Greener BeeGreen TipsTee-to-Green: Are you aiming your golf shots correctly?

This week the golf tips series, Tee-to-Green, focuses on the setup, direction, and aiming of your golf shots.

Golf Tips, Tee-to-Green is my weekly Friday golf tips column that will zero in on one aspect of the game and help you trim a few strokes off your card. If you missed last week’s installment, Tee-to-Green: A putting technique that actually works, I recommend checking it out. This week I’m focusing getting you, the golfer, to better direct and aim your shots, no matter where you are on the course.

If you don’t align yourself, direct your shots, or aim correctly what good is your golf game?  You can hit the ball flush every single time, but if you are going about aiming incorrectly, it won’t matter.  Whether your golf handicap is a 20 or a 2, you’ll be able to use the following tip to take control, or simply improve your aiming of each golf ball you hit.

Start with alignment

First and foremost, alignment is crucial. Though this is not the tip I want to get into, it is just as important.  When standing over the ball, you’ll want to make sure your feet and shoulders are parallel to the line in which you are planning on aiming.  DO NOT make the mistake many golfers make.  Your feet and shoulders should technically be aiming just to the left (as a right-handed golfer) or right (as a left-handed golfer) of your targeted line.

This is a fairly important directional adjustment many golfers don’t take into consideration. Remember, the ball is couple feet from your body. And believe it or not, that can make a difference.

To check your alignment, simply take a straight object (preferably an alignment stick or a golf club) and place it horizontally, touching your toes.  I would be less concerned about your shoulders, however if you please you can do the same for your shoulders.  Another add-in to consider is to make sure the head of your golf club is square. Though this can depend on the individual, it is still something to consider.

Now that your alignment is taken care of, let us talk about the mind.  This is the element that truly makes or breaks a round of golf. That is where this little tip, that I absolutely love, comes into play.  For the sake of explanation, I will refer to hitting an iron into the green.

Golf is a mind game

The common golfer, when taking aim, will choose a spot on the green to hit to.  This is most likely the flagstick. I am not here to tell you that aiming at the flagstick is not the correct line.  What I am here to explain is that aiming at anything with a fixed distance is the incorrect approach to aiming a golf shot.

So say you have a 7-iron to the green and you choose to hit it on the line of the flagstick, the flagstick should not be your point-of-aim.  Why? Well, it is fairly simple.  If you are aiming at the flagstick, you have now picked a distance AND point-of-aim.  You don’t want to clump these two together.  You know the distances of each of your clubs. There is no reason to bring that into play when aiming.  The reason this can so negatively impact your game, is because you are cluttering your mind.

Doing this incorrectly causes the mind to think: “Okay, I am hitting THIS ball, with THIS club, on THAT line, at THAT object, to THAT exact distance.”

Whereas if you aim without a fixed distance in mind, your thoughts get tapered down to: “Okay, I am hitting THAT ball on THAT line.” You already selected the club and the distance prior to the shot. So why think about it again when simply aiming?

Back to that 7-iron into the green . . .  Instead of picking the flagstick as a point-of-aim, pick a tree beyond the green or off in the distance.  For example if I have that 7-iron in my hand, I picked it for a reason. I have about 170 yards into the green.  I will pick something that is beyond the flagstick, say 220 yards, and aim for that and no matter how well I hit that 7-iron it isn’t going 220 yards. It is simply going to travel on that line.

Bring body and mind into coordination

The overall takeaway with this tip is to rid the mind of overflowing thoughts.  Golf is tough enough on the mind as it is.  By telling yourself, “Okay, I am hitting THIS ball, with THIS club, on THAT line, at THAT object, to THAT exact distance” you are restricting yourself.

The body is one with the mind.  The more you think, the more your muscles tense up, and the margin for error increases.  However, if you ease your mind with “Okay, I am hitting THAT ball on THAT line” and letting the club handle the distance, you can focus on what is actually important.

The subconscious is a funny thing, and it definitely plays a role in planning and executing a golf shot, any golf shot, every golf shot. Try this out.  It is something that has helped me plenty.  I no longer worry about distance AND aim.  I can now ease my mind, separate the two, and think about distance (via club selection) THEN aim.


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Hope you enjoyed this installment of my golf tips series “Tee-to-Green.”  If you have any requests for upcoming weeks, feel free to let me know! And remember, “The road to success is always under construction.” – Arnold Palmer

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