If you hit the ball well, but suffer from consistency in your shot direction or shape, you may be suffering from alignment problems at address. This is an extremely important but very underrated factor in the golf swing, and most amateurs pay far too little attention to getting it right. Are your feet, hips, shoulders, and clubface aligned properly for each shot? Here’s a short test that will help you find out:
First, are your feet lined up parallel to the target line? This one is easy. Just address the ball as if you were going to hit a shot, then put a longish iron on the ground so that the shaft touches both of your toes. Then take another iron and carefully line it up just behind the ball with the grip end of the shaft pointing toward the target.
Now, step back and see if the shaft by your feet is parallel with the shaft behind the ball. If the shaft points to the left (for right handers) then you will tend to swing on an outside to in swing path, which will predispose you to hitting pulls, fades, slices. If the shaft points to the right of parallel, then you will tend to push, hook, or draw.
Second, check your hips and shoulders. This is a little tougher. Leave the clubs from step 1 in place and address the ball again. Have a friend stand behind you and lay a club across your hips and shoulders to tell where they are lined up. If they are pointing left or right of parallel to the target line the same problems from step 1 apply.
Third, check your clubface. Believe it or not, this can be the toughest one. Tape a 12″ plastic ruler or other straight object to the clubface and then address the ball normally. This will exaggerate any errors and tell you where you are aiming. If the clubface is aimed left of square (closed) you will tend to hook and if it is aimed right (open) you will tend to slice, depending on your grip and other factors in your swing.
Now, if the results of this test show that your alignment needs work, I suggest you check out some golf training aids that are designed to help you line up correctly. Several affordable training aids are available that really make practicing your alignment easy. Here are some tips for finding a golf training aid that will maximize your results.
1. Make sure the golf training aid is easily portable and easy to set up. If it’s not convenient to use, you won’t use it.
2. Get one that not only has a ‘T’ setup for aligning your feet and ball position, but also includes a mirror that will help you get your hips, shoulders, and head position right. Otherwise, why bother?
3. Use the golf training aid whenever you hit at the range, but make sure you practice without it as well. Hit 10 shots with, 10 without and alternate. Develop a feel for setting up square without the device, since you can’t use it on the course.
If you get a good golf training aid and use it consistently, you should see rapid improvements in your direction and ball striking consistency. Good luck!