Alignment: Aligning Yourself On The Course
Develop a Routine for Aligning Yourself
Pick a Spot in Front of Your Ball
Alignment is funny. It seems like it should be something so simple and so easy to do correctly even for a rank beginner. Yet the best players in the game struggle with it constantly. Possibly because they are more aware of it. They realize that even the smallest change, even inches can wreak havoc on their swing and their scores. I like to joke with my students about their poor practice habits when it comes to alignment. "Keep practicing without alignment sticks on the ground and you're gonna keep needing lessons!" I like to say.
Once a player gets things going pretty good in their swing, it usually won't go south unless their alignment or sequence gets off and alignment can certainly affect sequence. Imagine yourself aiming further and further to the right of your target and in turn using your shoulders and arms more and more from the top to pull the ball back to target.
Putting alignment sticks on the ground while practicing is imperative to training your eyes and your brain as to what it is to be properly aligned. I like to say that your eyes are like any other muscle. They get trained and in good shape and they get out of shape quickly. While practicing with sticks down your eyes are constantly looking up at the target and saying "o.k., this is what square looks like." Then when you get out on the course if you look up at your target and are not square an alarm will sound. Your eyes will say "wait a minute, this doesn't look or feel right." So practice it enough on the range and it will transfer to the course.
Pick Out a Spot a Few Inches in Front of Your Ball
There is an easy trick however to aligning yourself correctly and without doubt on the golf course by simply adding a step to your pre-shot routine. Many times I witnessed the greats including Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorrenstam picking out a spot a few inches in front of their ball. You could see their eyes focused at a spot on the ground and then drawing back to their ball. This is an easy trick and works so well that you almost feel like you are cheating!
It's difficult to set your club face square to something 200 yards away, but you have to admit, even the least athletic and coordinated of us can aim the face of their club at a spot a few inches in front of the ball. And that's all it takes!
You are having a hard time taking your all your hard work on alignment practice and applying it on the golf course.
After taking your practice swings and picking out your target, step behind your ball and stand down the target line. Pick a spot a few inches in front of your ball that's in line with your target. This could be a divot, discoloration, blade of grass etc. Next address your ball setting your club down aimed squarely at your intermediate target. Once the club face is square carefully set your feet with your stance line running perpendicular to your club face's leading edge. Be sure not to let your club face move in the process. Trust now that you are aimed square. Give a quick look up at your target a couple of times and then pull the trigger!
Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.