Check out these training drills that you can use with alignment sticks to improve your game and make your golfing even more successful and enjoyable.
Alignment sticks have become a common tool for practicing on the golf course. These thin rods are ideal for ensuring that your club and body positions are perfectly in tune with the golf course, and the direction and speed of your ball’s flight.
For a long time, golfers simply used a couple of spare clubs as alignment sticks. But as new techniques were developed, dedicated sticks that could be used in upright and angled positions came onto the market.
These days, most golfers have a set of alignment sticks in their golf bag for use whenever they need to check or improve their skills.
Let’s take a look at five drills that you can use with alignment sticks to not only build a good game but to maintain it.
Get it Straight
Place one of your alignment sticks in front of the ball and one behind. Both sticks should be pointing down the fairway in the exact direction you want the ball to travel. Leave a gap between the sticks and the ball to allow for your club to swing through without hitting the sticks.
A Clear Target Line
The mistake many golfers make is that they aim their bodies at the ball, rather than aiming their club at the ball. This means that they will not hit the ball squarely and slice or hook the shot. Good golfers, in fact, aim their club, not their bodies. Alignment sticks make it much easier to position your club exactly at right angles to the ball.
Position your club beside the ball then look up and along the line of the front alignment stick. This will help you to train your eye to look in exactly the right direction.
Shooting the Alley
Instead of placing the rods in front of and behind the ball, place them both in front of the ball about 300mm apart, and pointing directly down the fairway.
Down the Alleyway
Jack Niklas used this technique a lot. He would pick a spot on the ground in front of the ball and aim at it with his club as he drove. Alignment sticks will help you to develop this same technique.
This drill will help you to drive more effectively because it positions your focus ahead of the golf ball and forces you to be more in tune with where the ball will be going.
Step in With Your Trail Foot
When you step up to the ball, place your trail foot (right foot for right- handed players; left for for left-handed players) first. This will ensure that you have a clear line of sight down the fairway as you prepare your shot.
The correct procedure is this: trail foot first, then line the club up, then bring your back foot into position.
Once you are in the correct position you can begin to hit balls, aiming to slot them right down the middle of your alignment sticks.
Takeaways to Takeaway
Your takeaway is the angle at which you position your club. This next alignment stick drill will help you to perfect your takeaway.
At an Angle
Place an alignment stick into the ground at an angle between the ball and your hip. Place a second rod on the ground pointing down the fairway. Now, place a ball on the outside of the stick on the ground and practice swinging at it. This will help get to realign your muscle memory if you tend to swing with the club too steeply.
If on the other hand, you hold your club at an angle that is too shallow, position the ball on the inside of the alignment stick. This will increase the angle at which you hold your club.
If your arms are too high, you will have problems keeping your club at the correct angle. Work on your hip pivot to keep your arms lower. This will help to keep your club at the correct angle to the ball and match it up with the alignment stick you have placed at an angle.
A vital part of a good golf swing is being able to keep parts of your body still while you drive. This alignment stick drill will help you to do this.
The Error of Parallax
When you are preparing to swing and hit the golf ball, your eyes need to be looking directly along the line of the club. If your sight line is slightly to the left or to the right, you will be looking at the ball from a slight angle. This is called the Error of Parallax.
The first thing a carpentry apprentice learns is “three-one-one grip and eyes above your work.” This ensures that they are holding their tool (especially a saw) correctly, and that they are positioned over the job properly.
An alignment stick placed at an angle from the ball to your midriff with help in exactly the same way. It will enable you to train your eyes and your muscles to position EXACTLY over the ball.
What happens after you hit the ball is just as important as the wind up and the strike. The alignment stick placed at an angle over the ball will help you to keep your line after the ball has left the tee and is sailing down the fairway.
This “follow-through” is one of the most critical parts of a golfer's swing and creates a fluid set of movements: from initial approach right through to stepping back from the tee after the shot.
Pitches and Chips
By the way, this angled alignment stick technique is also great for practicing your short game shots. It allows you to focus on the position of your club and not on the place where the ball is going to go. You can create an imaginary “strike zone” in your mind where all other distractions are shut out and all there is in front of you is your club and the alignment stick.
This One’s From the Hip
Hip swing and backwards movement can drastically affect your game. While there is a certain amount of hip movement in a successful drive, if it gets too big, you end up losing control of the swing. This alignment stick drill will help you to control your hip movements.
Trail Foot Alignment
Place an alignment stick at an angle from your trail foot up to your hip. Place the ankle of your trail foot against the base of the alignment stick and assume your swing position, with your club at its perfect takeaway and your eyes over the ball.
Pivot Your Hips
As you bring your club back and up for the swing, your hips should pivot smoothly without changing their lateral position. If your hip touches the alignment rod during this movement, you are putting too much sideways force into your pivot.
Don’t Bump it Stick
This drill is helpful because it lets you train the muscles in your hips without trying to do anything artificial with your trail foot, such as placing a golf ball under it (a common trick to improve a golfer's pivot).
Using an alignment stick lets you practice moving your glute back and around rather than swinging it sideways and back. Ideally, you should see a slight increase in the distance between your hip and the alignment stick rather than moving closer to it. If you actually bump the alignment stick, it means that you have way too much lateral movement during your pivot.
Don’t Get Too Far Away Either
If you find that your hip is moving too far away from the alignment stick, you will need to make your pivot a little steeper by leaning over more. A flat pivot will move your hips too far in the direction of the swing so you need to practice to find a happy medium in between.
Give it Some Stick
Alignment sticks are a great way to practice your stance and perfect your shots. As well as the drills we have covered here, there are lots of other combinations that you can use. Come up with some drills of your own. It will improve your game, make it more fun and help you to get your golf swing into perfect alignment.