The next time you’re playing golf with your buddies, pay special attention to their alignment. Unless your regular Sunday foursome is a bunch of Q School hopefuls, you’ll find that they are aimed everywhere but where they think they are…and the same is probably true for you.
The Easiest Fundamental
Alignment is one of the simplest, most basic elements to good golf, but it’s ignored by most players. Since your alignment happens at your own pace, before you even think about swinging, there’s no reason to ever get it wrong. It should be the easiest fundamental…
…But It Isn’t
One of my favorite things to do with first-time students is to check their alignment. I’ll ask them to aim at a flag in the distance, and then I’ll lay a club down behind their heels. When they step back and see that the club is pointed away from the target, they’re shocked. They can’t understand how being misaligned can look correct. The answer is fairly simple: their perspective is all wrong.
Think about the activities where accurate aiming is important: shooting a gun, playing pool, or throwing darts. In each of these examples, you put both your eyes on the target line behind the projectile. Why? Because this is the best way to use your binocular vision. You’ll never see a champion sharpshooter standing beside their rifle, because this is a difficult, unreliable way to aim. Yet 99% of golfers expect their aim from this perspective to be accurate.
How Accurate Are You?
I imagine that some of you are thinking, “Matt, you’re wrong. I align myself perfectly from beside the ball.” And you may be right; I have a handful of students who can aim very accurately from address. But to be sure, I’d recommend checking yourself in practice. The next time you go to the range, set up a practice station (explained HERE) and see if that alignment looks and feels correct to you. If it doesn’t, you can bet that when you feel correctly aligned, you aren’t.
A Better Way to Aim
To develop alignment that you can rely on during a round, you need to build alignment into your pre-shot routine. Start by standing on the target line behind the ball. Visualize the line from the ball to the target. Next, pick out a small intermediate target on that line, no more than 12 inches in front of the ball. The reason for using an intermediate target is to make aiming easier: it’s very hard to accurately aim at something over 100 yards away, but very easy to aim at something 6 inches away.
Now, set the club head behind the ball and aim it at your intermediate target.
Finally, align your feet and body to match your club face.
Using this pre-shot routine doesn’t guarantee that you’ll hit it like the pros, but you will be aiming like they do and enhancing your chances of hitting your shots on target.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please post them below.