I’m very deliberate when I take on anything new. Following advice from some of the world’s leading innovators, the use of the purposeful practice is big in the growth of my golf game. Once you dedicate yourself to becoming better at golf, the world of golf training devices opens up.
There are thousands of golf training devices, and new ones are introduced all the time. However, many of these devices come and go. Others stand the test of time. Golf alignment sticks have stood the test of time. Let’s talk about how to use golf alignment sticks.
Golf alignment sticks are very simple in design and use. To echo their simple design, the golf fundamental they work on is basic. Alignment. Even the greatest golf swing is wasted with bad alignment. So, despite their simplicity, golf alignment sticks can create major improvements in your game.
Golf alignment sticks are simply two slender sticks. There are some simple ways to use this tool to improve your alignment. The first way to use the sticks is to set them up like a path or a set of train tracks. Place the golf ball on the ground and pick a target. Place the first stick on the far side of the ball pointing directly at your target.
Then place the second stick on the other side of the ball parallel to the first stick. You should have enough room to stand over the ball and swing through the sticks. Adjust the second stick if necessary. This would be an ideal setup below.
Now go behind the sticks and look at the path to the target. You are simply going through your pre-shot routine at this point. Walk to the ball and stand at address. Your toes should be lined up with the golf alignment stick.
This may feel strange at first. Many of us have been hitting the ball with the wrong alignment for years without knowing it. So the wrong alignment is now comfortable. Just trust the sticks at this point.
Line up your feet with the sticks and your clubface in the center behind the ball. Now swing. Watch where your ball goes and adjust. Your ball should be landing close to your target unless you are mishitting.
Proper alignment is fundamental but often overlooked. Like a home, your golf game needs a good foundation. Let’s look at other ways to work on your alignment.
Other Ways To Use Alignment Sticks
Create a narrow path. The train track drill above helps with a swing path. Move the stick by your feet closer to the ball, creating a narrower path. This will help you if your swing is too outside-in.
Get more power and distance in your shot. Place an alignment stick straight up into the ground in front of your front foot. When you rotate through the shot, your hip should bump forward and touch the stick. You can see the setup position below.
Fix your takeaway with alignment sticks. Another visual drill. Lay one alignment stick directly behind your ball, pointing at your target. Practice a slow takeaway over and over again, making sure your clubface runs along the alignment stick. Speed up your swing little by little until you are taking full swings. This will help train your muscles to hit along a straight line and takeaway correctly.
Improve your ball striking with irons. Place an alignment stick one inch behind the ball but perpendicular to your target line. The goal is to not hit the stick on your downswing. You want to hit down on the ball. This practice can end up breaking the alignment stick. So be forewarned.
Work on your swing plane. Place the alignment stick a few feet behind your back toe. Make sure the stick mirrors the angle of your club at address. This is another drill where you should do a slow backswing to get used to the muscle feel. The club should ride up the stick on the backswing.
Find the ball in your stance. Just like alignment, many golfers will have the ball in the wrong spot in their stance. Sometimes too far forward. Sometimes too far back. This drill is another simple visual drill. Place the sticks as a “T.” One stick will point towards your target. The other stick lays perpendicular. The second stick will point towards the ball. Line your toes along the first stick. The second stick will give you a visual of where the ball is in your stance. You can see the setup below.
These simple drills will help you lay a solid foundation for your golf swing. As golfers, it’s easy to overlook simple training that largely affects the game. Start on a strong note, and the rest of your game will be easier.
Why Is Alignment Important
Alignment is one of the most fundamental parts of a golf swing. This is not important just in a direct shot from Point A to Point B. Alignment is used for variants in your shot.
Alignment is critical when you hit with a draw or a fade. Most golf swings have either a fade or a draw. With proper alignment, you can adjust your aim so that any ball movement in the air will still land where you need it to land.
Playing with any crosswind will affect your alignment as well. Pay attention to the flag and how it blows. Adjusting your alignment to play with the wind will give you margin for error. This will save you strokes from hazards as well.
Other Golf Fundamentals
Often we focus on the bigger things in golf, like our swing. The reason is pretty simple. Working on driving and long irons is fun. We get to feel the club hit the ball. The ball flies far, and even if you hit one good shot out of ten, it’s very satisfying. However, we need to work on the simple fundamentals to get the satisfaction of those other good shots.
Besides alignment, the other overlooked fundamental is golf grip. You can’t swing properly if you don’t have a good golf grip. Think about it. A great grip will improve your shot striking immediately. It can even fix a slice. So how do we get a perfect grip?
Just like anything else, bad habits can become ingrained and then tough to break. Working on the proper grip will take some time, but it is worth it.
Visit your local golf pro shop. If your clubs are not fitted, there’s a good chance your grips may be the incorrect size for your hands. The local pro shop will be able to tell you if you need a new grip size.
When you pick up your club, always use your weak hand first. For instance, let’s say you are right-handed and your weak hand is your left hand. Turn your left hand enough to see 2 knuckles. Then grasp the grip, leaving about an inch of club above your hand. The ‘V’ between your thumb and pointer finger should point towards your right shoulder. Your left thumb needs to lay on the right side of the grip.
Take your right hand and grip the club with the thumb laying on the left side of the grip. Your right pinkie should overlay the pointer finger of your left hand. Some people will hook their pinkie and pointer, but this can cause pain.
When you grip the club you want it to be a gentler grip. Not too gentle, but not hard enough to squeeze the life out of the club. This grip may feel awkward at first. Make sure you practice your grip just like you practice your alignment. The SKLZ Golf Grip Trainer is an inexpensive training aid that will help you improve your grip. You can pick that up on Amazon here.
Work Your Foundational Pieces
Grip the club properly.
These foundational parts of the golf swing are common sense. However, they are often taken for granted. Just like tennis players will drill footwork without a racquet, a golfer needs to work on grip and alignment. Don’t overlook these simple steps. Block out practice time when you are at the driving range. Practice your grip when you are at home watching television.
There is no excuse for not having correct alignment or grip. Your golf game will start shaving strokes when you get these pieces down to the point where you don’t even have to think about them.