Why Alignment is Important for Great Practice

Scott Sackett
Director of Instruction
McCormick Ranch Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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Practice is very important. Sometimes the message of, “golf is played on the course, you need to practice less and play more” drowns out a players sense of what is needed. Getting out and playing is very important because ultimately golf is played on the course. Great practice will keep you more on the golf course and less on the range trying to figure out what to fix.   

Where the club face is pointing at impact gives the properly trained player a lot of valuable information regarding ball flight and impact. When it comes to accurately interpreting ball flight, the foundation for success lies in one’s awareness of where the face is pointed at impact. This can be accomplished through alignment. 

In order to do this correctly, a player needs to be receiving correct information regarding his face angle and starting direction. This can only come from an accurate perception of the target line. If a player’s alignment is off, but his perception of the target is that he is aligned correctly, then all the information he is receiving from his ball flight is coming from a skewed perception of the target to begin with. Oftentimes, the player begins working on something which is counterproductive. 

The one thing I always recommend each of my students to do during practice is to have an alignment rod down on the ground. This is simply to make the sure the player is training their eye to see the target line correctly! I encourage this during short game practice and while working on short putts. You can never get enough of this type of practice. The great thing is, the more you practice with an alignment stick from all distances the greater the chance when you’re on the golf course, you will perceive the target properly and your alignment will be correct. 

Face Angle is primarily responsible for where the golf ball starts after it leaves the club face. If alignment is correct, (assuming center contact), an open face will result in a ball starting right of target and a closed face will result in a ball starting left of target (for a right handed player).  Next time you’re practicing, pay attention to where the ball is starting. It will give you valuable information about where the face is pointed! 

Scott Sackett, GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher since 1999, just voted as one of Golf Digest’s Best Teacher in the State for the fifth year in a row. Also, Director of Instruction at Park Meadows CC in Park City Utah and while in Scottsdale teaches at McCormick Ranch Golf Club. If you would like to reach Scott, contact him through his website at www.scottsackett.com.