AIM AND ALIGNMENT ACCURACY FORM
Golfers aim and align inaccurately, often by 10 to 50 yards or more on a target
200 yards away. When they start this experiment, they are often stunned at the
direction they find their body misaligned and the number of yards it is off
target. However, if repeated enough, the feedback they receive in this exercise
corrects the problem. The golfer should repeat it several times at each practice
session in the future to maintain correct aim and alignment. This simple change
often is enough to correct a long time errant ball flight pattern.
Here is what to do. Align your body about two or three feet to the left of
the initial flight line you plan. If you plan a straight shot, that would be
on a line that is two or three feet to the left of the target. However, suppose
you plan to start a ball on a line that is 10 yards to the right of the target
and curve it back 10 yards to the left. In that case, you align on a line that
is ten yards to the right of the target, plus the two or three feet to the left
of that line. It is two or three feet because that is about how far your shoulders
and feet usually are from the ball at address.
After you aim and align on a shot during every practice session, check your alignment
for at least two places on your body, namely your heels and your shoulders. The
heels are a useful alignment check because you can do it without the assistance
of a bystander.
Shoulders are important because they are the closest link to the arms, which
control the movement of the club, the only element that hits the ball. If you
are an excellent golfer who is serious about the game, you may wish to check
three other additional alignments: your knees, hips and eyes.
Check your alignment of your heels, not your toes. Many players flair out the
toe of one foot or the other. This would not change the location of your heels,
but it does give you a distorted perception of your foot alignment.
Simply have the club touch each heel. Step directly behind the club on the
ground and sight the direction of your alignment error and the estimated distance
of the line from a narrow target, such as a flagstick, or the far left corner
of a sand bunker. Record the data for all aim and alignment errors on the form
shown above. Recording the data in writing and maintaining such a record long
term is what makes this work.
Estimate the alignment error in yards at a specific target or at an arbitrary
point on a target line that is always the same distance away, either 100 or
200 yards. In that way, the amount of error will be comparable from session
to session. A target of 100 yards is preferable because it is easy to convert
the error into a percentage. If you are misaligned 15 yards at a target 100
yards away, it is a 15% error (15/100 x 100 = 15%). But if the distance of the
alignment target varies, you either must use a calculator or be a math whiz
by doing the calculation in your head.
When the distance of the target varies, the estimated yards of error are not
directly comparable unless converted into a percentage. Note that the angle
of error is the same when you have a 15-yard error at 100 yards and a 30-yard
error at a 200-yard target.
Ask someone to place a clubshaft lightly touching the tips of your shoulders.
Ask that person to hold that shaft in the air without moving it in the slightest.
Do not have that person place the club on the ground or hold it with one hand,
both of which cause distortions.
Step back away from the club without bumping the club held by the other person
and walk directly behind the club. Sight the error and record the direction
and yards of error.
Repeat this until you can align within three, five or ten yards of the target,
or whatever standard you want to meet, five alignments in a row. Continue this
every time you practice. Aim and alignment improves. Once you align correctly,
focus on the parts of your body that will give you a visual cue or feel as to
where your align, such as the left shoulder, Make specific notes on that for
Another useful practice is to have the observer stand directly behind you on
the exact line you form with the tip of your shoulders. Ask the observer to
tell you the direction of any misalignment and the estimated distance from a
narrow target. Without stepping away, make an adjustment in shoulder alignment
until the observer tells you are aligned accurately.
At that point, without moving, ask yourself what you see or feel in your left
shoulder. Students typically say, “It feels as if I am aligned 10 yards
to the right of the target.” Or, “When I align correctly I can see
my left shoulder, but not when I align to the left of it. Make detailed notes
of what you see and feel, retain them and review those notes periodically.
You can check your aim of the clubface with several methods, but they are not
as accurate as you may wish. One way is to check the lowest groove on the clubface
and have it at right angles to the initial direction you intend to start the
shot. Another is to have a block of wood flush against the clubface and move
the clubface forward from the address position and see if the wood moves straight.
An observer can also attach a rubber suction plug to the clubface with a stick
extending out that points to the direction the clubface is looking. It is hard
to attach it without moving the clubface. There probably other devices I may
be overlooking. Email me with what works for you.