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Golf Tips from a Pro: Aim small miss small

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Mark Wehrman, Head Golf Professional at the Big Sky Golf Course, displaying proper parallel alignment. PHOTO BY TOM CONWAY

By Mark Wehrman EBS CONTRIBUTOR

Are you aligning yourself to the target correctly? Do you have a target? Are you picking an intermediate target? From my experience, teaching golf for the past 20 years, alignment is the most overlooked fundamental in golf. 

But why? Golf is certainly a target orientated game. I like to use the old adage that relates to throwing darts: Aim small and you will miss small. The more specific you can be about your target, likely, the closer your mishits will be to your target. This is important because golf is all about maximizing your mishits. Golf is not a game of perfection.

This all begs the question; how do we align ourselves to the target correctly? Well, first off, we should always start behind the ball. Pick your very specific target using the strategy that if you mishit your shot you don’t get yourself in to trouble for the next shot position. More specifically, if the hole location is on the right side of the green and there is a bunker guarding the right side of the green then you should pick a target left of the hole somewhere. That way, if you miss your shot to the right you don’t end up in the bunker.  

Another example would be if you are on the tee box and there are out of bounds boundaries on the left side of the hole and another hole on the right side. Taking into account these factors, your target should favor the right side of the fairway. So, rule No. 1 when picking your target is: always play away from trouble.

Next, while you are still standing behind the ball pick an intermediate target: something on the ground between your ball and your target. This could be an old divot hole, a weed, a discoloration or imperfection in the grass, an old broken tee, etc. This will help you aim your clubface better as it is much easier to aim at something 3-feet in front of you than something 300 yards away from you. 

Once you have picked your intermediate target it is now time to approach the ball. When approaching the ball, I like to follow the acronym “CHEF”.  This stands for club, hands, eyes, and feet. Aim the clubface at your intermediate target, put your hands on the grip, eye the target while setting your feet.  

Lastly, we do not aim our feet at our target, but instead, parallel to your target.  Your body lines, which consist of feet, knees, hips, shoulders, and eyes should all be aimed in the same direction parallel to your target line, which is where your clubface is aimed.  

Practicing proper alignment will make your mishits fall much closer to your target and your good shots will be rewarded with a shorter, easier follow-up shot. Remember, you are not going to hit every shot perfect, but if you have sound alignment you will always find the ball closer to your target.

Mark Wehrman is the Head Golf Professional at the Big Sky Resort Golf Course and has been awarded the PGA Horton Smith Award recognizing PGA Professionals who are model educators of PGA Golf Professionals.

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