How To Line Up A Golf Shot

To properly line up a golf shot, you need the correct alignment. Alignment should be the very first thing you concern yourself with when setting out to make a good consistent golf swing. Alignment deals with the relationship between the imaginary lines extending from your feet, shoulders and clubface towards the target direction.

Even though beginners and amateurs generally understand the importance of properly lining up a golf shot, most of them don’t get it 100% right. It’s such a seemingly basic thing to account for that many people don’t think they need to check it. The reality is that your alignment does need to be checked, even if you don’t think anything is amiss — professional golfers would know, as they do it every time they practice on the range.

Not paying attention to your alignment or changing your alignment to accommodate flaws in your golf swing can eventually allow bad habits to develop. Learning and ingraining good alignment habits is an easy way to get you ahead of the game and on the fast track to shooting impressive scores.

So, what is the correct way to line up a golf shot?

There are three common ways to align yourself with the golf ball, each corresponding to a certain shot tendency. You can think of your foot line, knee line, hip line and shoulder line all moving together “as one” — their orientation relative to the ball-to-target line is what determines the alignment that is being employed. The first is the square alignment, and the others are the open alignment and closed alignment. These alignments are, to a certain extent, self-explanatory, and they are detailed in the table below. I strongly recommend that beginners and other amateurs start with the square alignment first and learn to master it before thinking of experimenting with different alignments for any reason.

Square- your shoulders, hips, knees and feet are parallel to the ball-to-target lineStraight
Open- your shoulders, hips, knees and feet point left of the target line (for a right-handed golfer)Fade (left-to-right for a right-handed golfer)
Closed- your shoulders, hips, knees and feet point right of the target line (for a right-handed golfer)Draw (right-to-left for a right-handed golfer)

It’s important to note that, with all of these alignments, the clubface should always be pointing directly at the target; this is what allows a normal swing in open and closed alignments to produce fades and draws, respectively (a re-grip will be necessary in these cases). Also note that swinging through open and closed stances/alignments in just one way out of many to shape shots.

To achieve a clubface line that points directly at the target, try picking out a point on the ground (a leaf, dirt particle or mark on the grass) a few feet away from the golf ball that lies on the ball-to-target line and align your clubface with it. You’ll probably need to step away from the ball first and visually determine an appropriate point to choose. I discuss this technique and talk more about alignment in my popular 5 tips for beginners article.

Here are a couple more tips for achieving good alignment…

  • check your alignment — in particular, the orientation of your shoulder line, hip line, foot line and clubface line — every time you’re out on the practice range. You can use clubs or alignment aids as a visual reference.
  • have someone else check your alignment to verify that it’s what you intend. Take and analyze pictures of yourself set up over the ball from behind and in front.

For a visual guide and discussion on proper alignment (square alignment in particular), watch the video below with PGA pro Pete Styles:

Be persistent, consistent and dedicated to working on properly lining up your golf shot and it will start to become second nature. Once you become confident that you can align your shot without thinking about it, you’ll be glad that you put in the necessary work to get to that point. With a strong swing foundation on which to build upon, you’ll be able to turn your focus to other important aspects of the swing and take that next step towards developing a good golf game.

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Image courtesy of:  Amazon