Golf Shoulder Alignment Tips

Golfers of all skill levels struggle with how to line up a golf shot. Proper golf alignment is the first step to executing a great swing, and to hitting a great golf shot. If you set up with the proper golf alignment, particularly your shoulder alignment at address, you’ve set yourself up for success.  If you set up poorly you’ve set yourself up for failure. Devan Bonebrake, top 50 golf instructor and host of the Golf Fix, says his students lose their alignment as much as they lose their swing.  Devan finds that the upper body and shoulder alignment are typically where things go awry. Luckily, with Devan's help, we've put together some golf alignment tips for you.

Golf Set Up

Proper Golf Swing Alignment

All golf swing fundamentals are important. It’s hard to put one above the others, with one key exception - proper golf alignment. Golf alignment is difficult because golfers don’t typically work on their alignment, and because it is nearly impossible to see how you are aligned with any accuracy, particularly if you're practicing alone. From your perspective at address it is hard to see if your shoulder alignment is open or closed relative to your target line (unless you are wearing a Swing Align device). Golf swing alignment is critical because a slight error can put you 10 yards off your mark - even more when hitting a driver. And alignment plays a key role in your short game and putting.  Luckily we have some golf swing alignment tips to help you keep your aim true. 

  1. Stand behind your ball first. Lining up a golf shot from anywhere other than 5 feet behind your ball is going to give you a skewed perspective that will almost always result in misalignment. When you practice always pick a target and trace an imaginary line from the ball to your target. After that set an alignment rod on the ground parallel to your target line - like a railroad track.  Note that the stance line is slightly left of your target line (if you are a right hand golfer).
  2. Set up to the ball and align your club face first. It’s important that your club face points down the target line you set for yourself. Align the leading edge of the club perpendicular to the rod you placed on the ground.
  3. Take your golf stance. Your lower body, or golf stance alignment, should be easy because of that rod you set down for yourself. If you watch good players practice, they almost always use an alignment rod on the ground to help them.  Turn your head to look towards your target remembering that your stance and shoulder line will point slightly to the left of your target (if you are a right hand golfer).
  4. Align your shoulders parallel to the target line. Don't align your shoulders at your target or they will be closed. Align your shoulders slightly left of your target (if you are a right hand golfer). Shoulder alignment is the most difficult but most important part of the golf alignment process. If you are wearing a Swing Align device all you have to do is look down and match the alignment rod across your chest with the alignment rod on the ground. Your hips and knees will follow the line of your shoulders. Take the time to practice and remember what this position looks and feels like. Swing Align develops visual and muscle memory of proper golf alignment in a way that is very easy to understand and repeat and it stay with you out on the course.

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The Results of Poor Alignment

There is a lot you can do to improve your swing these days, but unless you’re aimed at your intended target, no amount of practice or natural talent will bring you success. If you watch tour professionals practice you’ll notice that they’re all committed to lining up their golf shots perfectly, be it through the use of a device, or their coaches and caddies standing behind them. So learn from the best. There’s more to poor golf alignment than just direction. Poor alignment will cost you distance.  It will turn a nice fade into a nasty slice, and it will have you compensating in your swing which will only lead to worse problems. A consistent golf game can only be built on consistent golf alignment, so don't neglect it!

Open Shoulder Alignment

If you start the golf swing with your shoulders open there are several common swing errors that can occur. The first is your shoulders moving out and around instead of down. This causes the club to move away from the ball outside of your target line commonly causing you to slice the ball and lose power.  Starting with your shoulders open will cause a shorter backswing, or a lack of rotation, or for your arms and body to become disconnected as you try to get the club back far enough.

Closed Shoulder Alignment

Starting with your shoulders too closed relative to your target line can cause you to take the club too far inside making you lift the club to the top resulting in a swing that comes over-the-top which producing a pull or in the worst case a pull-slice.  Starting closed also causes a swing that is too long and disconnected, which can result in a loss of power or increased mis-hits. 

Line Up Your Shot Using Swing Align

How can you align more consistently for every golf shot you take? How do you align square to your target?  With a Swing Align! When wearing a Swing Align swing trainer, perfect alignment is a simple matter of looking down.

The alignment rod across your upper body will show you where your body line is pointed, and an alignment rod on the ground will show where your lower body is pointed, match the two and you’re in proper alignment and ready to make a good golf swing.

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Photo of correct body alignment when using the Swing Align golf swing aid

GO: For most shots your body, including your shoulders, arms, hips and knees, should be square to your target line.

Photo of incorrect shoulder alignment when using the Swing Align golf swing aid

NO GO: Your shoulders should not be open or closed relative to your target line. This causes an inside or outside takeaway path.  Note that most golfers misalign their upper body more often than their lower body.

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Fix Your Alignment with Swing Align!

Without someone to point out your upper body alignment for you it is very difficult, if not impossible, to see your own upper body alignment. Because of this, a golf swing aid like Swing Align solves one of the most common problems in golf!

If you’re ready to take your alignment training to the next level, check out our shop!




Back to Instruction

The Swing Align Golf Instruction Blog is a great resource for a variety of golf swing tips and golf drills to help you improve your game. You’ll find lessons on how to hit a draw, how to eliminate a golf slice, golf chipping tips and more! Any golfer will find these golf swing lessons useful, even if you don’t own a Swing Align golf training aid. But if you do own a Swing Align, you’ll learn how to use it to improve key fundamentals including alignment, posture, rotation, swing plane and connection. The red button at the top of the page will take you to the Swing Align YouTube channel where you’ll find even more golf swing instruction.