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Golf seems like a child’s play to any passerby, but those who attempted playing and those who play regularly know that golf is a very technical game. Starting golf from using the right club for the right shot to different postures, golf has many open ends that can lead you into making a wrong move easily.
Players often read and research about the kind of shoes, balls, and clubs they should buy, which posture suits them, which kind of shot they should make etc., but they forget about the very first step they need to keep in mind- the proper alignment.
Not knowing how to align properly can hamper the game and cause for most missed shots.
- What is Alignment in Golf?
- Why is Alignment Important?
What is Alignment in Golf?
The basics of the game of golf are that the player shoots the ball from the tee using a club and the ball should land or roll into a designated hole. Now, this looks way simpler in the text but landing a hole in an actual game might even require a geometry box. As a result, some players feel just getting started in that sense.
If the player cannot correctly determine the alignment, they will miss the hole 10/10 times. This makes it quite apparent that alignment is a crucial part of playing golf. It is one of, if not, the most important fundamental of golf.
Often the hole is called at the beginning of the game, but there are also games where the hole is uncalled, and the player can aim at any hole.
On the other hand, if the alignment is not all right, meaning if the imaginary line connecting the foot of the player does not align with the designated hole, the ball will not enter the hole at any cost. Hence, the player will lose precious scores.
However, alignment is imaginary, and below are some ways people mess up the alignment in golf.
Not Being Focused
Golf in terms is a simple, swing, hit, and hole. Nevertheless, swinging and hitting the ball with the club requires focus and balance. If the player is not focused, they will lose sight of the hole.
Their body will loosen up. They might swing over the top but their breath might not be steady, and their posture will break. Golf is a gentleman’s game. As such, it requires a certain degree of poise, patience, and grace. Much of that is displayed by the golfer’s show of focus in their swings.
If the player fails to focus, their brain and body will not co-ordinate, and as a result, they will mess up the alignment. A deviation of even a single degree can cause the ball to be off the grid. This does not only sacrifice precious shot accuracy but also makes your games more frustrated rather than engaging.
Any expert player would tell you that you have to be immersed when playing golf. If you end up letting your mind track other arbitrary things, you would be better off thinking of those than taking so much time off of your day to drive to the garden to play golf.
You want to make the most of your time, don’t you? So keeping focus is vital for a fun, immersive and well-performed game.
Swinging the Club Improperly
The club has a specific weight to it When the player swings the club, it hits the ball at a certain angle. This should be calculated so that the ball lands the hole. However, if the player does not know how to swing properly, his alignment will be disrupted.
Accordingly, there are different kinds of swings for different purposes, and for each swing, the alignment should be calculated.
Most golf swings require a shoulder motion and often the players are rigid, or they do not know the proper posture for playing golf. The players stand at the wrong side of the target line and end delivering a weak swing which causes the ball to move out of alignment.
Lack of Visualization
Golf is typically played at an open field where the target destination is 100 yards apart. Even if the holes are uncalled, the player should have a proper visualization of where his desired hole is.
Otherwise, he will not be able to align properly towards the destination and will deliver a missed shot. Often the players swing and hit at random directions and they do not maintain a clubface.
As a result, the ball deters from the path and with each inch the ball creates a giant distance from the target. Then this might take two to three hits to hole. However, alignments are imaginary so how exactly can one properly align in golf?
Why is Alignment Important?
The brain and the bodywork should maintain a coordination. If the brain cannot settle on a specific decision, the body will not be able to coordinate its movement.
Consequently, if the player does not know how to align his body properly, he will miscalculate and swing in directions that will not aid his shot, rather deter from the destinations.
For example, if the player positions himself at the wrong side of the target line, he will end up slicing or pulling the shot by swinging in the wrong direction.
Moreover, alignment is more than just setting a target and aiming for it. It requires the skill to calculate the angles and the speed to land a hole because even a degree to the left or right will create a huge distance from the ball to the target.
Likewise, each shot requires a specific alignment that would align the hips, shoulder, and legs for that specific shot. Typically there are 3 types of alignment, and mastering each alignment can increase chances of landing a hole immensely. These are:
This alignment type is suitable for shots that require a straight hit. This alignment can be achieved by keeping the knees, feet, shoulder hips at a similar distance by facing towards the desired destination.
One thing to keep in mind is that the club should always face the hole and only then the alignment can be correct. Use the shoulder muscles to swing. The upper body golf swing is recommended for the square type of alignment as it will keep the lower body in place and will allow the player to stay in the target line.
It is suggested for right-handed players, and through this alignment, the player will be able to achieve a fade shot. The clubface should be facing the hole which will allow the open shot to transition into a nice fade. The players’ posture should face the left side of the alignment line as the player is right-handed.
This alignment is the most effective with a lower-body swing where the motion starts from the bottom and ends with a strong swing. The upper body and the torso along with the shoulders move parallelly to the shaft and then the lower body moves.
Closed alignments are recommended for right-handed players as well, and this kind of alignment helps in achieving a draw shot. It requires the opposite posture of an open alignment. That means, the shoulder, knees, and feet of the player should be pointing towards the left of the target alignment line.
Accordingly, it is mandatory that the club faces the hole for all these alignments. This stand is typically called a clubface. For a proper clubface, the player can stand at a distance from the golf ball and chose a point on the field that would align with the target and start from there.
There are other tips and techniques that can be followed for achieving proper alignment.
Maintain a Specific Distance Before Taking the Shot
At the beginning of the game, the golf ball is on the tip, which alleviates it a few inches from the ground. During this shot, the player should position themselves a few feet, preferably four to five feet from the ball and imagine a line that connects the toe of the player to the target.
The player needs to stand behind the ball and have a proper visualization of the target; otherwise, they will not be able to draw the line from the tip to the target.
Another trick is to close the left eye and use the shadow of the club to trace an imaginary line, but this can only be done when the sun is at a position for casting a prominent shadow.
After the initial shot, when a tip is no longer required, the player should adjust the distance from the ball accordingly so that they don’t miscalculate.
Proper Swing and Co-ordination
Knowing proper methods of swinging can help in sticking to the alignment that connects the ball to the target. Keep the club steady in your hand and keep the shoulder and knees parallel. Close one eye for better focus and this will also help to make an accurate assumption.
Moreover, the player should master a few golf swings with practice. Likewise, adult beginners can start with Dog Swings. This swing has been labeled such as the power required for this wing is generated from the center of the body which is the torso. This swing uses large muscles.
However, the pros usually play by total body swing. That not only keeps the body in alignment if started properly but also gives the ball momentum and helps the ball gain more distance.
Always Maintain a Clubface
For proper alignment, it is crucial to face the club towards the target hole. This will aid the imaginary line, and the player will be able to determine which side of the target line they should stand and where to aim the shaft. Maintaining a clubface is also important for keeping proper posture.
Drills to Improve Alignment
A beginner cannot expect to become the next Tiger Woods by merely reading about proper golf alignment on the internet. It cannot be stressed enough that building experience is paramount to bring forth results.
You can read a thousand articles, but you cannot improve unless you build practical experience. In that sense, it is quite impractical to go to the garden every day to build your skills. Nevertheless, there are a few convenient drills that you can do at the comfort of your own home.
Drill 1 – Posture Practice
The first and simplest drill is to practice the steps you need to make to be properly aligned. When you have nothing to do, waiting through an advertisement or just waiting in general, get up and take your club or a stick of a similar length. Then take up the proper postures to practice the closed, open or square alignment.
Make some light swings and try to keep your posture still. Employ this drill whenever you have free time.
Drill 2 – The Straight Shot
This drill requires:
- A golf club
- A golf ball
- Blocks or equivalent substitutes
- A fairly open space (like a backyard)
For this drill, go to open space and place your golf ball. Take two blocks and place them on each side of the golf ball with just enough distance to fit the clubface. Place a few more blocks parallel with the first two blocks.
The objective of this drill is to make sure your shots can travel in a complete and straight line. To do this, take your club, and learn to position the head between the blocks. Make sure your golf club does not touch the blocks when performing your swing.
Once you make the swing, observe whether or not the swing moves through the incoming blocks in a completely straight line. Keep practicing this drill until you can make straight shots naturally.
Drill 3 – Angled Swings
This drill requires:
- A golf club
- A golf ball (Optional)
- Blocks or equivalent substitutes
- A reasonably open space (like a backyard)
Follow the same instructions told by the previous drill. The only difference is that you will be making long swings between the blocks. A golf ball is not necessary for this step as you might not be able to find an environment where you can make long shots.
This drill will teach you how to make long swings while maintaining proper alignment. Carry out these drills regularly, and your alignment will improve drastically over the weeks.
To start off strong, every player should know how to align the ball properly from the tee to the target. Following the basic steps discussed above, a player will be able to determine which alignment is suitable for which shot and a hole in one go!