swing came from. That’s where I thought of my methods, and everything I’ve worked so hard on in developing my swing. My hands look like they’re high at address, but I just want them to be in the same position they’ll be in at impact. I don’t want my hands starting low at the beginning of my swing and then getting high at impact. I just want to start them high and then return to that position. It takes a little time at first, but once you get used to it, it’s the most efficient way to return the clubhead to the ball. Think about it this way: ‘If you were to design a machine to swing a golf club, how would that machine do it?’ You wouldn’t program the machine to have a bunch of excess movement. You’d build it so it’s simple and repeatable. That’s what my swing is.”
What’s interesting about Bryson’s findings is that what he is describing is exactly how the greatest ball striker of all-time swung the club – Moe Norman and what Graves Golf has taught for over 20 years – The Single Plane Swing. Let’s take a look:
Above you can see how Bryson and Moe both begin with the club shaft aligned with the middle of the back. This is also where impact is. When Bryson talks about starting and impacting on the same plane – this is the definition of Single Plane. To make the golf swing efficient, there is not a simpler way than starting the club shaft on the same plane that it will make impact.
Depicted above is impact of Bryson and Moe. At impact, the club shaft has returned to the same point in which it began. The club shaft directly in line with the middle of the back. This is no different than a child picking up a stick and trying to hit a rock that is on the ground. A child will point their arms in the direction of the object and make a straight-line motion to hit the object. The simplest way.
Bryson not only points the club and arms directly at the ball at address, he also positions the back of the lead hand, which is aligned with the club face, at the target. Aligning the club face with the back of the lead hand and pointing the back of the hand at the target at impact – this is what Moe called the “Rod” position. The alignment of the club face, club shaft, lead hand, lead arm, and lead shoulder. This is the same position the “Rod” will return at impact.
Finally, by starting and impacting on the same plane and establishing the “Rod” position at address, Bryson has reduced rotations and unnecessary movement of the body from address to impact.
Biomechanics is the science of the body’s movement. Moving the body in the most efficient way is considered an “Ideal Biomechanical Advantage”. This term nicely describes Bryson’s swing movement. As “unconventional” as many golf enthusiasts consider Bryson’s golf swing, it is actually natural and ordinary. It’s really just common sense.