Category Archives: aim

Bryson’s Compass

I think I know why Bryson DeChambeau carries a compass. There is a long par 4 on the course I played yesterday that hides the fairway because of terrain. You think you are aiming down the middle and your straight-ahead drive ends up in the right rough, which keeps happening to me. I can’t bring myself to aim left enough.

I thought, if I had an azimuth from the tee box to the unseen center of the fairway, that would solve my problem. Then I could take a compass to the course and find a spot in the distance on that bearing to aim at.

How to do it? Go to this web site.

The site borrows Google Maps. Put the name of your golf course in the Search box and when it comes up, zoom in and click on Satellite.

Click on Start a Course and click on the tee box in question. Drag the mouse to the center of the fairway. A red line will appear, and a table to the left of the satellite image will show you the azimuth in degrees. In this case I got 221 degrees.

(Click images to enlarge)

So far, so good, but that is a true bearing. If you’re going to use a compass, you must correct for your local magnetic declination to get the magnetic bearing that you will read on your compass. Find that by going here.

Pay attention now, because here comes the the tricky part.

If the declination is EAST, subtract it from the bearing you got on first the web page to get the magnetic bearing of the line to the center of the fairway.

If the declination is WEST, add it to the bearing you got on the first web page to get the magnetic bearing of the line to the center of the fairway.

The declination of the location in my example is 15 degrees east, so subtracting that from 221 gives me a bearing of 206 degrees to aim the tee shot.

So I’ll stand on the tee, take out the compass, align the dial to North, and see where 206 degrees points to.

Brilliant, no?

This all sounds like a lot of work, but you only have to do it once for that tee box. Plus, it’s kind of fun to explain to the people in your foursome just what the heck you’re doing.

By the way, if you go to this work, you for sure better find the fairway with your tee shot instead of the right rough. Again.

An Easy Trick For Hitting Accurate Golf Shots

I’m going to show you something I have been doing for years to hit accurate golf shots. By that I mean the ball goes in the direction I intend. (To hit the ball straight, that is, without curvature, see A Basic Golf Swing.)

This trick is so easy you won’t think it will work, but it does, if you believe in it.

All you have to do is imagine a short line going away from the ball in the direction you want to hit the ball (see photo). Do this just before you take the club away.

(The line you imagine doesn’t have to be red, as in the photo. Something from the taupe family also goes well with green.)

I’m no expert on how the mind works, but it seems to me that by giving your unconscious mind a last-second order to swing the club through the ball along the line you imagined, that mind takes over to make it happen.

You aim yourself when you set up to the ball. This is how you aim your swing, which is a different task.

When I’m swinging, I see that line the entire time–not fixating on it, but continuing to let it guide my swing via the workings of my unconscious mind.

Believe in it, give yourself up to it. As they say, give up control to get control.

Three Ways to Hit Better Golf Shots Without Practicing

Do you want to hit better shots without practicing? Well, maybe one small bucket of balls. Here are three things you can do that are guaranteed to improve your ball-striking in just minutes. Promise.

1. Slow down your swing. When you swing too fast and don’t give yourself a snowball’s chance in H-E-double hockey sticks to strike the ball on the center of the clubface. With your small bucket of balls, slow down your swing until you do. Then speed up gradually until you don’t. Then slow back down again until you do and resolve never to swing faster than that.

Slow.

Down.

If you aren’t hitting well on the course, try slowing down. Many times it’s the quickest fix there is.

2. Put the ball farther back in your stance. Maybe just a half inch. Many golfers play it too far forward because it feels powerful to be cranking into the ball from behind. Ease the ball back until you start making real good contact (you will). Then believe it and keep it there.

3. Aim yourself.

Aim, unfortunately, is not something you can learn once and you have it forever. It takes constant renewal. Go through this process before you hit practice balls at the range or at the course. Every time.

Aim Your Golf Swing

I’ve written a few times in the past about aiming your shot when you take your stance. What I want to talk about in this post is aiming your swing, and that’s different.

You’ve likely heard about swing plane and all that. What I’m going to get at here is where that plane is aimed. Your swing traces an arc going back and another one going through the ball. That second arc is relevant to aim, and to hit the ball at your target, that arc must be aimed at the target.

In one meaning of the word “swing,” the golf swing is the totality of movement away from the ball and back through, all the way to the finish. Another meaning is that something literally swings. What swings in the golf swing are the arms and golf club. The body doesn’t swing. It turns.

From the shoulders on down to the clubhead is the part of your body (consider the club to be an extension of your arms for this argument) that swings. What you want is for the swinging of this unit to be headed toward the target at impact. It will not do to imagine a line on the ground and have the clubhead travel along that line. That quickly turns into steering the clubhead, which interrupts the smooth, connected flow of your swing, in both sense of the word.

You must instead think of the entire swinging portion of your body headed for the target, and you must be thinking that long before the arms and club actually arrive at the ball. It is true that they will only be lined up for the briefest moment, but you must start thinking that they are lined up that way just after the club starts down from the top of your backswing. At that point, your hip will be sliding toward the target. Then, when the hips turn, your mind continues to lead toward the target what is coming next, which is your arms and the club. That unit, because of your mind’s direction, swings through the ball straight toward the target. If your grip is one that keeps the clubface square to the club path throughout the swing, the result is a straight shot.*

Now all that has been a complicated description of a rather simple move. But I believe you will find it is true. You will correct a lot of swing problems by aiming your swing in this way. You can learn this movement by making half swings, and gradually moving up to full swings.

* There is also the part about your hands leading the clubhead. If your hands follow the clubhead into the ball, which they do if you persist in trying to hit the ball rather than swinging through it, none of the above is of any use.

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Practice aiming your golf shot

You can hit the best shot ever, but unless you’re aimed where you and the ball to go, it won’t go there. Getting your aim right takes constant practice. Here’s how to do it.

Remember, do this drill every time you go to the range. Proper aim is not something you can learn once and then not worry about again.

This later post goes into a clear explanation of what I mean by the “picture” you see when you are properly aimed.

See my earlier video, on how to aim yourself, in case you have forgotten. This method does not compete with the video above, but compliments it.

Aim Your Golf Swing Intuitively

Something I’m not sure recreational golfers pay enough attention to is aim.* You can’t hit the ball north if you are aimed to the northeast.

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 establishes an aim line.

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 an alignment stick on the ground behind you. When you are aimed to your satisfaction, pull the stick against your heels and step back to check that the stick is parallel left to the 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.

* 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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