If you were going to shoot at a target with a rifle, you would aim it at the target first. Pretty obvious. If you were going to hit a golf ball toward a target, you would aim yourself first, too. Obvious, but seldom nicely done by recreational golfers.
Many times, what you think is a swing problem is really a matter of not getting aimed* when you set up for the shot. When a golfer is mis-aimed, it is almost always to the right of the target. The subconscious mind knows this, and tries to make a correction during the downswing to get the swing aimed at the target again. Correcting like this is unreliable and is a cause of shots that fly off in every direction — there’s no consistent miss.
I use an intuitive method of aiming that never fails me. Step behind the ball on a line connecting the ball and the spot downrange you are aiming for. Find something on the ground about a foot in front of the ball on that line — a piece of dirt, a distinctive blade of grass, or the like. This is the aim line.
Now step up to the ball and put the clubhead down behind the ball so the grooves are square to the aim line. Hold the clubhead there and turn your head to look at the target.
Now comes the intuitive part. Without moving your head, and as you look at the target, step into your stance. Your feet will automatically find the places that put your stance parallel to your aim line.
As you’re learning to do this, put down some sticks, one along your aim line and another against your heels, to check that your feet are indeed parallel to your aim line.
The proof for me that this method works comes whenever I have a swing lesson. I step into the shot like this and the pro, standing behind me to look down the line just says one word — Perfect.
Don’t be afraid to aim your short shots, too, especially the chips you think you can hole out. There’s nothing more frustrating that leaving a chip hole-high but three feet to the right because that’s where you were aimed.
I like to stand behind the ball and hold out my club horizontally in front of me to find a spot on the ground in front of my ball on the aim line. Getting your feet parallel to this line is not too difficult. The real object is to swing along this line.
* Aim is the direction you are set up to swing at. Alignment is the geometric relation of the lines across your feet, knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders.
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