What’s the best way for a golfer to achieve proper alignment for a full swing?
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14 Professionals Contributed
Without good alignment to your target, you can not expect to play great golf. Golf’s a target game, requiring your aim, then alignment, is spot on each and every shot.
To align properly, you must understand that you have to aim something first. That something is the leading edge of your golf club. No matter the club you choose, it has a leading edge. And the lading edge does just what its name implied, leads the club to the ball. The bottom of your club is the leading edge, and it should be 90° to your intended target line.
Hint – Aim the club to something approximately 1-2 feet in front of you. Not the intended target. It’s easier to aim to something closer than it is further away.
From there, you set up to the club. Its the club that hits the ball, not you. This is why aiming the club first is paramount to great golf shots. If you do this your body should be properly “aligned” to your target, with your feet being on a parallel line left of your intended target line (Parallel Right for the Left-Handed golfer). And all joints that have an angle in your set up, your knees, hips, and shoulders, should also be on the same parallel line to your target line.
Check out the 2 videos about aligning and how mathematically important it is to aim and align properly.
Golfers need a proper pre-shot routine in order to align themselves properly. They should understand the importance of aligning the clubface first and then setting their body position accordingly.
Full Swing Alignment
When it comes to alignment, a lot of people are really misinformed. They think it’s to aim “just their feet” directly at the target, when in actuality it’s to aim your feet, knees, hips and shoulders “parallel left of the target” so when you reach with the club to make your swing you’re actually aiming the ball at the target (avoiding the outside push miss).
For practice (on the range) it’s not a bad idea to lie down a club or alignment stick (pointing at your target) that you can line up your feet and body line parallel to in order to learn and engrain the feel of proper alignment.
For play (on the course) start by always approaching each shot from behind the ball and picking a spot in the distance where you want the ball to go (like a tree or just whatever). Then, as you walk into the shot, pick a spot on the ground (just a short distance in front of you) in the same line as the spot you picked in the distance. This was the Nicklaus’ technique and it is very useful, as so many targets that we aim at in golf are oftentimes so far away that it’s easy to misalign ourselves.
Dreaded catch 22
By far one of the most critical errors that my students make is incorrect Aim and alignment. It is certainly a catch 22. Do you slice it? If you’re right handed you have to aim left to hit it in the fairway but how do you hit a fade on purpose? you open your stance and aim left. Well if you slice and you aim left you’re always going to be doomed to slice. And if you hook, well it’s the same thing, more you aim right the more you hook.
However there’s no easy answer and in my experience it’s because it’s very difficult for our eyes to aim correctly standing so far away from the target line. It’s called parallax error. So obviously alignment sticks set up like railroad tracks when you’re on the driving range, helps. But you can’t take them with you on the course and the alignment looks different with every club since you’re farther away from the target line with a driver than you are with your sand wedge.
I believe you must aim your club face at an intermediate target. Get the inside of your feet parallel to the Square club face and go from there. I also think it helps to put an alignment stick in the ground on your target line 20 to 30 yards out towards your target. As a right hander you will see when you address the ball that that stick looks farther to the right than your intended target. That is parallax error. But it helps reconcile correct alignment.
Train your Eyes and Instincts
Assuming one has a standard pre-shot routine to set up consistently, becoming misaligned is a gradual process. One gets a little off, then a little more, and still, the swing functions. Then a little more and “Boink!” It falls apart. At this point, the use of an alignment stick leads to, “Really? That feels like it’s aimed WAAAAYYY RIGHT! (or left)” The use of an alignment stick on a regular basis during practice sessions will keep you eyes and instincts aware of what correct alignment feels and looks like. Set one on the ground, aimed at the target line, then, once you’re set up, FREEZE! Don’t move, don’t look at the target….simply pin your club against your sternum and see if it is parallel to the alignment stick on the ground. When working on alignment, I’ll do, hit the shot, do it again, hit the shot, and then just hit a shot. Then repeat.
Line up with alignment sticks
Using alignment rods when you practice is vital for proper aim. Here’s how to use them:
Lay two rods down, side-by-side, 2 feet apart and pointing in the direction of your target. Place a golf ball in the middle of the alignment rods. Stand behind your golf ball and make sure the rods are parallel and pointing at your target. This is a vital part of your pre-shot routine.
Next, address your golf ball and make sure that your feet, knees, hips and shoulders are all lined up; parallel to the alignment rods. Proper aim during practice starts with this guidance tool and a good pre-shot routine can finish the job!
Train Tracks for Proper Set Up
I try to get my students to visualize train tracks for the proper set up. The outer rail being the target line with the club pointed to the target and the inner track the set up line. The set up line includes the feet, knees, hips shoulders and even your eyes. Those lines of alignment should all be parallel to the target line. This is a great visual for most golfers.
Many golfers try to align their feet to the target which is not a good set up for many reasons!
Using binocular vision is important
Start by facing the target ( using your binocular vision) and then use either an intermediate target, an imaginary line to the target, or a very distant target to acquire a ball-target relationship. Set feet parallel to this and fire away. If your subconscious minutely adjusts your set-up let it be. Our subconscious is a plus 4, our conscious mind is a 31.
I think that most people need to be much more deliberate when they set up to the ball . Paying more attention to all of the details, joint alignment , pressure from the ground, etc:. Practicing with alignment sticks and practicing a routine can help significantly with learning a consistent set up !!
Align your Clubface First!!
I watch players every day wiggle their bodies into position to swing the club and then lastly set the club behind the ball. Please, reverse that action and after taking your grip place the club behind the ball aiming the face toward the target. This makes it so that even if the strike is not perfect the ball will still be going toward your target. Aligning the clubface first will lower your scores, period!!
Bring your target close to you
The best way is to bring your target close to you. You need to get behind your ball and pick out your starting line and draw a line back to your ball pick out a piece of grass just in front of your ball. Then your target is close to you and it,s easy to line up and on the downswing swing your clubhead out over the piece of grass and it will be easier to hit your target
40 Year Class A PGA Teaching Professional 23 Year Master Club Fitter and Club Builder Performance Fitter for Competition
PGA Tour Superstore - East Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, CA
Pre Shot Routine, every time!
Always start standing behind your golf ball and pick out a very specific spot where you want your ball to land. Then approach the ball while aiming the club face at that spot. I am in the club face is imperative for the stance of the body is built always around the angle of the face. Now, put your back foot on a parallel line to the club face and then bring the left foot up to the same parallel line of your right toe. That’s the point you balance your feet knees and body until you are comfortable, look to the target to confirm your perfect stance, and let it rip!
Everything on the target..
Align (right-handed golfers) left shoulder, eyes, hands and ball on target and trust your swing!
Club Face at the Target
Golf is hard enough as it is. Standing sideways to swing and try to hit the ball straight sounds ridiculous to most. All to often in my lessons do I see students lining up their feet to the target. Not the club face.
When we do this we get ourselves crossed up or not even aiming at the right target.
What I want you to do from now on
Is step into the shot from the side. Aim the club face at the target before you take your set up. Once you have the club face aimed properly at your target. Finish your setup keeping that club aimed at your target.
This will insure your club is pointed at the target. Our feet will want to feel like they are pointed left or right (depending on hand) of the target. Creating a railroad track that never crosses as mentioned in the attached video.
Simple and effective way to start fixing you aim and alignment!