Golf is a target game, and just like any other target-based game, aiming is essential to your success in golf.
Unfortunately, and oddly, many golfers completely ignore this part of the game. If you pay attention to the other players at your local golf course on the average Saturday morning, you will find that most of them are hardly aiming at all – they are simply walking up to the ball and letting it rip. Not surprisingly, the results of those shots tend to be a bit disappointing. In order to break the mold and come up with many more quality shots than the people you play with and against, you will need to make aiming a top priority in your pre-shot routine.
Taking aim in golf makes so much sense that it really shouldn’t even need to be said. How could you expect to hit accurate golf shots without actually paying attention to the way you aim the club? Even a great swing that hits the ball dead straight is still going to lead to a disappointing result if you didn’t aim correctly in the first place.
Many of the off-target shots that are blamed on a poor golf swing are actually the result of bad aim. Take the variable of poor aim out of the equation and watch your game improve overnight!
Pick a Target
The first part of the aiming process is simply picking a target for the shot at hand. Believe it or not, some golfers even neglect making target selection a part of their game.
Without a target in mind, you will have no way of knowing where to aim, and you will have very little chance of hitting a quality shot. Your target doesn’t always have to be the hole itself, either – you could be aiming away from the cup for safety, or you could be playing your tee shot into the wide side of the fairway for a good angle on the approach. It will be up to you to decide how aggressive or conservative you want to be with your targets.
No matter what kind of target you pick, it is absolutely essential that you do pick one before moving on to the next step.
Find an Intermediate Target
This next step is where the average golfer falls out of line with the aiming process used by most professional golfers. Instead of walking up and hitting the shot after picking a target, most pros will pick an intermediate target that they can use to aim up the shot. This intermediate target is usually just a few feet in front of the ball, and it is located directly on the line between your ball and the selected target.
The idea is simple – instead of trying to aim at the target that may be hundreds of yards away, you can use the intermediate target that you have picked to aim your club properly. As long as you are aimed accurately with your intermediate target, you can feel great knowing that you are aiming correctly at the actual target as well.
So what should you pick for an intermediate target? You will be surprised at how many options you have when you look carefully at the ground in front of your ball. There is bound to be a small discolored spot or a blade of grass that is longer than the rest. Take a look down your target line while standing behind the ball and pick out something that you can easily spot from address. Once you stand over the ball, align your club face with that short target, take your stance, and get ready to hit a great shot.
Take Your Time to Aim
Rushing through the aiming process is almost certainly going to lead to bad results. While you don’t want to take so long that you hold up the groups behind you, it is important to take a moment to get aimed just right.
Keep in mind however that while it is okay to take an extra moment while aiming, you want to pick the pace back up when you get over the ball. Once your stance is taken and the club is aimed, there is nothing left to do except hit the shot. Take one last look at the target, look back down at the ball, and swing away. Standing over the ball for a long period of time will only hurt your chances of making a good swing.
When done properly, the lead up to your swings will have a nice rhythm – you will take a moment to aim, you will set the feet and your club, and then you will hit the shot. Ideally, you will repeat this same tempo over and over again throughout your round.
Club Head First, then Feet
One of the classic aiming mistakes made by millions of golfers is placing their feet next to the ball before the club head has taken its place. As you walk up to the ball, it is absolutely imperative that you place the club head down and aim it first before putting your feet into position. If you take your stance first and then aim the club, your feet will likely be aimed in the wrong direction – ruining your shot, even if you managed to get the club face aligned correctly.
While there is room in golf for individual style and preference, there is no room for debate on this point – aim your club face prior to setting your feet if you want to hit accurate shots.
Practicing on the range with a good set of alignment sticks is also a great way to get used to the feeling of having your club face and feet properly aligned to the target.
Aiming the club face accurately at the target is one of the most important things you can do as a golfer. There might not be anything more frustrating in golf than making a great swing only to look up and see the ball sailing in the wrong direction. To make sure your good swings are rewarded as they should be, take the time necessary to accurately aim the club face time after time.
Cover Photo via Flickr