What are some drills or aids to help with proper full swing alignment?

13 Professionals Contributed |


Golf is complicated - it's easy to get caught up in all the fancy swing mechanics out there. Sometimes it's the most simple solution that provides the most effective result. With golf, it's often how you setup to the golf ball. Your alignment can be the most crucial aspect of your golf swing. So here are some drills and tips to learn how to set up to the ball perfectly, every time.

Alignment Sticks

No better and more versatile swing aid you can purchase than alignment sticks. But using them properly is the key.

Here are 2 of my earlier videos I created to assist you with using Alignment Sticks properly.

John Hughes Golf
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Ready, Fire, Aim!

I love the way my mentor taught me to teach…he drilled it in to me that a person can only miss hit a ball 3 different ways. Too Shallow, (usually in to out) Too Steep, (usually out to in) and a missed radius. Everything in golf can be explained looking at the swing from this simple principle.

A golfer will tend to aim so that their miss finds their target, Jack Nicklaus aimed a bit left, Gary Player aimed a bit right. They did “ok” without being perfectly aligned to their target with the feet, knees, hips, shoulders, etc. etc. In fact Nicklaus wrote in his book that a straight ball is a happy accident so don’t aim where that might get you in trouble but aim so that your ball will work towards your target.
The point I want to make is that if your ball curves…you better not aim at the target, however, after awhile if a slicer continues to aim farther and farther left then their slice will get worse to the point of becoming terminally steep. (Can no longer hit a driver due to the steep nature of the bottom of the swing and loss of power with all clubs) Same for a hooker, the further and further they aim right, the worse their hook has to get until they become terminally shallow. (Can no longer get a ball off the ground due to shallow bottom of swing)

I recommend this alignment drill…”The Target Line Shaft Drill”… An easy drill to get both alignment and swing plane in line enough to play to YOUR best. Stick an alignment rod in the ground about 10 feet in front of you. Aim right at it, (here it is ok with me if you use another alignment rod on the ground to insure you are aiming right at it, although, 10 feet away is pretty easy to aim at) then alternate hitting slices and hooks around the rod. A right handed player would be looking for their slices to start left of the rod then fall right and looking for their hooks to start right of the rod and fall left. One is usually substantially easier than the other…(you’ve just discovered your swing DNA) Once you have the ball turning the correct way, turn you slice into a baby fade and the hook into a soft draw. Your aim will improve because you will be hitting the ball closer to your aim line.

We see a lot of the best players in the world with what appears to be perfect posture and alignment…thank God for players like Mathew Wolf, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson that show us that you really don’t have to aim perfectly at your target but you do need to know where your ball is going.

Lastly, once you know where your ball is going and therefore where to aim, its time to implement a simple pre-shot routine that insures that you are aiming where you think. You can do that in 5 easy steps;

1. stand with the ball directly between you and your target (keeping in mind your target line may not be at your target)
2. draw a line with your club and or eyes from the target to your ball.
3. find a spot on the ground within 12″ that you can see clearly
4. without taking your eyes of your spot, walk up and aim the club face at the spot
5. place your feet perpendicular to the club face

One last look at your target and Fire!

Senior Director, Academy Development U.S. Kids Golf, Longleaf Golf & Family Club
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The use of alignment rods along your foot line and target line can be very beneficial when practicing.

Another great way to work on your alignment is to use an alignment rod along your target line while out on the golf course. If you get a chance to practice on the course this can be very beneficial.

The best way to work on your alignment is away from the golf course. Do some mirror work for your address position face on and down the line.

Face on; check for hand position, stance width and ball position.
Down the line; check for proper spine angle, distance from club and shoulder position.

Most people can get their feet parallel to the target line, but struggle getting their shoulders parallel to the target line. It gets even more difficult as ball position moves forward in the stance with longer clubs.

Stand in front of a mirror with a down the line view. Get into your setup position, when you rotate your head to look back into the mirror you should be able to see a sliver of your front shoulder. If you see all of your front shoulder you are to closed at address and if you see none of your front shoulder you are to open at address.

Mirror work is a great way to improve proper alignment.

Flagler Golf Academy
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Alignment and optics

The path on which you swing the club is where the ball will initially launch, as your ball flight. If you are not hitting the ball on your intended line of flight, you probably could be lining up wrong. You get comfortable with a set up and swear your okay, but it is an optical illusion.

The simplest of all corrective methods is to go to the practice range a lay a club down and aim the club down on your target line. Now set your stance parallel to the club in front of you. If it feels different, it should. Hitting several shots will ingrain a new feeling of the set up.

I often tell my students that the best way not to regress back to your old habit is to work on your address routine. As you address the ball, step forward with your back foot.and aim your clubface at the target. Next, place your feet together and step toward the target with the front foot. Then ,step directly back with the trailing foot. At this point you are also controlling the ball placement in your stance. If it is a driver you are swinging, it will be a little step flaring the the front foot , to set the teed ball toward your left heel. then a bigger step with the back foot, but this must be directly away fro the target. The width of the stance should be about or a little more than your body width.

The address routine has four things that need to be on your checklist: Grip, clubface alignment, stance and the proper posture, Every good player has a similar routine. If done correctly with diligence, on every shot, you won’t have problems with your aim.

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2 Techniques That I Like

There are a couple of good full swing drills that I like which help well with full swing alignment.

One, you can always lie down an iron on the ground (pointing at your target) when you’re hitting balls on the range. Then line up your feet, knees, hips and shoulders on that same line to get a feel for how to aim.

But an even better technique is to do what Nicklaus did. Pick a spot (a patch of grass, an old divot, an old cigarette or just whatever) directly in front of you, in the same line as your target, and line up to that spot, as targets are so far away that it’s oftentimes very easy to misalign yourself.

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Simple Tips for Better Alignment

Using alignment rods or clubs is always the go to when it comes to this. But after a few swings they must often times get moved.

Here it was I do with my students.

Instead of having the alignment rod at your feet or by the club. Set two alignment rods or clubs. 3 feet in from of your golf ball. The rods should be about 4 inches wide. Aimed at your target of course.

What this will do is provide a better visual for the down the line/ to the target view.

Your goal of this drill is to get as many golf balls to travel through your “gate”

When we take this to the course. What you should do is in your Pre-shot routine. Visualize a gate inline with your target. 4 feet in front of you.

And when lining up lead with your club first. Place your club inline with your gate and feet parallel to that. Most times we tend to align up our feet to the target and ultimately that leads to your club being off line to the target.

The club needs to be align with the target. Feet parallel.

I hope this tip helps you on the course!

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Alignment sticks for the win

The best couple of dollars you can possibly spend! Home Depot, Lowes, or any other hardware stores will have sticks in the mailbox section. Using alignment sticks in the only sure fire way of knowing you are properly aligned during practice. I highly suggest using a target on the ground an inch or 2 in front of your shot when on the course. Trying to align yourself with a target several hundred yards away can be extremely difficult.

Canyon Springs Golf Course
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Check your alignment

Like life, you can do everything right, but if you aren’t aligned to the correct target, you’ll be looking in the wrong place to correct your inaccuracy, perhaps messing up a perfectly good swing. Generally I am most concerned with shoulder alignment, and less with hips and feet.

An easy and sure way to check your alignment is to lay an alignment stick on the ground, pointing on your target line. Either near the ball or your toes, it does not matter. What you’re going to do is set up to the ball preparing to swing, and at the last second before your takeaway, FREEZE! Keep your body perfectly still and do not look at the target. Simply, and carefully so as not to move any part of your body other than your arms, lift the club to pin it against your sternum, parallel to the ground. Without moving your head, you should easily be able to see if the club against your sternum is parallel to the alignment stick. When practicing, I hit two balls doing this, one without, and repeat. Even when I am playing well–it helps keep the eyes and instinct trained. Alignment errors tend to creep in gradually, so it pays to not become complacent.

Moses Lake Golf Club
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Proper alignment

I instruct my students to first, aim their club face at the intended target and then align their toe line parallel to groove lines on the club face. From there, align the hips and shoulders parallel to the toes and club face. When properly aligned, the player should see this | |
NOT this / |

Oneputt Productions, Inc
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Don't believe your eyes!

Good alignment is the result of having your left shoulder a little bit left of the target(right-handed golfer)…Eyes, hand and ball are on the target…Very simple…

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Alignment Rods

If you ever attended a TOUR EVENT or just watch a Tournament more likely or not those players will have Alignment Rods in there golf bags. As a teaching pro I have least 8 of them. So what do I use mine for???1. Alignment both Full Swing an Short Game, Ball position, Putting, Swing Path and Etc. They can be bought at any golf store or go to your local LOWES or Home Depot.

Fox Hollow Golf Club
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Full swing alignment

An alignment stick laid across the back of your heels at address is really easy for most people. They can step back and visualize the line the ball is on when they see the line their body is on by the alignment stick.

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Alignment Sticks

Alignment sticks… I think these really are a necessity to solid practice. You can use them for a number of different drills.

Bradenton Country Club
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The Backswing Fix

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