Alignment Sticks (PART 1)
Have you seen other golfers carrying around these 4-foot long, very thin, brightly colored fiberglass
sticks? These are alignment sticks, and they are extremely popular with high school, college and tour players,
and now also amateur golfers.
Beyond alignment, these sticks can be utilized in dozens of ways to help you improve your swing.
Use your imagination and no doubt you could find dozens of uses for this sleek training aid. I can tell you that
if you are looking for a versatile training aid that is both inexpensive and effective, the alignment sticks are
what you’re looking for. This particular aid is more cost effective than lessons and makes practicing more
productive. Depending upon how the sticks are used, they can provide restriction and immediate feedback.
What’s even better is that they can be used on the range, the course or in the backyard.
Drill #1 – Basic Alignment
Without practicing alignment, it’s difficult to execute good alignment. So here is
how you practice it.
As pictured at right, line up two parallel sticks on the ground about 2-3 feet apart,
much like rail road tracks. Your body should be parallel with the left stick, whereas
the outside stick represents the target/ball flight line.
Place a ball in the center of the two sticks and hit a couple of shots. Look closely
at the divots because if you’re aligned correctly, but you still miss your target, an
outside-in or inside-out golf swing is to blame.
Drill #2 – Backswing Plane
If you are one who has a tendency to be flat or laid off in the backswing, you’ll want to try this
drill. There is no doubt it will help you find the correct swing plane.
Place an alignment stick in the ground (insert 6 inches or more) at approximately a 70* angle.
The angle of the alignment stick will depend upon the club and the golfer.
First, make some compact practice swings at a controlled pace. The objective is to get the
club head just outside or even with your hands at point (1). At the half-way point try to get the
shaft in your hands to point towards the ball flight line without interfering with the (swing plane) alignment stick.
When you get to the point to where you hit balls with this drill, you will feel more upright, on
plane and notice divots that point towards your target.
Drill #3 – Downswing Plane (inside-out)
Like most slicers, you probably have read countless books and experimented with various
training aids, with minimal success. By now you should know the root of your problem is
a swing that moves outside-to-in. What you haven’t tried is something that reinforces an
inside-out swing path.
For this drill, place a stick in the ground pointing towards your intended target (at a
30*-40*angle). Lay a second stick on the ground for alignment purposes (2 feet or more
inside of that). Before you start hitting balls place your club (short iron) below the stick and
make a couple of compact and controlled practice swings. Your takeaway should be visibly
more inside on an arc and your downswing should feel inside out.
Think of the driving range as being a baseball diamond. Your current downswing is outside-in
(out to the left-fielder). This creates a slice with the long clubs and a pull with the short irons.
This drill is going to be the complete opposite from your normal tendencies. In an extreme
case, this swing (inside-out) should create the opposite effect (hook or draw). The occasional push
may occur in your first couple of swings until you develop a rhythm.
Drill #4 – Hip Turn
Do you try to keep your head down and over the ball? If so, it may be robbing you from making
an adequate turn. More importantly golfers who try to keep their head down and over the ball
have a tendency to slide or sway the hips causing a golfer to look and feel more like a teetertotter
than a carousel. If you’re trying to create a better turn or hit the ball farther, this drill is for
Place two sticks in the ground (vertically) just on the outside of your right and left heel. Initiate
the backswing by turning your shoulders and allow your hips to follow. At the top of the swing
your right hip should be within the two sticks. Worst case scenario, your hips will snug up against
the right alignment stick without pushing the stick outwards.
On your downswing, try to initiate the forward swing with your hips. With a good top of the swing position this will be easier to execute. Coming into impact, your hips should be unwinding (clearly ahead of the shoulders). At your finish position, the majority of your weight should be on your left side (left hip snug with alignment stick) without pushing the alignment stick outwards.
Drill #5 – Golf Club Extender
This drill is not intended to hit balls, but is ideal for those looking to fine tune their
Line up one stick on the ground representing the ball flight line. While holding your club, weave an alignment stick between the grip and your hands. The stick should run down the shaft 12 inches. On the flipside, the stick will protrude out of the club and above your left hip just less than three feet. With the alignment stick protruding out make a backswing and try to point the alignment stick in your hands to the stick on the ground (at the halfway point of the backswing). This will give you a good perspective as to whether or not your swing is flat or upright. From there, try to replicate the downswing to the ball and through to the finish.