Aim and Alignment – the Final Component to a Good Setup

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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Two months ago, I walked you through the correct grip and its influence to ball flight.  Last month, I discussed the importance of achieving correct posture and how it influences your body’s ability to turn efficiently. This month, I will discuss how to aim the face correctly towards your intended target line and how to then align your body to that target line.

We now know with the advancements in technology that the club face dictates where the ball starts. If the face at impact is open to your intended target line (see picture) the ball will start to the right and vice versa with a closed face. At setup, try to achieve a clubface that is relatively square to your intended target line (see picture). This will give you the best chance, if you return it relatively square, of starting the ball towards the target.

The next piece is aligning the body parallel to the intended target line. This can be confusing but the concept is very simple. Imagine a set of railroad tracks. If the track to the right (for a right handed golfer) is the target line, (a line that extends from the ball to the target), the inside or left track would represent us or the body.  More specifically, I am referring to the feet, knees, hips, arms, shoulders and even the eyes. This body alignment is called a “square” position. Square is good if attempting to hit a shot with minimal curve.

At the TOUR Academy, we like to teach skill acquisition out of a “block setting.” This simply means that the environment is controlled. Take a look at the 3 club hitting station pictured below. This not only allows for a square stance at address, but the correct ball position. When playing a SW, PW, 9 and 8 iron, the preferred ball position should be center of stance. When playing a 7, 6 and 5 iron, we recommend playing the ball slightly forward or in front of ball #2; for long irons, fairway metals and hybrids, a little more forward or off ball #3. Finally the driver should be played off ball #4. 

Practicing out of a blocked setting such as the 3 club hitting station will really allow for great setup characteristics from a ball position and alignment standpoint.

So, that about covers it. The last three columns have been about GPA- Grip, Posture and Alignment. I want you to improve your golf GPA in 2013. With a higher golf GPA, you will shoot lower scores guaranteed!!

John Stahlschmidt is the Senior Head Instructor for the TOUR Academy TPC Scottsdale. John is also ranked by Golf Tips Magazine as one of the “top 25” instructors in the nation. To contact John for a lesson or to comment on this tip, email johnst