We all live in a world where the technology has taken over the game of golf and everyone is looking for the next big, cutting edge device to hit the market to revolutionize the sport. There are plenty of innovative pieces of equipment out there and it gets hard to decide which ones are worth the cost. But the best weapon to have in your arsenal to help with your game is one that might be the most overlooked and it is called the alignment stick.
Most people will spend their money on a club that “helps” you hit the ball straighter or even a elbow brace that reduces flaring the elbow in the backswing. Neither of which actually work. But the alignment stick will aid in helping to put the feet and club face in a better position to hit more accurate golf shots. This is not the most innovative piece of equipment on the marker but it it helpful with hitting shots at the desired target. The best part is that it is so easy to use.
An alignment stick is a 4 foot piece of fiberglass that can be used to not only help with aligning golf shots to the desired targets but can also help change swing planes to hit more effective golf shots. It can even be used to help with a person’s short game. Any one from high school to college and the professional ranks use alignment sticks to elevate their game. By adding this piece of equipment into your game you are assured to save a few shots out on the links.
What is proper alignment in golf?
Having ideal alignment in the game of golf is necessary for hitting the ball to the desired target. Being a chiropractor I can tell you that alignment is everything. Not only for the spine but for our feet and club in order to be in the best position possible. For a proper golf set-up the club face should be facing directly at the target and the feet are lined up parallel to the club face. Deviation of the club face or the feet will result in a poor golf shot.
Bad alignment is often one of the most overlooked aspects of the golf game because everyone wants to assume that they are always lined up correctly for each shot. But just a small deviation in shoulder or hip positioning during the golf stance can alter the alignment. This is where the alignment sticks come into the play to assure that we are always aimed at the target.
How do you use the alignment stick to help with accuracy?
It is a good idea to purchase two alignment sticks to be used on the golf range. Sometimes people think that they hit bad shots to the left or right of their desired target because of the way the golf ball is struck. But often times it is because of poor alignment.
Here is a step-by-step process that I followed when using the alignment sticks to set up my golf shots. Note that it could feel awkward to address the ball during the first few shots because of foot or club alignment. Be sure to practice with the alignment sticks for consistency.
• Select a mid-iron club (6, 7 or 8 iron) and pick a flag on the golf range that suits your distance according to the desired club.
• Place a ball down on the grass the position one alignment next to the ball so that it is aimed directly at your target. Assure that the stick is far enough away from the ball. Otherwise, you will risk striking the stick on your downswing that could damage it.
• Position a second alignment stick parallel to the first so that you can set the target line for your feet. Make sure to address the ball first to that a comfortable distance can be found for a proper golf swing.
• Now that the set-up is complete the golf ball is ready to be struck. Step up to the ball and position your feet and club according to the alignment sticks. There will be temptation to change the address or club because it could feel “off” but trust the sticks. Hit a few balls and watch there they land.
• Make any minor adjustments to the sticks according to the ball flight. If a draw shot is taking shape (where the ball goes from right to left) then move the sticks more to the right of the target. If a fade (where the ball goes from left to right) is occurring then position the sticks more to the left of the target. Do not make these changes in the alignment sticks for a pull or push of the golf swing.
How effective are alignment sticks with the short game?
The short game is imperative when it comes to lower scores in golf. Putting and chipping should be practiced twice as much as the long game where the majority of weekend golfers spend their time whacking balls on the range. The alignment sticks are used in the same way on the range as they are on the practice green. One stick aligns the club face to the target and the other is parallel and aligns the feet. Simply trust the sticks and hit your chip shots.
The set up on the practice green for putting is a little different. Most golfers who miss short or long putts are pulling or pushing the putter away from the desired swing plane. The best way to use the alignment sticks for putting is to address the ball and place one alignment one half inch from the outside of the putter head on the other on the inside. Be sure that the sticks are aligned at the proper target to make a good putt. Follow the putter back and keep the head of the club between the alignment sticks. Any deviation over the top of either stick will result in a poor putt.
I believe that the alignment sticks can be great tools to add to your complete golf game. If the alignment sticks are not helping with hitting desired target lines then ask for the assistance from a golf professional to help with swing mechanics. Sometimes there can be problems with the golf stance or hip and shoulder biomechanics that need to be fixed. Be sure to consult a chiropractor to help with poor functioning of the pelvis/lower back or upper back/shoulders that can hinder proper mobility. Best of luck and keep it in the short grass.
Dr. Brandon Siegmund was born and raised outside of Fort Worth. After he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, Dr. Siegmund performed clinical research at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Click Here To Read Full Bio