Pro Tip of the Week: Get Better at Lining Up

By Wayne | Articles: Becoming a Better Player

After teaching for 30 years one thing I can tell you for sure is that the average player is not very good at aiming. Aligning properly for a golf shot is difficult because, unlike shooting a gun or a bow and arrow (or most other activities that require aim) in golf you have to stand to the side of the target line and figure out how to get your body and you club to be square (perpendicular) to that line. The eyes often fool you when it comes to figuring out where a line across your feet is pointing for any given shot. I will ask a student where they are aiming, and when they tell me “at the blue flag” I can almost always drop a stick or a club on the ground up against each foot and show them that they are wildly off, most times well to the right. Of course, the student is shocked to see this, so after I adjust the alignment stick to its proper position (parallel to the target) and have them put their feet back up against the new position they always feel as though they are lined up way off line, even though they know that they are now square to the target. This brings me to the phrase that will help you more than anything with your ability to aim: “It’s not what looks like square, it’s what square looks like.” If you practice doing what I just wrote (aim, put the club across your toe line, walk back and check it, then fix the stick and put your feet back against it) you will see what actually lining up square looks like to you. For the vast majority of players square looks way left, or open. Rather than fight this perceptual problem you just need to understand that if you are going to be able to line up correctly on the course you need to know that you might have to make your feet look like they are not aimed correctly at all. If you aim consistently to the right, you can just drop your left foot back off the line and know you are much closer to being correct. Practice this on the range and you can learn to line up perfectly every time.

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Leigh August 22, 2016

I spent my life as a baseball player throwing to a target when I was sideways to it. I just step up and hit a golf ball and it goes where I want if I strike it properly. Of course I have to emphasize “if I strike it correctly.” Maybe decades playing and coaching baseball trained me to see a target from a side ways position and to judge how hit it.

I do still follow you pre-shot routine to avoid falling into bad habits. It also gives me an added sense of confidence.

My greatest difficulty in aiming comes when I have a sidehill/uphill lie (ball above my feet). I often aim too far right — meaning I overestimate the amount the ball will go left off of the uphill/sidehill lie. I cannot figure how to calculate the degree the ball will go left off of the incline.

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