Tips from the Pro
July 19, 2006
Now that we are fully into the summer season and have had time to get out and play, think back on how many shots have felt great but landed away from the desired target. You might have hit the shot exactly where you were set up to unknowingly. Too many golfers overlook the importance of alignment. Alignment is a critical factor in determining which direction the ball flies in relation to where the body and clubface are aimed. In order to understand alignment, we must first talk about the relation of body and target line. Imagine railroad tracks, two parallel lines that will never cross paths. For a right-handed golfer, the left track is the body line, while the right track is the target line. The point of this example is to show how the body line should be just left of the target. If the body line is left of the target, the club face will be perpendicular or square to the target line. The goal here is to get the body parallel to the left line, while the clubface is square or pointed to the target on the right line.
In terms of getting the body square in the set up, we want to think about the parts of the body that control the direction and action of the swing. The shoulders and knees are the parts of the body that require the most attention. In your set up (only on the practice range), place a club on the ground halfway between the ball and your body that is parallel to the railroad tracks listed above. When your body feels comfortable, look and see if the shoulders and thighs are parallel with the club on the ground. In looking at your feet, they should each be the same distance from the club on the ground. If so, you can be sure your body is square to the target (which is just left of the target). In placing the club on the ground, take time to be sure the club is pointing in the correct direction. When you are on the golf course, stand behind the ball and draw an imaginary line from your target to the ball. When your line is set, pick a spot one to three inches in front of the ball. When setting up to the ball, square your clubface to the spot in front of the ball. When your face is square, align the body to the clubface and trust your set up.
With a change in alignment, most golfers will have a hard time adjusting visually to the target. Part of alignment is retraining the eyes to accept the new visuals. The eyes will tell the body the direction is wrong. If the body does not trust the new set up, swing compensations will be made, resulting in an offline shot. When playing on the course, trust the new alignment not the eyes. With work, the eyes will start to accept the new alignment and the body will react accordingly.
Ben Sinclair is a PGA member and golf pro at the Park City Golf Club.
For information on lessons and tee times, please call the golf shop at 615-5800.