Aim Small ... Miss Small
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The title of this article is one of my favorite lines from the Mel Gibson movie, "The Patriot." In this scene, Gibson's character takes his two very young sons and a handful of rifles to head off the British soldiers who have taken his oldest son as a spy. He asks his two young scared sons, "What did I teach you about shooting?", to which one replies "Aim small, miss small." I think that's great advice in golf, too, and the subject today is prompted by an email from Mario R., who asked:
I'm in my 5th year of playing the game and I am still having trouble lining up my shots. My shot making has improved dramatically the past two years. The thing is I find myself either left or right of where I thought I was going to hit my shot . . . what I'm talking about is lining up, hitting it straight as an arrow and not going where I thought I was aiming. I'm stuck in bogey land! Any suggestions?Well, Mario, I'll tell you that if you went to the practice range at any PGA Tour event, it would be a good bet that over half of the guys out there are working on alignment and set up. It’s crucially important and requires constant work, tweaking and fine-tuning, to keep yourself in proper alignment. And I’m a firm believer that proper alignment is the most glaring fault of amateur players. The funny thing is that anyone should be able to learn how to set up to the ball the same way every time, right? I mean, that doesn’t take any athletic ability, does it?
The key is to develop a fixed routine for how you address the ball, so that you can repeat it over and over and over again. You need to learn this on the range, and practice it diligently. The starting point is to understand just what “dead-on” alignment looks like. You see more and more bags these days with the colored sticks in them, but one of the simplest and best alignment aids is the use of a couple of your clubs. Another simple tool is some colored twine that you can stretch between tees stuck in the ground. Let’s dissect proper alignment using any of these methods of creating a visual straight line grid.
First, lay one club/stick/string on the ground pointing directly at your target, about 4-6 inches outside the ball. Then lay another exactly parallel to it and about 18 inches closer to you – that one is your guide to alignment of your feet, hips and shoulders. These clubs don’t lie – that is what perfect alignment looks like. If it feels “off” to you, then your alignment has been wrong. Let’s fix it.
I like to use a third club sometimes, to help work on ball position. I lay that one across the body alignment club, at right angles to it, pointing to the ball’s position. That way I can reference this club’s relationship to my stance and body position. Moving the ball too far forward or too far back is as common a misalignment error as aiming left or right.
Once you have your “grid” built, step into each shot with purpose, paying attention to how proper alignment feels – the clubs don’t lie; they are pointing in the right place. Pay extra attention to the “sight picture” when you are properly aimed, so that you can repeat that on the course. Drill on this as much and as often as you can, and it won’t take long before you can “see” proper alignment on every shot on the course, just as if those clubs/sticks/string were right there on the ground.
I hope that helps, Mario, and congratulations on winning a new EIDOLON wedge. There’s one to be given away every Tuesday, readers, so send in your question for The Wedge Guy to answer.
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
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[ comments ]
I agree that the alignment is one aspect that all golfers would have to constantly check....after a while the mind says I'm still aligned parallel but when I really check, I'm not!
A great tip that I have received on how to check this alignment ON THE COURSE (as we may not lay clubs on the ground when playing), was to take my address position and grip the club. I then take my right hand (for right-handed players) of the club and position my forearm horizontal across and pressed lightly against my chest and left arm. I then make my thumb and pointer finger like a pistol with my thumb turned skywards.
Your pointer finger is now showing you where you are actually aiming!! You would then correct your alignment by turning your COMPLETE setup, not just the shoulders!
Hope this helps some.
Couldn't agree more and have said this to myself countless times!
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