The Importance of Alignment in Golf
The evolution of golf coaching has been positive in many respects.
Technology has enabled advancements to be made in the teaching of swing techniques; the levels of creativity (when it comes to drills and exercises) have increased significantly, and there is also greater flexibility in adapting swing models to suit each individual better.
But, invariably in many cases, the art of the golf swing has occasionally been complicated by all these developments, and, in some cases, the pursuit of radical swing changes has come at the expense of taking care of the basics.
And for me, the most crucial fundamental of all is one that is often forgotten: alignment.
Just remember, as, with anything else, body and brain work in tandem when it comes to the golf swing.
Your brain locks in the target by virtue of the eye and its sole objective will be to try and get the ball to go towards it.
But if your body is misaligned, and if the clubface is aiming left or right, your brain will override your natural swing path, and make whatever adjustments it can to compensate for the incorrect path your alignment is setting the ball on.
And that, quite simply, is how inconsistencies and flaws creep into your swing – and the shots you produce as a result.
It takes practice
Did you know that if your clubface is open or shut by just one degree, it can result in a miss of up to 15 yards?
And that’s assuming other things equal (i.e. that you make the perfect swing).
It, therefore, puts the importance of good alignment into clear perspective and underscores the importance of ingraining this into your swing.
So often, we as players head to the range and lazily rely on the eye to determine whether our body, clubface, and the target are all in sync.
Sure, most bays will have some reference for you to use. But how much thought do you put into using this before you hit each ball?
As with every other element of the swing, it takes practice to groove correct alignment.
Whether it’s a case of using video to check how you are lining up or simply laying down a club (or alignment sticks) parallel to your toes, it doesn’t require much effort – but the rewards, I can promise you, will be handsome.
Don’t fear change
If you haven’t been focusing on alignment until now, it is very likely that you’ll find that your body and clubface are in fact not square with the target.
Lack of proper alignment usually a manifestation of your eye-tricking you over time, and your body is blindly going along with it, and becoming comfortable with this faulty setup.
So, when you decide to shake things up, and re-align yourself correctly, it will almost always feel uncomfortable – so much so that your instinct will be to revert to the more comfortable – but inaccurate – alignment you had in place before.
Resist this urge at all costs!
As with any swing change, your body will be sending all sorts of flashing lights to your brain about how terrible it feels at address, and that there is no way a good shot could ensue.
But this is something you need to soldier through. It may even mean you endure a short period of hitting poor, misdirected shots on a consistent basis.
But this is purely a reflection of the bad habits you will have developed to compensate for the poor alignment you had in place previously.
Pushing through this pain barrier is the best way to iron all these flaws out. And don’t worry, your body is a lot cleverer than you think – it will adapt quickly, and all will feel normal again soon.
The golf swing is not an easy thing to master.
Grip, posture, swing plane, swing speed, wrist hinge, balance – these all take a lot of work to get right.
Alignment, on the other hand, is a nice piece of low-hanging fruit, and you don’t need to pay a coach a lot of money, nor purchase any fancy equipment to get it right. But it is every bit as important as all those other swing elements.
So, next time you head to the range, put a club down at your feet. Get someone to check where your clubface is aiming. And make this the primary focus of the bucket of balls you hit.
Because once you’ve taken care of this particular piece of business, you’ll have paved the way for body and mind to sing from the same hymn sheet.
And once that brains synapse connects with the body, good things tend to happen to your golf game. Very good things!
Article by Tom Davies