Golf alignment fundamentals video
Accurate alignment at address lies at the heart of sound swing mechanics, including of course your swing path. The inextricable link between the two should place alignment at the top of any every list of things to check and work on this winter.
Why alignment is key?
Where you place the clubface and your body at address marks the start point of the swing. The reason that it is so important to get your alignment right is that mistakes here will naturally send your swing path off line.
For instance – if you stand closed to your target line, you are likely to take the club away on the inside. Likewise, if you stand open the club will move away outside the target line.
Either way, if your club is working away on the wrong line, you’ll need to make compensations on the way down to get the club onto the ball.
These will happen naturally and the results can be every type of bad shot you can imagine. Some simple work on your alignment can naturally resolve what might seem like complicated swing path fixes.
What is alignment?
When we refer to alignment we are not talking only about the clubface. Aiming correctly means, crucially, getting your body lined up accurately as well. The key point to make here is that your body should NOT be aiming at your intended target.
The simplest way to explain how clubface and body alignment work is to draw an imaginary line from the target to the clubface – this is your target line.
Your feet hips and shoulders need to be parallel to your target line. So as you can see from this picture here, I am set up perfectly square to my target in a technically sound address position and my body is aiming about 10 yards left of my target line. Understanding this principle is an essential element to finding technically sound swing.
Feet, knees, hips & shoulders
At address your feet, knees, hips and shoulders all need to be aligned correctly, parallel to your target line.
One mistake that players often make is to take care over clubface and feet alignment but forget about the rest.
Crucially, if, once you have set your address position, you look up at your target, you may have a tendency to open your shoulders.
This will throw out the path of your swing. So if you take a look at your target once at address, make sure you get yourself back into a good position before you pull the trigger.
I often coach players who struggle, for one reason or another, to rotate through the ball. To help in this scenario, I get players to open out their left toe slightly at address, aiding the clearance of the hips.
However, if you do this it can be hard to see exactly where you are aligned. That’s why it makes sense to get a friend to place an alignment stick along the line of your heels. As long as this stick is parallel to your target line, you’ll be in a solid position at address.
Fact v Fiction
Our eyes can play tricks on us at address and that’s why even the best players in the world get a second opinion from a coach on their alignment.
It may well be that you’ve been aiming too far left or right for years and that aiming off line actually appears to be correct to you.
Get a friend or a coach to check your alignment regularly. It might be that setting up square to your body-line feels completely alien to you – in which case you need to stick with it until it feels right as good alignment could have a profoundly positive effect on your game.