For many golfers, alignment sticks have an essential role to play in helping you to improve. They have a vast array of uses and in this video and article, PGA professional and Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Alex Elliott offers his 10 favourite tips for how to use golf alignment sticks!
How To Use Golf Alignment Sticks
10. Swing Plane
This is a great drill for any golfer who struggles with an over the top golf swing. The alignment stick is placed in the ground behind you at a 45˚ angle (it should roughly match the angle of your club shaft at address - the video that comes with this article shows how to do it). If you are at the range, you can place the stick through a basket. As you take the club back to the point where you have introduced your wrist hinge, the angle of the club shaft should match the alignment stick. Then as you swing down, the club should pass under the plane of the alignment stick. This will create that ‘in-to-out’ swing path that so many amateur golfers struggle with.
9. Putting Alignment
This is a great drill to help improve the consistency of your stroke. Find a putt on the practice green of about 15ft with a moderate amount of break. Hit a couple of practice putts without the stick to see what the break looks like. Then place the stick on the ground pointing at where you want the ball to start rolling. Address the ball, using the stick as a reference to align your clubface and body. Now hit a series of putts taking care to get in the correct address position everytime - this drill forces you to develop good fundamentals and commit to the line you’ve chosen!
8. Bunker Striking
When it comes to how to play bunker shots, most club golfers struggle with the concept of hitting the sand before the ball. This drill works well to show you where the club should enter the sand to hit repeatable, reliable bunkers shots. Take your address position and then place two alignment sticks on the sand - one marking the position of the ball in relation to your feet and the other marking where the club should enter the sand. Push the sticks into the sand to create two lines and then remove them from the bunker. Now move away from the ball and have a couple of practice swings, aiming to strike the first line - the video that comes with this article shows you how to do it. Simply recreate that feeling when you hit the ball and it should emerge onto the green softly, on a cushion of sand! This is one of the best bunker tips for golf to help you save par.
7. Long Game Alignment
When it comes to how to use golf alignment sticks, this most obvious thing is it can help with how to aim in golf. Head to the range and place one stick on the line of your ball-to-target line - the alignment stick should be a couple of feet closer to the target than the ball. Once this is in, place another stick down parallel to the first one, to mark the position of your feet, hips and shoulders. Now take your address position with your clubface pointing directly at the first stick and your body parallel to your ball-to-target line. If you do it correctly, you should have perfect club and body alignment.
6. Golf Swing Checker
This is a great one to improve the path of your swing, either at the range or at home. As you take your grip, place an alignment stick in your hands so that in the address position, the stick is touching your lead hip. Take a look at the video with this article to see exactly how this is done. Now make a slow, deliberate practice swing, stopping at certain key positions to see where the alignment stick is pointing. As you hinge your wrists in the backswing, the stick should point at the ground. Then, the key position to check is half way through the downswing. The stick should be aiming slightly right of your target line. This highlights whether you are attacking the ball with a slightly in-to-out path. At impact the stick should be close to your left hand side and then in the finish, check that it doesn’t touch your body.
5. Chipping Technique
One of the biggest mistakes golfers make when it comes to how to chip in golf is they flick at the ball. They introduce too much wrist hinge through impact and they lose control of the strike and distance of their shots. One way to help this is, as you grip the club in practice, hold an alignment stick in your hands as well, so the stick runs up past your left hip. As you make some chipping swings, the stick should never touch the left side of your body. Groove the action, then hit some chips and you should develop a more reliable chipping technique.
4. Ball Striking
What is the right angle of attack in golf? It is an important question and with a mid or long iron in hand, if you get it right, the divot will begin just after you have struck the ball. You can practice this with alignment sticks. Place two on the ground - one marking your ball position and the second, an inch closer to target, making where the low point of the club should be in your swing. Hit some shots (as I do in the video) and use the sticks to highlight whether you are striking the ball with a downward angle of attack.
3. Chipping strikes
Here is a similar drill for chipping. Place the alignment stick on the ground facing your target, just outside your trail foot (again, the video shows how this looks). Hit some chip shots simply trying to avoid striking the stick. This creates that shallow but still downward strike that is so important when you chip.
2. Shot Shaping
If you have access to a grass range, this is a great way to practice your shot shaping. Place an alignment stick in the ground directly on your ball-to-target line, about four metres away from you. This is designed to recreate that feeling of when you have a tree on your line that you need to shape the ball around. See if you can hit two shots that shape around the stick in different ways (one fade and one draw). Concentrate on starting the ball either to the right or left of the stick and then see if you can shape it back. This drill is about feel and helping you develop an understanding for how to manipulate the flight of your shots!
1. Putting Pace
When it comes to how to use golf alignment sticks, this is a brilliant drill for tuning yourself into the pace of the greens. Place an alignment stick on the ground, just wider than the length of your putter grip, away from the hole. With one golf ball only, try to hit the putt so it has enough pace to reach the hole without it going on to touch the stick. Repeat this practice putting drill for uphill, downhill and across the hill putts to get a great feel for pace, particularly before you play.
Are Alignment Sticks Worth It?
At somewhere between $20-25, alignment sticks are a relatively modest investment given the potential benefit to your game. What's more, there are a range of options - all of which are light (meaning they can be kept in your bag full time without adding too much bulk) and some of which fold up into a compact package.
However, whether or not they are worth it depends on how much you practice. If you are focused on improving your golf game, there are loads of applications (as this article shows). Used correctly, you should certainly see a benefit. And given how small they are and that you can stick them in the ground, they are more useful than just relying on the shafts of your clubs.
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In July 2023, Neil became just the 9th editor in Golf Monthly's 112-year history. Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he has also presented many Golf Monthly videos looking at all areas of the game from Tour player interviews to the rules of golf.
Throughout his time with the brand he has also covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons: PING Blueprint S (4&5), PING Blueprint T (6-PW) Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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