Aiming Step 1–As we walk the practice range tee at Fox Hollow, we see hundreds of alignment sticks on the ground, marking the target lines and foot lines of well-meaning golfers. That’s a great start to proper alignment, but you can’t stop there. We also see golfers holding clubs along their hip line to make sure their lower bodies are aimed down the target line. Again, a good start. But there’s a body part that is even more crucial to alignment than feet and hips: Your Shoulders.
What to watch for–Your shoulder line is the line your swing will ultimately travel down, so getting your shoulders correct is crucial. And there’s a built-in problem to everyone’s shoulder line. To find that fault, try this: Line up your feet, hips and shoulders perpendicular to your target line as you normally would, but without holding a club. Just stand there and be perpendicular. No problems so far. Now right-handers, add your left hand to the grip. Still no problem keeping your shoulders square to the target line. Now add your right hand…STOP. Your shoulders just opened and are pointing to the left. Try it again. Every time your right hand slides down the grip, your shoulders naturally open to the left. Everyone does it and that’s a main reason why the vast majority of golfers hit a slice.
Instead, we have to manually check and correct the shoulder line. If you feel the shoulders open, just manually close them again until they’re square to your target. For the first attempt, have a friend hold a club along your shoulder line and show you what it looks like to be square to your target. Once you see it, repeat it over and over until it looks normal and your shots go to your target. A proper shoulder line creates a lot of positives throughout the swing, including a correct takeaway that will lead to an inside-out swing, instead of the dreaded outside-in slice-producing swing that is so popular.
Aiming Step 2–Now that your shoulders are square to the target line, we can add another easy alignment tip. The intermediate target is something that every golfer needs to use. Made famous by Jack Nicklaus and his longtime teacher Jack Grout, the intermediate target is simple to understand and simple to implement in your game. Stand behind your golf ball and look at your target. Now, look a foot or two in front of your ball and find a distinguishing piece of grass or other object that lies between your ball and your target. There’s your intermediate target. The idea is that it’s easier to align your clubface and body to something a few feet in front of you versus something that’s 100, 200 or 300 yards away. As long as you’re aligned with your intermediate target, you know you’re aligned with your ultimate target. Use this tip while you’re practicing to make every shot count, instead of just banging balls at a field of grass. And use it on the golf course to help you commit to a target line and a particular shot for each swing.
If you have any questions on alignment, please give us a call in the Fox Hollow Golf Shop, or stop by and see us on the range.