Golf alignment sticks are one of the most basic golf training aids but are also one of the most versatile tools to help your golf game. And, using golf alignment sticks is easy! The most obvious benefit of a golf alignment stick is it gives you a strong visual reference tool help in many areas of your game, and not just in your set-up although that is the most critical! If you can’t aim correctly it is very difficult to improve your swing and your game.
What Are Golf Alignment Sticks?
Golf alignment sticks come in different forms but at their simplest they are a straight line golf training stick that is typically laid on the ground to help you understand your alignment. Setting up to the golf ball and properly aligning to your target is something that must take place on every golf shot. You don’t have to have the ball striking skills of a tour player to set up and align properly. So that’s where we’ll start.
Alignment Stick Drills
This article covers different tips and drills on how to use a golf alignment stick. Check them out and find what works best for you!
- Train Tracks
- Upper and Lower Body
- Target Line Gate
- Ball Position
- Rotate 90
- Chip Without Flip
- Putting Drills
1. Train Tracks
The Train Tracks drill is the most common way of using golf alignment sticks. Take two alignment sticks and place one pointed at your target. Set up to the shot and place a second alignment stick inside the first so that it runs along the toes of your feet, aka your stance line. Adjust the second stick making sure it is parallel to the first like train tracks. Now, step back and look down the parallel tracks towards your target. The first thing to notice is that the inside alignment stick, the one you stand along, is not pointed at your target. Instead it is pointed slightly to the left of your target if you are a right hand golfer.
Left Pic: target line pointed at metal pole | Right Pic: stance line left of target line
To get used to aiming your feet and stance line slightly left of your target, take your set-up and rotate your head to look down your stance line. Take note that you should be looking just left of your target. Incorporate this process on the golf course. For most shots you want your knees, hips and shoulders to be aligned in the same direction as your feet, this is more challenging than you’d think and we’ll discuss a sure-fire way to make it happen in the next tip.
The outside alignment stick is a great reference for squaring your clubface to your intended line of flight. If you are practicing straight shots, point the outer stick at the target and aim your clubface down this line. If you want to practice hitting a fade or draw, point the outside stick at where you want the flight of the ball to start and aim your clubface at the end target. With practice this will produce the ball flight curve you are looking for.
Many good golfers, including most tour players, use golf training sticks every time they practice. That way they can constantly check and adjust their alignment and can also ingrain the process of setting so that it becomes repeatable on the golf course. Every good golf shot starts with proper alignment so use the Train Tracks drill to help you get it right!
2. Upper and Lower Body
Aligning your feet is important, but it is equally important to get your Upper and Lower Body aligned. We have all played golf with someone that aligns their feet correctly but has their shoulders wide open. This setup will not deliver consistent results and usually results in a slice or poor contact.
An easy way to check your upper body alignment is to place a golf alignment stick along your feet and then hold a club across your arms at chest height, and simply look down. Take your setup position then open and close your shoulders until you see that the club across your chest aligns with the stick at your feet, indicating you are aligned top to bottom. An even better way to do this is to use a Swing Align device. The wearable device has a highly visible alignment rod that runs across your chest giving you instant alignment feedback. The benefit of wearing a Swing Align is that you can go through your setup process, including your waggle, and check your alignment every step of the way unhindered, and then if desired hit the shot. The Swing Align will also show your spine tilt which is a key element of a proper setup.
Swing Align will benefit not only your alignment but also your takeaway, your rotation, and your swing plane. It will hold your arms and body in the proper structure from address to finish. It is the perfect device to practice your entire swing process!
3. Target Line Gate
The next drill is simple and effective and works on both your face and path. Place golf aiming sticks along your target line. Place one about 8” in front of the golf ball, and the other the same distance to the rear of the ball. This provides a strong target oriented visual for your club face and a great reference for your swing path. Club face and swing path control are the biggest differences between tour pros and average golfers. In order to strike it more like a pro, do the following.
First, practice taking the club back to waist height, making sure to keep the clubface pointed down the target line. Too many golfers roll the club open with their wrists and forearms during the takeaway so that the face starts to point away from the target line.
Want to hit it straight, or have a slight draw instead of a dreaded slice? Stop coming over the top and cutting across the ball by swinging the club down so it passes through the Target Line Gate (the opening between the two alignment sticks). Practice delivering the club from the inside of the rear alignment stick, through the gate, and to the outside of the front stick. This is a very powerful visual drill for helping you to swing inside to out. Start with short partial swings working your way up to full swings. Focus on where your clubface points on the way back, and how your club path comes through the gate on the way down.
4. Ball Position
Ball position is critical to solid contact and hitting the ball at your target! You can easily work on both your stance alignment and ball position by using two golf training sticks, or by using a ground alignment device like the Swing Junction found in the Swing Align bundle. For a driver, you’ll get better results if the ball is placed just inside your front foot allowing you to hit slightly up, launching it with more power and accuracy.
For fairways, hybrids and irons, you want to move the ball progressively back in your stance with your wedges being played from near the middle of your stance. Without a golf training stick as a visual reference this is very difficult to do on your own. The most effective way to practice ball position is to have an alignment stick along your feet and one perpendicular to your stance line pointed at the proper ball position for the club you are hitting. Keeping your feet square is essential when moving the ball to different positions in your stance because as you move the ball front to back your perspective of the ball changes, which affects your stance line. Be sure to practice Ball Position with two golf training sticks as often as you can to keep your stance square as well!
5. Rotate 90
Golf alignment sticks are great for aligning and positioning, but they can also help you improve your swing. Rotating to make a full turn is something many golfers struggle with because unless you are filming video or practicing in front of a mirror, it is hard to tell how much your body is rotating. Using an alignment rod placed on the outside edge of your trail foot and perpendicular to your stance line gives you a rotation target and visual feedback for proper turn away from the ball.
To do the Rotate 90 drill, turn your shoulders and chest to where they match up with the alignment stick. If it is difficult for you to rotate to 90 degrees which is generally accepted as a full turn, rotate your trail hip a little more to help create room to turn your upper body away from the ball. Depending on your build and flexibility, some players will turn a little short of 90, and others a little more. The point of the drill is to give you something to help measure your rotation.
Using Swing Align can take your backswing even further as the wearable alignment rod shows not only how much you’ve rotated, but also how you’ve rotated based on the angle of the rod. In order to rotate on the correct swing plane the front of the rod should move down as you start your turn and should be level or pointed down slightly towards the ball at the top of your swing.
6. Chip Without Flip
Golf training sticks can help you chip more consistently. The number one cause of mishit chips, both fat and thin, is from overactive hands, but keeping your hands quiet during your short game is easier said than done. An alignment stick and the Chip Without Flip drill is a great solution and easy to do.
From left to right: how to perform the drill from Set Up to Backswing to Downswing to Follow Through.
Hold an alignment stick along the grip of your favorite chipping club with most of it sticking above the end of the grip and resting on the front side of your upper body. Set up for a chip shot, which typically means a slightly open stance and more weight on your lead side, and make your chipping stroke focused on moving your arms and chest - not your hands. Note: most good chippers don’t overly rotate on the backswing and allow for a slight wrist hinge. When you make your backswing in this drill, notice that the alignment stick you are holding should remain along or just off the front side of your body. The important thing is to keep the stick away from your body on the downstroke and follow through.
If your hands get too active or flip the club forward, the alignment stick you are holding will impact against the side of your body. In order to chip consistently you need to rotate the club through with your arms and chest in sync and your hands quiet. Be sure to rotate your lead hip through impact as this will help facilitate the proper movement of your body and keep the golf alignment stick from contacting your body on the follow through. Try this drill and your chipping stroke, ball contact and distance control around the green will all improve!
6. Putting Drills
Can golf alignment sticks help your putting? Like all other parts of your game the answer is a resounding - yes. Here are a few ways to use them to help you make short putts and improve your distance control on longer putts. Many golf coaches feel these are the two best areas to practice when you work on your putting.
- Take two golf alignment sticks and put them down in parallel, running away from a putting cup or a hole on a putting green, on a short, straight putt 3-5 feet in length. Space the sticks slightly wider than the width of your putter head. Practice hitting straight putts focused on where your putter face is aimed at set up, and delivering your putter face square at impact. Watch your putts roll between the alignment rods and go into the hole. This is great training both physically and mentally as you’ll get the feel for hitting straight putts and watching them go into the hole and you’ll soon forget about being overly technical and just let your natural ability take over.
- To practice distance control, you can take two different approaches. On a 15-20 foot putt, or as long a putt as possible if you are practicing indoors, place an alignment stick about 2ft behind the hole perpendicular to your line. Hit putts hard enough to reach the alignment stick but not jump over it. Alternatively, place the alignment stick in front of the hole and hit putts hard enough for the ball to just climb over the alignment rod. Try both options using your golf alignment sticks and improve one of the most important aspects of putting - distance control.
An alternative to using alignment sticks for putting is the Goal Post device. The goal post provides an exceptional visual aid for aligning your putter face squarely. The device also forces you to square the face at impact and hit the ball in the center otherwise the ball hits the side posts and goes offline. Practicing with a device that gives you instant feedback like this is very effective!
Improve Your Training with Alignment Sticks!
Many golfers buy and use golf Alignment sticks and golf training devices like the Swing Align Bundle that include a ground alignment element. We hope this article will provide you with additional ideas about putting those golf training sticks to good use!