How Do You Aim in Golf Correctly?
The way to aim in golf correctly is to ensure that your heels, kness, hips, shoulders and eye line are all square to the target you’re aiming at. Many people think the clubface has to be square too, yet this is not so as it depends on the type of shot you are making.
The biggest mistake that the average golfer makes when aiming in golf, is not knowing they’re doing it wrong. In today’s article I will share with you a guaranteed way to aim correctly in golf, whilst explaining why this process works.
Golf is all about aiming correctly
Golf is a target orientated sport. From tee to green your target is a point on the fairway, an area of the green and then a line to enable the ball to roll into the hole. The point is that just like any other target based sport, aiming correctly in golf is essential to your success.
For example: When aiming at a target 150 yards away. If you’re just 4 degrees to the left or right, you will miss the target by as much as 32 feet. That’s before combining it with wind and mi-hits etc. All of which is backed up by launch monitor manufacturers, insisting alignment sticks are used during data capture.
Oddly enough many golders don’t see the importance of this part of the game. As such, they never practice aiming correctly at the target. Something I hinted at in my article ‘How to practice more effectively in golf’.
If you watch and pay attention to other golfers, you will be sure to see most of them simply wander up to the ball and let it rip. Then as it sails into the rough, they stand there in either utter bewilderment, swearing or more than often both!
When you’ve hit the perfect golf shot in the wrong direction, it’s actually a bad shot. That’s why having the correct aim in golf is the most important aspect of the game. Get it wrong and as I mentioned above, you will struggle from off the Tee box, into the greens and when putting.
But don’t worry. Learning how to aim correctly in golf is one of the easiest things to do. And it’s the best way to improve your game from tee to green. So let’s get started and go through how to do it.
The process of aiming correctly in golf
As a beginner I fixated on the club face being square to the target line. After all, I was always trying to hit a straight shot. However in my article ‘Ball Flight Laws’ I went through why trying to hit a straight shot in golf is the hardest thing to do.
So firstly it is important to understand that the club face and the body do not need to be square to one another for you to aim correctly. They are different. You swing around your body, NOT your club face. And your clubface can be either open or closed to the arc of your swing. For these reasons we will look at the body alignment first.
How to aim the body correctly in golf
Aiming the body in golf all starts with the feet. As your knees, hips and shoulders all align parallel to them, getting the position of your feet right, will give you the very best chance of setting up the rest of your body correctly.
Let me ask you this. If you wanted to be able to rotate your hips more within the golf swing, you would flare out your feet right? This leads to the first mistake that most golfers make. When aiming, they align their feet using the toes.
As an exercise, place a club or an alignment rod on the ground to represent the Target Line. Now address an imaginary ball. Once you are lined up, place another 2 clubs on the ground. One along your toes, and another along the back of your heels.
What you will most likely discover is the two clubs aligned along your toes and heels, are not parallel to each other. You will most likely see the line of the heels pointing right of the target. This error means that you are always aiming closed to the target.
As your brain is a clever muscle and works out how to get the club face to the ball along the target line. As you’re aligned closed to the target, your brain makes you swing from the outside-in.
Your brain also knows how to get the club face square to the target line. So now you’re swinging with an outside-in path and with an open club face. These are great conditions for a fade or slice.
This popular mistake with the feet is a huge reason why the most shape with golfers is a slice or fade. Now I know that’s a sweeping statement, but the error in peoples swings happen far earlier than at the moment the club hits the ball.
How do I aim the feet correctly in golf?
When on the driving range you should always use a practice station to help you aim correctly. In another article I covered this in great detail. You can read that here.
Once you have set up a target line, address the ball and then lay 2 clubs or alignment sticks, along your toes and heels. Keep doing this until you get your feet in the proper position with your heels aiming parallel to the target line.
You may find at first, that you’re hitting the balls to the left of the target you’re aiming at. This is common and as you practice, you will automatically adjust.
Aiming your hips and shoulders correctly in golf
Once you have started aiming your feet correctly in golf, the hips and shoulders will be much easier to check.
If you have , because of your feet, been used to aiming to the right of your target. You will now find that your hips and shoulders are too open in your new setup.
A simple drill before each swing can correct this. Once you are set up, take your club and align it along your hips. Eye down the line of the shaft and you should be able to tell if your hips are aiming left or right. Make the adjustment and take your swing.
This drill can also be done at home. All you need is your clubs or alignment sticks and a target to aim at. I tend to use the full length of my driveway, when doing these dry drills.
The exact same process can be used for checking your shoulder aim in your golf swing.
How to aim the club face
Now you have the body aligned correctly, you need to understand how to aim the club face. I have covered this in great detail with the article here. Once you have understood how the club face controls the ball direction, you will be able to choose how to aim your club face for the shot you need.
Also understanding the shot you are trying to make, will help you know where to aim on the golf ball.
Building a pre-shot routine to help you aim in golf correctly.
The importance of having a pre-shot routine cannot be highlighted enough. Having a pre-shot routine is not just for professional golfers. In fact, club golfers should have one as it is the routine that makes a golfer better. Not a good golfer that needs a pre-shot routine. If that makes sense…
So follow these simple steps to building your pre-shot routine, and amend or add to it as you grow and become better at golf.
- Choose your shot
Every player has a standard shot shape. As a beginner or high handicappers, it may well be a slice or hook. For others it may be a subtle fade or draw and then there are other golfers with a tendency for playing straight shots.
If you are not able to shape your shots yet, then learn how here.
Before picking a target you need to decide what shape shot you want to play. A dog leg left may require a ‘Draw’ which starts off the right hand side of the fairway and curls into the centre. On a straight hole, you may need to play a ‘Fade’ that starts at a fairway bunker.
Whatever you decide, making this decision is key to selecting the right target to aim at in the next step.
- Pick your target
One of the biggest mistakes I see on the course, is a player standing on the tee and not picking an intended target. They simply hope for the fairway. This is setting themselves up for failure before they have even addressed the ball.
In professional shooting there is a saying, “Aim small, miss small”. It simply means that if you aim for a barn, you may miss the barn. Yet when aiming for the door, you may indeed miss the door, but most likely still hit the barn.
So when you’re searching for a target, pick a specific spot on the fairway, or green. Making your mind concentrate on hitting this small target will help give you focus. Trust me it works!
- Pick your intermediate target
Well done you now have your target to aim at. But before walking up and hitting the ball, take a lesson from the professionals.
Most professional golfers will pick an intermediate target that they can use to line up their shot. It helps them get a visual reference for their target line.
This intermediate target is usually just a few inches or feet in front of the ball, and it is located directly on the line between your ball and the selected target.
The reason behind picking an intermediate target is simple. Instead of trying to aim at something hundreds of yards away. You use the intermediate target to create a visual line between it and your ball.
As long as you are aimed accurately with your intermediate target, you can be confident you’re aiming correctly at the actual target.
What should you pick as an intermediate target? Absolutely anything. A discoloured piece of grass. A small clump of clover or an acorn or pine cone. Anything that won’t blow away as you address the ball will do to get you in the right position.
- How to address the ball correctly in golf
Always club head first, then your feet. It’s called “stepping into the shot”.
A big mistake I’ve witnessed on the course is where players set themselves up before placing the club behind the ball. Then they adjust themselves because they are either too close or too far away from the ball.
By doing this, not only are they aligned incorrectly most of the time, but by moving once they have addressed the ball, they are in a different position than when they started. They have no hope in hell of getting the outcome they desire.
This is why it is always imperative that you place the club head behind the ball first. Align it with your intermediate target and then once you’re happy, you can start to move your feet into position.
Starting with your trail foot – That’s the right foot for a right handed player, and the left foot for the left handed player – place it in the position of your address for the club you’re using. This should come naturally to you and not need too much thought.
Now step into the address position with your lead foot. This is where your hours on the practice range, getting your heels aligned, will pay dividends.
By using this method or addressing the ball. You should always be at the right distance from your ball with the club you’re using. You won’t have to shuffle about and you can be confident that you’re aiming at your target.
If you feel uncomfortable during this process. Step back entirely and start again. Eye your target. Pick out your intermediate target. Place the club behind the ball and step into the address position.
All that is left now is a quick glance to the target ahead. And send the ball down range!
How to aim in golf – The conclusion
How to aim correctly in golf is not a natural process. Golf is the only ball sport where the ball is placed in front of the player and the player is perpendicular to the target. This makes the sport difficult enough before you start adding in hazzards and the size of the course you play on.
To get your aim in golf right, you have to practice it and practice it correctly. Whilst at the driving range use a golf practice station. Pick targets out so you can get feedback on your aiming.
Use alignment sticks to ensure that your body is aimed correctly and so you know what that feels like.
A game of golf lasts 4 hours or so. But the sport of golf is a lifetime learned. So make sure that you’re learning the sport in the best way possible.
I sincerely hope that the information in this article has helped you as much as it helped me. This way of aiming in golf allowed me to start my journey to achieving a single figure handicap. I hope it does the same for you. If so please share and help others.