You can watch training videos, work on swing mechanics, do drills and pound balls on the range all day but if you’re not lined up correctly before you hit a shot, you’re going to struggle.
Improving your alignment is without question, the easiest thing you can do to improve your ball striking, and yet the vast majority of amateurs seem to ignore it time and time again. It’s also something that’s easy to forget about because you can’t watch yourself swing (unless you have a video camera). Use some of the tips below to improve your alignment and shave strokes off of your score.
The Fundamentals – There are three things that need to be lined up for you to hit good shots — your shoulders, your hips and the face of your club. If any one of these three things is out of sync, your ball striking is probably going to be pretty inconsistent.
Picking Your Target – Never hit a shot without picking a target, and don’t just pick any target, pick a very specific target. If you don’t know what you’re aiming at, how are you going to know if you’re lined up correctly. Next time you’re out hitting balls, pick your target and picture an imaginary line running from your ball to that spot. Then pick a spot on the ground about two feet in front of your ball on that line. Now you’re ready to line up the rest of your body.
Use Alignment Sticks – Alignment rods are a great tool for making sure that your hips and feet are lined up in the direction that you want them to be (you can also use golf clubs or any straight, stick-like object). After you’ve picked your spot on the ground, take the alignment rod and lay it on the ground so it’s parallel to your target line. If you’re hitting balls on the range you won’t have to worry about stepping back and picking your target after every shot. You can just grab a ball, line your feet up with the stick and hit your shot.
Alignment sticks are also helpful when you’re trying to line up the face of your club. Even if you think you’re face is square, it may not be. An easy way to make sure is to set the club down so that the face is perpendicular to the alignment rod. When you think you’ve got it square, take your normal grip and then setup to an actual ball to hit your shot.
Get Someone to Help You – One of the most important things to realize when you want to go hit some balls and work on your alignment is that what you feel is not necessarily what is actually happening. In fact, there’s a good chance that your not doing what you think you’re doing, so get someone to watch you or get out a video a camera.
Ideally, you’d like a certified golf instructor to help you out but if you don’t have access to one, grab a friend and have him watch you hit some balls. All you have to do is take your normal setup and have your partner observe where your body is aimed. Have them take a club and lay it against your chest to see the direction that your shoulders are pointed. Do the same thing to determine the direction of your hips.
The diagram at the top of the page is taken from Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf”. It’s considered by many certified teachers to be one of the most prolific golf instruction books of all time. Use it to get started on your way to proper alignment.