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Golf Instruction Article
On alignment and getting lined up properly to your target

Using an Intermediate Target


Disregarding open or closed stances for special reasons, alignment is very simple: the body is aligned parallel to the target line and the club's face is aligned perpendicular to the target line. The simplest way of visualizing the body being parallel to the target line is the commonly used image of railroad tracks, with the feet on one track and the ball/club head on the other. Seeing the leading edge, or blade, of the club perpendicular, or square, with the target line is even easier - or should be.

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The problem for many people arises when trying to see this type of alignment on the golf course. Enter the humble intermediate target. Such a little thing can make such a big difference. An intermediate target is a real or imagined point on the target line between the ball and the target. For example, a twig, pebble, discolored blade of grass or leaf a foot or two in front of your ball could be an excellent intermediate target.

Improving your alignment on the golf course can be accomplished by following two steps: practicing on the driving range with alignment aids and using an intermediate target to establish your alignment when you play.

It is against the rules to use an artificial alignment aid, or to place or move anything natural as an alignment aid, during a round of golf. But one should definitely practice with alignment aids. Something as simple as another club lying on the ground next to where you're hitting balls with the shaft aligned at the target works wonderfully. Even driving range mats with straight edges can be enough. The whole point of this is to get used to seeing and feeling oneself in a square position. Practicing with an alignment aid will train the nervous system to see and feel square.

The purpose of an intermediate target is to visually establish a line (the target line). Once you have a line you can then see (especially after the training mentioned above) a relationship of either parallel or perpendicular to that line. Although it is against the rules to place or move an object for use as an alignment aid there are countless objects occurring naturally on the ground in front of your ball that can be used as intermediate targets. It doesn't even necessarily need to be an object directly ON the target line. Something near the target line can be used as a reference point to the target line (e.g. the edge of a divot just to the right of the target line would make it easy to see where the target line was and then square-up to it).

Intermediate Target

Okay, so you find a point in front of you, on or as a reference to, the target line. Now that you can "see" that line you should easily be able to position your club face square to the line and your body (feet, knees, hips, shoulders) parallel to it. Voila, instant alignment! It's like having graph paper on the ground.

I prefer to locate a point very close to the ball, say within two feet. Some players like to find a spot farther away (this does not work for me; perhaps their vision is better than mine or they have a better natural sense of alignment). I have also heard that some players select more than one intermediate target. That is way too complicated for me; perhaps their brains are more complex than mine. One point between the ball and the target is all it takes to establish the line, but if you feel you need something more elaborate you're welcome to make things more difficult by adding variables. smile

Practice with an alignment aid of some kind and start using an intermediate target to line up all your shots. You won't have alignment problems any more.

It's like having graph paper on the ground

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