Alignment: Right on Target
By John Hughes, PGA
How many times have you hit the career shot only to see it fly in a direction you never anticipated? Chances are you probably blamed the errant shot on something in your swing. However, did you ever think of accepting the fact that your swing was probably great, it was your alignment that was poor? Alignment is arguably one of the most important parts of your basic golf set-up. Over 95% of all "swing flaws" are traceable to a set-up position. Improperly aiming to your target can cause a good majority of those flaws. Simply stated, alignment is your ability to properly place your body in a position to allow the proper movement of the club through the ball. Without proper alignment, your body receives mixed signals from your brain, in relation to your body position and your intended target. Modern day science has developed the Global Positioning System, or G.P.S. This system, based on the geometric principles of triangulation, calculates your position on earth no matter where you might be. Your brain "triangulates" your position on the golf course every time you attempt a golf shot, no matter where you are on the golf course. The three points the brain references is: 1) You -- in relation to the ball and your target. 2) The Ball -- in relation to your body and the target. 3) The Target -- in relation to the ball and your body. Your eyesight and your ability to use your eyesight to see and calculate this triangle can greatly affect your body's ability to swing the club to your target. Your brain receives this calculation, or envisioned image, as a photo. Your brain consistently uses this photo to determine how your body should move, or better yet, react to where you how you have placed your body in an "aim" position. You have already told your brain, "Hit the ball to the target." If your brain calculates you are aimed 45 degrees right of your target, the brain will tell the body to compensate for where you have aimed your body. Unless you have super powers, it is difficult, at best, to hit a shot to a target consistently with out aiming properly. Enough with the why, now for the how. How do you aim properly? Let's start with your eyes. You should stand behind your ball in a direct line to your target, allowing plenty of space between you and the ball to actually envision an imaginary line from the target through your ball to you. This line, or "target line" is longest side of the triangle. Most people stand too close to the ball or astride the ball, prohibiting them from properly seeing how they have aimed to their intended target. As you see this line, you should look for a target much closer to the ball, probably within 2-4 feet of the ball that is on your target line. It is much easier to aim to something much closer to you, then to something 100 or more yards away from you. As well, this shorter target is easier to continually reference as you address the golf ball. Now that you have found your short target, place the leading edge of the golf club in a position to be perpendicular to the target line. So many golfers improperly use the top of the club rather than the bottom of the clubas an aim guide. Once the club is perpendicular, you can now place your feet into the shot. This should place your feet on a "Body Line" that is parallel to your target line. If you are right-handed, you will feel as if your shoulders are actually aimed left of your target or "parallel left" (parallel right for the left-handed golfer). This is a proper photo for your brain to see prior to swing the golf club. If you have never experienced this picture before, you are sure to have aimed incorrectly. It will take a while for your brain to see things differently. However, just changing your alignment to a proper position can make drastic improvements to your ball flight, as well as your club path, club head at impact, and posture.