Symptom: Your golf aiming is poor, because you have well struck shots that are straight but off target.
Your misses are very repeatable, indicating a consistent aim point. Its just not the aim point you thought you were targeting. So your ball is in the rough, or the woods, or the fairway bunker instead of the short grass.
Overview: Before you address the ball, stand in back of your ball and look at your distant, intended target. Pick a spot on the ground about two feet in front of your ball on your intended line.
Keep your eye on this spot as you walk up the the ball to take your stance. At address, aim the clubface at your chosen spot, not the target in the distance.
You might look at your distant target one more time, but before you execute your backswing, check one last time that your clubface is still aimed at the spot two feet in front of you.
Why it works: It’s hard to aim at a target 200 yards away with any certainty. When your target is far away, it is easy to get off line without you knowing, which causes you to compensate during your swing, leading to shots that either “feel good” but are off line, or are off target “just like the last time”. How annoying!
A Near-in Aim Point is Exactly What your Golf Aiming Needs
It’s much easier to aim at something that is close to you. And, since you can’t put a club on the ground like you do on the driving range, it’s doubly important that you use this method to ensure proper alignment.
Have a look at Justin Rose use this close-in aimpoint technique and take it a step further. Justin uses his golf club to help sight his line, by holding the club up in front of him.
By glancing from the clubhead, down the shaft, to the ground in front of him (0:00 to 0:03), he rapidly identifies his proper line.
Justin also takes advantage of the way the tee box grass is cut, by teeing his ball on the boundary between “dark” and “light” grass that just happens to be parallel to his intended target line. Very clever, and very smart! Have a look:
Now have a look at this distinguished threesome — Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, and Rory McIlroy. All of them line up their shots from behind, in order to have some sort of intermediate aiming point to help them stay aligned as they set up to the ball. Have a look:
Psychologically Speaking, A Close Aim Point Calms Your Nerves
There is another, less obvious reason to keep your focus “close in” instead of “out there”. If you think about what is “out there”, your mind may start to focus on the bunker, or the water, or the tree, or whatever.
Don’t let your mind wander down those negative paths! Pick your intended target by looking “out there”, but then line up and execute your swing “close in”. This is how you should always practice anyway. A close-in aiming point can help you stay calmer and more focused on the course.
Watch the pros on TV — how many of them pick a close-in aiming point? Most of them! So why do you think you don’t have to? Do you practice more than they do? Not likely.
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