There’s More to Aim Than You Think There Is

Last week we talked about getting into your setup using two lines, one for the clubface and one for your stance. These lines are shown in the two photos below.

They were taken in the street in front of my house so the aiming points in the background would be easier to see. Though it doesn’t look like it in the photographs, the two sticks are parallel to each other.

Look at the photo on the right (click to enlarge). The alignment stick is pointed at the white chimney. This is the ball’s target, toward which the clubface is aimed.

The alignment stick in the photo on the left is in the place where you would stand to hit the shot (click to enlarge). It is pointing at the edge of the house.

Yes, I know the sticks are only a few feet a part and if you extended them to the house they would still be a few feet a part. What is important here is appearance, not reality.

If you look downrange before you start your swing, you have to look at the right target. That is the one you are aimed at, not the one the clubface is aimed at.

If you look at the ball’s target, you create a conflict in your mind. Your body is a lined up in one direction (the edge of the house), but your mind is looking in a different direction (the chimney).

As a result, there will be a subtle confusion about where to direct your swing. This creates a discomfort which can be interpreted as a swing technique thing, even though that is not where the problem lies.

When you’re in your stance, ready to take the club back, take one more look down the fairway. Look at where your body is aimed, a place to the left of the ball’s target, because that is the direction the swinging motion of your body, standing to the left of the ball, will be directed toward.

If you swing toward that spot, the clubhead, which is displaced to the right of where you are standing, will automatically be swung toward the ball’s target.

Most of all, the the conflict I referred to above never arise. Only a feeling of confidence will be felt. That leads to your best swing coming out, and thus your best shots.

How to Get Into Your Setup

There’s a lot written about how you should set up for a swing. Details about grip, stance, posture, ball position, and aim are all very important.

But the process of getting into that setup deserves mention, too. Here is one way to do it. It is the way I do it and it works well.

1. Set your grip on the club with both hands. Make sure your hands are oriented properly.

2. Stand behind the ball on a straight a line from the target across the ball to your eyes.

3. Take a side-step to the left, still looking straight ahead, but now at a spot to the left of the target.

4. Walk straight toward that spot, looking at it the entire time.

5. When you get next to the ball, and while still looking at the spot, turn your body to face the ball.

6. Now you may turn your head to face the ball, get into your stance, and drop the clubhead behind the ball with good posture.

You are aimed and ready to go.

Note that item 4 has two parts to it. One, you are looking at the spot to the left of the target, not the target itself. Two, you look at that spot the entire time you are approaching the ball and getting into your stance. Do not take your eyes off that spot too soon or you will lose the line.

You might think this method is imprecise. Most books will tell you to aim the clubhead first and then align your body to it. That, actually, is the imprecise way to aim yourself.

We have a keen human sense of aligning ourselves to a distant point that we can take advantage of here. You can learn how to align yourself this way with just a little practice.

Next week I will have another post that extends this method to complete the setup mentally.