Think Railway!

Hello there golfers,

I’d like to talk quickly about the importance of proper alignment in the set-up. It is really important to understand that the alignment in the set-up influences the actual path of the golf club at the take-away. The take-away is absolutely important to establish the correct path for the club to travel on. Once the club has gained a little momentum in the first move of the club, then it is really hard to ‘steer’ the club onto the correct path. I see this problem a lot on the Golf Tours with Rovos Rail and it’s an easy fix.

What happens in the take-away? In the set-up of the golf swing, the feet, hips & shoulders generally aligns in a natural way where they are very close to being parallel to each other. In the take-away, most golfers take the club back relative to that alignment. This is the natural way the body works in the turn around the spine as the pivot for the swing to be produced. So, if you are aiming too far right (the most common one), the club will be taken back to a square position with your feet, hips and shoulder alignment; but on the inside relative to the target. I see a lot of golfers with a REALLY good set-up and take-away, but just aiming too far right. So the it looks great in terms of where they are aiming, but closed and inside for the target. Have a look at this great set-up below. Looks really nicely balanced and ready for a great swing. It’s clearly just aimed too far to the right:

The flag this day was right under the red indicator. See how his hips are also aligned to the right? A natural way we are constructed. Now lets’ look at the actual take-away and where it’s going from this set-up:

The green line added to the left side is also parallel to the other ones. See ho the club naturally follows this ‘closed’ alignment? It’s the natural way our bodies are designed. The spine is the middle axis of the rotation and in only very unique cases, the rotational point of the arms and hands veers of from this natural rotation.

What happens after this? In this swing there is only one way to ‘fix’ this problem. If this golfer executes the perfect swing from here, the ball will go far to the right into the bush. I actually recorded this golf swing at the 8th hole of Sun City’s Lost City golf course. The golfer also hit the green! What he does is this: When he reaches the top, the comes “over the top” (relative to where he is actually aiming) and steers the ball to the target. The problem with that fix is that there is no longevity and consistency. Yes, he’ll hit the green/fairway now and then as he has figured out how to play with that set-up, but now and then there will be the straight block to the right or the over-compensated hook to the left. It’s not a very consistent way to play the game as you don’t always know “how much of my fix must I put in to make it work”. That is hard to pull off every time.

What should this golfer do? Since we travel on the train a lot, most golfers know very well what the railway tracks look like! Our alignment should should be square to the target as much as we can help it. The best way for me to explain this is by imagining that there are a set of railway lines going to the target. The one long the ball-to-target line goes straight to the target, and the other one goes along like natural railways to just left of the target… see below:

This is a great set-up. So in actual fact, the feet are same distance left of the flag as it is from the ball here. Now, this is not as easy as just imagining the railway lines.

How do I achieve this alignment? There are just three simple steps on how to do that:

  1. Stand behind the ball and look at the target before you get set-up. Find the target and put the ball in line with where you are standing. So, you, the ball and the target is in perfect line with the ball just in front of you.
  2. Stay where you are and find a piece of grass, divot or anything else that is also on the same line and keep watching it.
  3. Make your set-up with that divot or spot in mind by aligning the club square to that spot. The club is now well aligned. Now, all you need to do is to align your feet parallel to that line, the one between the club and the spot of grass or divot.

What not to do? if you are a golfer that normally aligned too far to the right, do not simply apply your swing to this new alignment as you will hit some seriously pulled shots! That problem occurs when the right shoulder moved around the body to ‘pull’ the shot back to target. Now you need to actually get the swing on plane again by dropping your shoulder downwards from the top position. So the right shoulder will rather drop down almost squeezing it into your right hip rather than moving it around your spine and over the top. Please excuse me if you are a lefty, just invert! 😉

Tanks very much folks, keep coming back here for more tips to help you improve your game!

See you soon!