My Golf Instructor

The Path to Accuracy

You have to align yourself correct on every shotAlign Yourself Properly on Each Shot

Have you ever been more frustrated than when you thought you pured a golf shot and it ended up missing your target by 20 yards? In most cases, you realize that you were miss-aligned. However, it is common for one to misinterpret that result as a swing error rather than faulty alignment.

If I had to come up with a perfect guess I would say 8 out of every 10 students that come to my lesson tee are frustrated telling me that they cannot aim themselves correctly to their target to save their life. This is obviously a huge problem as we all know golf is "a game of misses". It's hard enough to hit shots in the sweet spot. Ben Hogan said he only hit the sweet spot 4 times per round. We definitely don't want to see our good swings wasted because we were aimed at something other than the target.

I read once that if you are aimed 5 degrees off-line, you can miss a shot by close to 20 yards! Holy cow!

It goes without saying that it is no good having a perfect set up, perfect grip and perfect swing if the whole thing is miss-aligned. It sounds obvious but many players simply do not spend enough time getting themselves on target. - Nick Faldo

Why Are the Pros So Concerned with Alignment?

Early on, when I competed in professional events or attended them as a spectator, I was always taken by the number of players who had clubs laid on the ground at the practice tee. I would routinely see their swing coaches behind them helping them tinker with the smallest details in the set up, particularly alignment. Tour players are obsessive compulsive about alignment and that's putting it lightly. For they know how easily shots can be wasted with miss-alignment, but also how it can adversely affect their golf swing.

I often say "lack of practice on alignment is what keeps me in business." When players slowly get off on their aim it affects their swing causing compensations. Swing faults such as loops, reverse pivot, blocking, flipping and so on can all appear merely because a golfer wasn't properly aimed at their target. Trust me, if you are even remotely a decent athlete, you will find a way to re-route your swing to get the ball to fly in the direction you want it to go. The problem is, the more you do this, the more you think you are aimed correctly and viola, the habit is deeply grooved. When you actually do swing where you are aimed (not at the target) without adding all those compensations you will be mad at yourself thinking you did something wrong!!!

Golfers Have to Train Their Eyes to Align Properly

For years I have said that your eyes are like any other muscle in your body. They get in shape and out of shape. If you align off often enough and are repeatedly looking at your target from there, your eyes will send signals to your brain that this is "square to the target." When you practice properly with a club on the ground then your eyes will get used to what "square" actually is. Then when it comes time to step on the golf course and set up, if you are aimed improperly, signals will go off in your brain letting you know that you are not aimed at your intended target.

When talking about alignment, I can't forget to mention the importance of the club face. With the advent of launch monitors such as the Trackman we are learning just how important face alignment at impact is to the direction of the ball. It's sufficiently more important than we realized in the past. With an iron it is responsible for roughly 75% of the direction and with a driver roughly 85%. Path obviously makes up for the rest of the percentage. Learning to align your club face is crucial and can be a challenge. Some clubs are more difficult than others. Some are more straight or square along the bottom edge while others are more rounded. Knowing this, a lot of manufacturers have painted the bottom groove to help you get the face square. Drivers can be extra difficult as they can be rounded and have rounded faces. If you are having difficulties with this a simple switch to a brand that is more visually appealing can have a huge impact and ease your frustrations.

Stressing the importance of body and club face alignment is something I try to do in all my instruction. Proper alignment can help you gain consistency and establishing a proper practice plan will lead to more accuracy and less "wasted shots."

Maria Palozola

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.

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