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Fix your Target - Correct your Alignment
by Andrew Park

Confirm Alignment, and learn to release the ball on target.

Parallel relationship between your body and ball-to-target-line enables you to swing freely through impact.

One of the many practice disciplines we impress upon students here at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy is the importance of always creating and working within a defined practice station.

All it takes is a few seconds to lay a couple of clubs down on the ground (or brightly coloured gardening canes, as I have here) to give yourself a set of 'railway tracks’ that confirm square alignment - that of both your body and the clubface.

Aiming the body down the line to the target (inset above left) is a common fault, and one that demands a succession of compensations within the swing to get the ball started on line.

If you feel 'blocked’, or in your own way in the downswing, almost as though you have to pull the ball back on line, it could well be that you are aiming your feet, hips and shoulders at the target itself, which sets your entire swing right of where you want to go.

The drill you see here will quickly eliminate that fault and help you to identify and engage with your target line much more readily and naturally.

All it requires is that you lay down two railway tracks, one just outside the ball, the other to correspond with your feet, the important bit being that both are parallel with your ball-to-target line.

Once you have done that, add a third cane - angled into the ground in the direction of the shot - on a line that corresponds with the mid-point between those railway tracks.

To reap the full benefit of this type of drill, I recommend going through your pre-shot routine on every shot.

Start behind the ball, get a fix on your target, and then walk in and aim the leading edge of the clubface down your target line. Take care to make sure your feet, hips and shoulders are parallel with that inner track as you complete your set up and posture, and bingo, you are ready to hit the shot.

As long as you trust your alignment you don’t have to think about anything other than making a fluent swing - and enjoy starting the ball on the perfect line.

Short game fun that will improve feel, control

'Stagger drill’ improves your ability to see - and then feel - distance to flag

The short game range here at Champions’ Gate is where the tour players and top amateurs who visit tend to spend a lot of time. With a dozen or so small bunkers - each one 8 feet in diameter - positioned at distances between 40 and 90 yards, it makes for a great test of distance control in the wedge game. Most practice areas don’t have this facility, but that needn't stop you working on this element of the short game; all you need is one target and a handful of balls, and you can create a fun practice drill that will sharpen up your ability to gauge distance, and to then visualise and feel the pitch shot required to land the ball that exact yardage. Having laid out a line of balls extending away from your target, leaving a gap of around a yard between each, the idea of this exercise is to start with the ball closest ball in and work your way out, aiming to land each one in your target area. Obviously there’s a great potential for competition here, and a friendly wager with a practice partner will always sharpen up your attitude and execution of these shots.

As far as technique goes, keep things simple.Work on a basic back and through motion, keeping the hands out of the stroke as far as possible. The line of balls extending behind you will create a good visual that helps you to recognise the correct inside-to-square-to-inside swing path, and that’s about as complicated as I would make it. These shots are all about clubface and speed control, and you will always make the most accurate swings when you repeat a consistent, 'syrupy’, almost lazy rhythm.

 

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