Trying to hit a small ball with a club into a cup in the ground hundreds of yards away is arguably one of the most difficult sports out there. Without technique and practice, you would be out on the course all day.
This target-oriented sport requires players to find spots on the fairway to position the ball well enough to be able to hit it onto the green, then ultimately in the hole.
It’s common for even skilled golfers to forget the proper aiming techniques amidst remembering all the other techniques required to play the game. Although being a great golfer takes a combination of techniques, how to aim a golf shot should be a top priority.
What You Didn’t Know About Aiming Your Shot
Having an excellent swing doesn’t mean your ball will go anywhere near the hole. No matter what straight drive, chip shot or put you make, it won’t be any good without aiming towards the cup before you swing.
Something you should always keep in mind is that your ball is going to go wherever you look. Just like looking out the window while driving might make you veer off to the side, sighting the wrong position or direction will force your ball to veer off course.
You might have thought you should just look at exactly where you want your ball to land—but that couldn’t be falser! Novice golfers often make this mistake and then get frustrated when the ball lands in the bunker.
Focus instead on an intermediate target. It will take your mind off the hazards and aim your shot towards the objective. An intermediate target is one that is on the same line of aim between your ball and your initial target.
So now that you see how important it is, you might be wondering how to aim in golf. We’ve broken it down step by step below.
Pro Guide to Lining Up Your Golf Aim
Step 1: Find a target
The way the course is set up, your target may not always be the hole. If there is a turn in the fairway or the green is too far to hit onto, you will need to aim for a spot that will get you into the best position for your next shot. This spot will be your initial target.
Step 2: Stand behind the ball
Looking out from the back of your ball gives you the best direct view to your target. When you step behind the ball, make an imaginary line from your initial target to your ball. This creates the line for you to hit a straight ball down.
Step 3: Pick an intermediate target
Once you find your imaginary line, you can find something closer to you that will act as your intermediate target. This can be anything from a divot in the ground to a broken tee, anything you can keep your eye on. If you are going to obsess over anything, make it this. It will trick your subconsciousness into hitting it that way.
Step 4: Line up your club first—not your feet
This is where attention to detail matters if you want to know how to line up a golf shot. The first thing that should be lined up to your intermediate target is your club face. Novice beginners often position their feet and body first, but it should actually be the club that sets your position.
The club should be perpendicular to the line. This is because sometimes the right footing on a shot is not lined up with the target. When setting feet before the club, you are more likely to aim your body wrong.
Step 5: Set your body
Align your feet to the ball. How you align your body is up to whatever stance you find most comfortable and best for your swing. As for your aim, you will line your shoulders, hips, legs, and feet up to the face of your club. They should end up parallel to the imaginary line.
Step 6: Take one last look
One of the most fundamental techniques in golf is to keep your eyes on the ball during the swing. This is the moment to take before you swing to make sure you’ve aligned yourself correctly. It is crucial to remember to completely reset if you feel off. Trying to adjust just one thing about the aim will throw off every other element.
How To Practice Your Aim
There are several mental and instrumental aids that you can use to practice your aim. One of the most common of these is simple visualization. It is common for golfers to imagine train tracks running through the alignment of their body and the target path. They should be so parallel that they resemble them. There are two ways you can practice getting used to this specific skill.
Alignment sticks are training tools that are used to make these “train tracks” visible. If you do not have these sticks, it is easy to use your clubs to visualize the line as well.
You can also put markings on the ball itself to align the club face. According to the USGA, identification markings on balls are perfectly within the rules of play.
An easy exercise to do on the range is to find random intermediate targets. Set up and take the shot as if you are really playing, but mostly focus on the closer objective. This will train your mind to set up this way every time you go to swing.
Hitting into a net can be helpful to keep your mind focused on practicing with a closer target. The net will keep you from worrying over the possible negative outcome of a further out target.
Aiming Tips to Remember
If you have a clean swing but have been struggling to find out why you aren’t playing your best, take a step back and think about how you are aiming a golf shot. Chances are you aren’t even aiming at all. By following these steps and tips, you’ll be the best on the course in no time.