The Importance of Proper Alignment, Part 1.


We all know that alignment on every shot is important, but how important is it? According to PGA Master Teaching Professional Don Trahan as many as 90% of all swing issues are caused by poor alignment. If your actual alignment does not match your intended direction then one of two things will happen. In some cases you will hit a good solid shot to the wrong spot. Then you start trying to troubleshoot a swing problem that really doesn't exist. For example you may try to fix a 'push' by changing the way you swing the club when in fact the swing is great and you just hit it too the wrong spot. The other possible problem is that your mind sub consciously recognizes the problem and adjusts the swing to try and hit to the the intended target. If you aimed right you may end over rotate the body and arms to get the ball to go left. This all leads to never ending attempts to fix a problem.


The Importance of Proper Alignment, Part II.

We all know that alignment on every shot is important, but how important is it?The general answer is very important.If you don't send the ball on the correct line it will not end up where you intend it to go.Let's look at full shots. In the diagram below I am hitting from the circle labelled John.Point C is my target and point A is where I actually hit it.For every degree (D) that I am offline the ball will be about 1.75% of the distance A from the target.So on a 100 yard shot to a target that is 100 yards away the ball will end up 5.25 feet away.If the direction is off by 4 degrees then the distance away from the target will be 21 feet.In this first example we happened to have hit the ball exactly the right distance. Since that rarely happens lets see how the alignment issue affects long and short shots. If you hit it 90 or 110 yards instead of 100 and 1 degree offline then the ball will be 10.136 yards away. A 90 yard shot that is 4 degrees offline will end up 12 yards away. So on short and long shorts the impact is not as high as on shots of the correct distance but it still puts you further away. You will have a 36 foot putt instead of a 30 footer, or you may be in a bunker instead of putting.

The math is the same for putting as well. However in putting you have a target that is not a point but a slot because the hole is wider than the ball. The ball does not have to be perfectly in the middle of the hole to fall in. Ignoring speed as a variable you have about 1.5 inches of leeway on your direction So on an eight foot(about 100 inches) putt if you line up 1 degree offline the putt will miss going into the hole by .25 of an inch.

While distance control is very important don't overlook the value of starting the ball online. You have full control over where you aim so make sure that you do it well. The shot may not be executed exactly as planned or you may have miscalculated factors such as break or elevation change but at least you will have started the ball where you intended to.


Just Do It Right

One of the problems that plagues many golfers is the way they handle poor shots. Hit a couple of hooks and the rest of the day is spent trying to figure out what went wrong and how to "fix" it. The problem is that for every bad shot there could be many possible errors. It is like looking at a tree and picking out the one leaf that caused the problem this time. If you are lucky you may find the right leaf but try to correct the wrong problem and you can make it worse.
A better method is to go back to basics and just do it right. Concentrate on the proper setup and try to execute the swing properly. Take an attitude that it doesn't matter what went wrong just do the next one correctly. This will give you a positive frame of mind and will lead to more success.