Ball Position and Alignment

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Swing Arcs and Planes

The golf swing is defined by a kinda, sorta semi-circular path in two planes, horizontal and vertical, which combine to form an inclined plane.  It is important to understand how both the horizontal and vertical parts of the swing are controlled.  Think of the triangle formed by the shoulders and two arms as one lever system and the club as a free body attachment to that upper lever system.  The center of that upper lever system forms the central hub of

The first question is the swingpath why not a perfect circular arc?  Lateral movement of the body deforms what would be a perfect circle.  When the body moves from side to side, the path the clubhead follows "flattens" out.

Stance

Stance is a generic term for a combination of fundamentals and concepts which describe how you stand up to the ball.

Balance and Flexibility

Stance width (full swing): 

Shoulder width from a plum line dropped from each to shoulder joint down to the inside of the heels.  If the stance is too wide, you will lack the flexibility needed to make a full turn of the shoulders.  If the stance is too narrow, you will be out of balance.  Obviously, this is not only a fundamental but also an individual technique.

Direction of the toes: 

Right toe turned out 10-15, left toe turned out twice as much.  Pointing the toes outward gives flexibility to the hips allowing for a larger, easier turning of the shoulders.  Turning the toes straighter to the front reduces hip flexibility and promotes a more stable "between the feet" swing.

Toe to heel & left to right foot Balance: 

You must be balanced to two ways.  Your weight will be evenly distributed between the left and right foot and from toe to heel.  The easy way to think about this is to simply stand "flat footed".

Distance from the ball: 

Automatically determined by a combination of your posture over the ball plus the combination of the lie angle and length of the shaft of a correctly fitted club.  Regardless of the club, your hands will hang about one fist's width away from your thighs and the club will generally sit with the sole flat on the ground.

Ball Position Between the Feet:

Approach shots (5I-W): 

Your intention is to putt the next shot.  Accuracy is more important than distance.  To insure the ball will get airborne, reach its maximum trajectory close to the target and fall steeply, the ball is played from the center of the stance the handle "points" at the centerline of your body.

Long approach (3W-4I): 

Your intention is to advance the ball forward and keep it on line with the green when the probability of hitting the green is reduced because of the distance of the shot.  Both distance and direction are important.  To sweep the ball cleanly off the turf and project it more forward than upward so it will release and roll upon landing, the ball is played about 1/2 way between the center of the stance and your left heel.  The handle of the club will point at the inside seam of the left breast shirt pocket

Tee ball (D or 3W): 

Your intention is to drive the ball forward for maximum distance.  To catch the ball just past "bottom dead center" as the clubhead begins to move up and through the ball, play the ball from a position just opposite your left heel.  The handle of the club will point at your armpit.

    

Note:  Ball position is directly related to alignment of the your shoulders and knees.  The more the ball moves "forward" towards the left heel, the more the shoulders must be aligned to what appears to be the right edge of the target zone or slightly closed.  The more the ball is moved back in your stance the more the shoulders need to be aimed to the left edge of the target or open!

 

Alignment

Clubface

The clubface must be square to the target line for normal shots.  This is a critical error that is overlooked by far too many recreational players.  Most players address the ball with an open clubface and then wonder why a great feeling swing motion still results in a banana ball.  When a player puts the club in a square relationship with the target line, most if not all of the curve goes away. 

 

Body

Traditional instruction teaches you to aim your shoulders, hips, knees and feet at your target. There is debate about whether you should aim a

Traditional instruction teaches you to aim your shoulders, hips, knees and feet at your target. There is debate about whether you should aim at your target or parallel left to the target.  This point, while debatable is also pretty much a false argument.  Your individual alignment will vary from that of other players.  This image gives you the basic concept which is to aim your shoulder line at the target.

All of this instruction requires further comment and some of it is just dead wrong.  First, you should limit your alignment to just your shoulders and knees.  The hips will always go 1/2 way between your shoulders and knees, so forget about the hips.  The feet lie!  When you turn your toes outward, you change your alignment.  When left toe is opened, the knees aim left of the target.  This means when your knees are parallel to the target line and your left toe is open, your feet will appear to be closed.  Like the hips, you have to forget about the feet.

Aiming your shoulders is also a little tricky because when you place your lower hand on the grip, your shoulders will naturally open.  This will usually feel petty good to most players because it gives you a sense of being able to "get through the ball".  BUT, it also tends to cause many players to swing out at the ball ... too inside to out.  This is the number one cause of a pushed shot.

The first question about alignment is why the swingpath does not form a perfectly circular arc?  Lateral movement of the body deforms what would be a perfect circle.  When the body moves from side to side, the path the clubhead follows "flattens" out.  This is of great value to a more accurate swing motion.  If there were no lateral movement in the swing motion, then you would have to have perfect ball position and alignment. The would be zero margin for error.  With a small, controlled amount of lateral motion, the clubhead will stay on a slightly straighter path through impact.  This gives you a fraction more time and space to square the clubface to the target.

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Copyright 1992  [CraftSmith Golf Enterprises].  All rights reserved.  Revised: September 08, 2012