This past week we received a number of calls at the United States Golf Academy looking for help on aim and alignment. It might surprise you to learn that each conversation was completely different. Aiming and then putting your body in the proper alignment is much more complicated than the point and shoot method used by most golfers.
The first thing to do is select your target. For most of us the problem starts right here. It isn’t that we are poor aimers; we aim correctly, but often at the wrong target. Depending on your skill level, the target might not be the obvious middle of the fairway or the flag on the green. A good rule of thumb is to aim to the place you have a reasonable chance of reaching and will give you a fair chance to reach the next target.
As far as the logistics of aiming, remember that we aim the golf club and align our bodies based on where the club is pointed. The ball is going to start where the clubface is pointed at impact, not necessarily where we are aligned. So it is much more effective to aim the clubface rather than trying to aim our body. We also have to realize that aim is a visual exercise and we all make visual observations differently. Just ask the next ten house guests to help you straighten a picture on the wall. You will get ten different opinions.
It is a great help to understand that each of us has a dominant eye we use in the aiming and aligning process. Finding your dominant eye is easy. Make a small circle with your index finger and thumb. Hold the circle up and focus on an object within the circle. Close one eye. If the object is still in the circle your open eye is your dominant eye. If the object has moved out of the circle, your dominant eye is the closed eye.
The only accurate way to see the relationship of the ball, the club and the target is from behind the ball looking down an imaginary line with your dominant eye, the ball and the target, all on the same line. This is the only way to get an accurate picture. Trying to aim from the side is impossible, but even if you are behind the ball looking toward the chosen target, if your dominant eye is not on line with the ball and target, the picture will be skewed.
The final tip is to remember the imaginary line you have chosen is for the golf club and not your body. Your body must be aligned parallel to this line and perpendicular to the bottom edge of the club, not pointed at the chosen target.