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.