10 New golf alignment stick uses & drills

Thomas Tanner
Jul 11, 2020
9 minutes
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Train Track Alignment

The most common use for a set of alignment sticks is to help with alignment. Drop an alignment rod just in front of your toes, and one just outside the ball, making sure they're parallel, just like train tracks. With all other thing being equal, this set up should result in a straight shot. Alignment issues are one of the most common faults when golfers head to their pro for a lesson, so this is a great one to check yourself - and it's so simple to fix!

For a more advanced drill, you can alter the toe alignment - open up the angle to practise a fade, and close it down to work on a draw.

Ball Position

Different clubs in your bag require the ball to be in a different position in your stance. Towards the back, to make sure you're hitting down on your irons and wedges, and just inside the front foot for the longer club to help you hit up for optimal launch.

Rotating on of your alignment aids 90-degrees to form a 'T' or crosshair will help give you a visual cue and develop consistency when practising with a particular club. When you remove the rods, you will be able to set the ball up in the same position in your stance each time.

Club Path

We all know the saying, swinging in-to-out, over the top, or out-to-in, but what does it mean, and how can we check it? Take you alignment rods and place them parallel to the target line on the floor either side of the ball, leaving just enough room for the clubhead to sweep through without hitting them.

As you swing any errors will quickly be identified. The inside stick will move if you're swinging in-to-out. The outside, if you're coming over the top or from out-to-in.

Belt Loops

Gray Player will always tell you power comes from the core. To make sure you're building up enough potential energy on your backswing thread an alignment stick through your front belt loops creating an extended line across your hips which will accentuate any backwards rotation.

If the rod is only rotation a little, then you could work on rotating a little more. If the stick is turning, and now pointing more towards the ground, then you've got loads of energy stored up to release through impact for more power and distance.

Chipping Head Movement

Your short game can be one of your greatest weapons or worst enemies. Anything you can do easily to improve will only help in the long run and simply keeping your head still is something we can all achieve.

With one rod to help with alignment, stick the other one in the ground at an angle so you can easily swing beneath it. Then, place the ball under the rod, visually cutting it in half from above. If at any point during your chipping action you can see the whole ball, then you're swaying too much.

This drill can be carried over to the putting green too - but there are mirrors designed to help with this and much more!

Wrist Break

A repeatable chipping stroke is something many amateur golfers strive. However, there are many subtle actions during the action, which make it very difficult to repeat and thus breeds inconsistency around the greens. By minimising any wrist break, you can improve both your strike and distance control.

Take an alignment stick in your top hand and then take your regular grip. The extended line of your club shaft will indicate how much wrist break there is during your action. Work on minimising this and watch your short game improve.

Hit Thorugh Window

Getting the ball staring online is important if you want it to finish where you planned. By creating a window or goal with your alignment sticks 3-5 yards in front of you (either on the ground or vertically) will give you immediate visual feedback if your ball flight is starting on its intended line.

Improve Ball Striking

One of the main difference between amateur golfers and the Tour Pros is their balls striking. The best players in the world hit down with their irons, making contact with the ball before the ground. Amateurs, take both at the same time, and even sometimes the ground before the ball. This results in a huge loss of distance and levels of inconsistency.

To improve your ball striking put an alignment rod a small distance directly behind the ball, leaving just enough room your club to come down on plane and take the ball before the ground. If you do the opposite, you'll notice as there will be an audible and visual cue from the alignment rod moving as you make contact. Start with chip shots and work your way up through the bag.

Swing Plane

You don't need fancy gadgets or technology, or even a video camera to check your swing plane. Take your grip with an alignment rod extending out above your hands, following the line of the shaft. Place another on the ball line, parallel to the target.

As you take the club away, the alignment rod will indicate if you're on place or not. A good swing plane will have the tip of the rod pointing to the ground and dissecting the rod on the floor. If you're too shallow, the rod will not be hitting the floor at all, and if you're too steep, then the rod will be pointing at the ground inside the indicator on the floor. A few short swings will give you an immediate indication of how your swing is tracking.

Load Up

There is a definite shift towards a power game on Tour at the moment! Professionals generate massive amounts of power through 'loading up' on their backswing.

To see how you compare stick an alignment stick vertically in the ground just behind your back hip. As you take the clubs away, you should be rotating your hips inside this guide, rather than swaying into it. If you do this correctly, then the potential energy will be built up, ready to be released on your downswing, generating more power and distance.

You can use this in line with the belt loop drill above for maximum benefit.

Take Away

The first move on your backswing can be the most important as it set you on your way to making a good swing. Small errors here are exaggerated by the time the club returns to the ball for impact.

With one alignment rod across your toes to help with alignment, stick another in the ground on the target line at an angle, leaving enough room for a good take away to pass under it. If you're starting on the outside, you'll make contact with the rod and need to start again.

If you know you take the club away on the inside, bring the rod a little closer to you, so you pass over the top of it, making contact if you're too far on the inside.

Further reading

With more and more of us now spending more and more time at home, there is an increased opportunity to squeeze in some short game or putting practice.

If you cannot wait for the lockdown to end and want to hit the ground running when golf re-opens, it's good to do a little bit of structured practise at home.