Charl Schwartzel - Perfect Swing Plane

Charl Schwartzel has one of the best swings on the PGA Tour and is consistently on plane in his backswing. In this video, I'll show you 3 key steps to help you build your own perfect on plane backswing just like Charl.

  • Rotation - body and wrists. 
  • Elevation - slight upward movement of the arms. 
  • Flexion - trail arm flexes a bit to help the hand and arms move more into the vertical plane. 

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Loran
I noticed you said to keep turning your upper torso throughout the takeaway and backswing...at what point shoulder a player stop and not overdo the body rotation? Also...the hip rotation should stop before the upper torso rotation?
December 8, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Loan. You only need 90 degrees of shoulder turn for a very solid backswing. Once you can get the chest facing away from the target and the trail shoulder behind the head you don't need to rotate anymore. The excessive numbers you see from other players or on tour with the "x factor" is actually a little lead shoulder push. The pull from the trail shoulder will help pull the hip back. Once the shoulder stops pulling back the hip rotation will discontinue.
December 8, 2015
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charles
You have said that at the top of the backswing the right elbow should be in front of the chest...I see with Schwartzel he is a little behind the chest? cheers and love your site...
December 1, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Charles, glad you are loving the site. Charl's right elbow is a bit deeper at the top because he has rotated his shoulders between 110-118 degrees at the top of the swing. He has massive flexibility. With this sort of rotation, you would see the hands and arms moving slightly more into the depth dimension of the swing. Take out 10 or so degrees of rotation and you would see the elbow directly in line with the body.
December 1, 2015
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David
Chris, great analysis of Charl's swing. I often see so many players trying to achieve ideal positioning of the club and their goal for perfection looks great right until the transition. Then their body type, althletic ability, and playing time collide. Watch how perfect Charl's balance is start to finish. Most older golfers aren't don't carry Charl's Olympic build. No matter what skill or position a player is working on they should always be asking themselves, "Am I under control and balanced."
November 30, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey David, glad you enjoyed. Lots of player can still maintain the balance that Charl does, it is more of a matter of how things are sequenced coming down. Things are happening pretty fast in transition. I like your points and I believe that most older players, regardless of build, should be making sure they are moving efficiently, safely and prioritizing the swing around good sequencing to help preserve lag for the release into the hitting area.
December 1, 2015
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Thomas
You always do a great job. Wish I was as good implementing. One question. I notice that Charl and Chuck both end up with their lower arm ( Elbow to wrist) perpendicular to the ground at the top of the swing (DTL view). I tend to have my lower arm slanted with the elbow pointing slightly behind me in the DTL view. Since my tendency is to get the club across the line at the top, would this vertical position help me? Second, I'm thinking that I end up in the position I do because I don't have any right arm rotation that is talked about in the backswing videos. Comments? Chris this is your dedicated student Tom Spriggs.
November 30, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Tom, the elbow position is attributed to external humerus rotation, which is a variable. Some people do not have the ability to have much rotation of the humerus. Check out the 3 functions of the right arm video for further clarification. Trying to allow the right hand to relax a bit more and allowing it to rotate just a fraction more would be ideal for you. I think that answers your questions Mr. Dedication
December 1, 2015
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Ross
I'm focussing on my setup at the moment and couldn't help but look at the vertical lines up through Charl's ankles, his backside and his right hand at setup. If I understand correctly the ideal is to have these lines equally spaced but for Charl they are not. If Charl was an RST student, what would you advise him to do with his setup? Weight back a bit toward his heels with his arms a little more under his shoulders?
November 30, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Ross, what you are noticing has a LOT to do with the camera angle on this one. I don't think we would touch his set up much. His posture/setup is pretty solid. His weight appears to be in a good spot and the arms are hanging pretty freely off the shoulder line.
December 1, 2015
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Anthony
Chris, you mention in this video about the club face rotating around the hosel of the club. Is this rotation done on the downswing by slowing the shaft and hands down to accomplish this rotation or is it done another way. Thanks
November 30, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Anthony, the golf club should be gradually rotating during both the backswing and downswing. We have some videos that talk about rotating the club on the way down. Trace the plane line, using the wrists effectively, squaring the club face will all help explain.
November 30, 2015
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Jason
this was a nice video thank you I am turning too flat i've been through several of the videos and I honestly think the bucket drill is making me too flat it is only the merry-go-round drill that tells me the right thing to do, but I can't seem to incorporate it when my hands are down in front me. what am I supposed to feel as the direction my arms are going when I am rotating with the left shoulder pointing at the ball and not out and above beyond the ball (by being too flat)?
November 30, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Thanks Jason. You should be focusing on the right shoulder being pulled behind your head and rotating perpendicular to the spine angle at the address position. The arms should feel passive and they should feel as though they are along for the ride of the body rotation primarily. Note: posture can effect how you rotate your body into the backswing.
November 30, 2015
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William
Good day Chris and congrats on yet another fine video! When I first started with RST around a year ago, I really struggled. One of my biggest problems was 'elevating' too soon which took me way outside and off-plane. I went right back to the basics within the site and concentrated on the Takeaway and basic Rotation ises - it worked a treat! I reckon the Hip-Bump/Axis Tilt videos are an integral key to the whole swing and should be accentuated and re-enforced throughout the RST site as I find this key move helps me squat and shift to the left side... Thanks, William
November 30, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Thanks William as always for the kind words. Axis tilt is a hugely important part of the setup that many people overlook. Not having tilt in the setup can cause you to rotate improperly into the backswing and make it difficult to get loaded up properly. As well as possibly put your spine in danger of over rotation.
November 30, 2015

We are back with this week's tour analysis with Charl Schwartzel who just picked up his fourth Alfred Dunhill Championship this past weekend. Congratulations to Charl. This week, we are going to be focusing in on how to build a perfect backswing just like Charl. He's been known amongst his competitors out there that he's got one of the best swings. It's an incredible golf swing that we can learn a lot from. This week, we're going to be focusing in on three key components that are going to help you build a perfect back swing that is on plane every single time. Let's go ahead and get started.

                Okay, guys, so as I said in the opener, our primary focus is going to be on the back swing this week. We're going to be talking about the three key components on how to build a perfect looking backswing every single time. We're going to also lay out a game plan of things for you to work on in order so that you can have a beautiful looking golf swing like Charl. Charl's got a great golf swing from beginning to end. We're going to be drawing what we call an elbow plane line here. This is a line up from the hosel of the golf club through the base of the elbow. If you want to do some self-analysis, obviously use the self-analysis feature that we have on the website, lots of good tools in there to help give you a good understanding of where you're at with your golf swing.

                What we're going to be focusing on here is an acronym that we use around the website quite a bit. It's called REF. That stands for rotation, elevation, and flexion. We're going to go through what each of those things mean, each of those key components, and we're going to lay out a prioritized list of how you're going to work through those things yourself. The first thing we want to talk about is rotation. Well, what's rotating? We're going to be talking about the body rotating throughout the entire take away and into the back swing. You can see that his chest here has now turned about 45 degrees from where it was at the starting point. The arms have stayed fairly straight and fairly relaxed here. Now this is a big issue that a lot of amateur golfers struggle with, is that we get the golf club moving really quickly with pushing the club back very quickly. What happens is when you start to push your lead arm back very quickly, the club can get a little bit flat and inside. You would notice that your club head would be underneath this plane line. In turn, you're going to continue to run the risk of getting the club a little bit deeper and you'll get the hands and arms a little bit deep at the top of the swing, which is a difficult spot to recover from.

                We want to talk about also the club face rotating. The club face is rotated as well off of the golf ball. That's what it's designed to do. That's why the club shaft is located where it is. It's at the hosel of the golf club and it's designed to rotate around its axis, especially because we're swinging on an inclined plane here. You can see that this club is just a little bit north of the plane line here. Also could be attributed to a little bit of the camera angle that we were loading up here today. See that the camera angle's actually almost a little bit behind him, but we still can use this view to still have a good idea of where we're at swing-wise.

                The main goal of a perfect looking take away position is to rotate your body and try to keep your hands and arms very relaxed. If you rotate your body, your hands and arms will move. Now there is one other small component that's a part of this. That would be elevation. For those of you that don't know what elevation is, shoulder elevation is often what we call it around the website, but if you were to take your arms and you were to just lift them straight up from a dress to where your elbows were right at the base of your chest. If you were to lift them up right to where your elbows were at the base of the chest, that is what we consider shoulder elevation. There's just a slight upward movement of the arms. That's a gradual move that happens throughout the take away and the backswing. What we use as far as a check point is concerned is as we start to rotate and we're going to start to elevate our arms here to get the club, and he's actually got a good amount of elevation here, is that his hands are going to be right in line with the base of his pocket. This is pretty much a textbook looking take away. Again, both arms are very straight and relaxed. He's turned his body about 45 degrees, very minimal hip rotation you can see here.

                Again, as far as the take away is concerned, we have rotated our body. We have rotated the club face to virtually where the toe of the club is up towards the sky, and our hands are right at the base of our pocket. Now to finish this back swing, we're going to go with all three components. We're going to continue to rotate our body. That's the first, most primary thing that we need to focus on, is always getting our body to feel like it's rotating throughout the take away and back swing. You're going to see that he continues to rotate his body. Watch the center of his chest. You can actually see his logo moving here as well. Continues to rotate. Now he's adding what we call flexion, right arm flexion. Through a completed take away, you're going to notice that this right arm starts to break and then in turn, that's helping give the golf club lift into the top of the swing.

                Also, the last bit of elevation was added here. Now, this is a very, very good spot here as well. We use the base of the chest, the base of the pectoral muscle right here as kind of the focus point of where we want to have our elevation. Right arm flexion and elevation are what's going to help give the golf club lift into the top part of the swing. If you couple that with good rotation of the body and good rotation of the club face, you're going to have a perfectly on plane golf swing just like this. Extremely important that you focus on those things in order. If you've been struggling with getting your golf swing to look like it's on plane, it's always best to start with rotation of your body and then work on rotating your club face and then work on adding this slight amount of elevation and this slight amount of right arm flexion. In turn, that'll help you move the golf club into a perfect spot every single time.

                We've got some videos that will help you out with that, guys. We've got Five Minutes to a Perfect Back Swing. We've got Five Minutes to a Perfect BackSwing Checkpoints video. We also have an elevation video that can help with a small drill. It's called the Pool Noodle Shoulder Elevation video. That gives you a couple of checkpoints where you can use to start building in your take away and also build into your back swing perfect elevation. Then we also have one that talks about the rotation of the wrist. It's How to Use your Wrists Effectively and Efficiently in the Golf Swing. These movements alone will help you overcome a lot of your swing faults. You won't see the club getting flipped inside too early. You won't see the hands popping out away from the body much. You won't run into these positions at the top of the swing that you're going to have to in turn recover from, which can make the game very difficult because now you're relying on a lot of compensations and you're relying on a lot more timing.

                If you've been looking to build a perfect backswing, this is a great one to mimic here. This is pretty much textbook throughout the entire golf swing. This will certainly make your golf swing get on plane every single time. All right, guys, so that's this week's analysis. Get out there. Let's put rotation, elevation, and flexion to work and let's play some great golf. 

 

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