Derek Hooper is the Director of Instruction at the Hank Haney Golf Academy at Lake of Isles, Conn. Derek is a AAA member of the Australian PGA, has a college degree in teaching and more than 15 years experience conducting lesson programs in Australia, Japan and Taiwan.
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How my tip will help:
Ball position and alignment, along with grip, have the greatest effect on the direction in which you hit the ball. Thus, if the ball is not going where you intended, these are the areas where you should start correcting that ball flight.
Here's my tip:
Pre-Swing Fundamentals – Ball Position and Alignment
Whenever someone comes for a golf lesson, the first elements we look at are their pre-swing fundamentals. Key components of this are ball position and alignment. I always find it interesting when a player complains that their shots are going straight, but not at their intended target, then questions everything in their swing motion rather than checking the two factors that have the most influence over ball flight direction.
An incorrect ball position can be the cause of a variety of swing faults, contact problems and directional challenges. A ball that is positioned too deep in the stance can lead to a poor transfer of weight to the lead side during the downswing; an early release of the club and thus loss of power; hitting the ground before the ball or topping the ball; and a ball flight that will tend to start right of the target (for a right hand player).
A ball positioned too far forward in the stance, meanwhile, can cause excessive body slide in the downswing; hitting the ground before the ball or topping the ball; and a ball flight that will tend to start left of target.
The correct ball position for all full swings is one clubhead inside your lead foot. This applies to every club except driver, which is played from level with the lead heel. The only thing that will vary from club to club is your stance width. You would have a narrower stance for the shorter clubs and closer to shoulder-width for the longer clubs. From this consistent ball position it is much easier to make consistent contact with the ball, start the ball on your intended target line and move the body athletically through impact producing maximum club speed and thus distance.
Far too often this is overlooked as a cause of poor shot direction. You may have a strong, athletic golf swing but if your alignment is poor, the chances of the ball finishing at your target are very low.
In a correctly aligned set up, you should have your feet, knees, hips and shoulders all parallel to your target line. The easiest way to ensure this happens on every shot is to work through your pre-shot routine while having a club on the ground to confirm you are correctly aligned.
Place a club on the ground pointing directly at your intended target. This club represents your target line. Then place a second club on the ground parallel to the first to represent where you will align your feet and body.
- Alignment must be parrallel to target line - think train tracks
- A ball position that is too deep in the stance will tend to cause the ball to fly right of target (for a righthanded player)
- A ball position that is too far forward in the stance will tend to cause the ball to fly left of target (for a right handed player)