How To Aim In Golf

How to aim in golf - here's our full guide to one of the most important fundamentals in the game

How To Aim In Golf
(Image credit: Howard Boylan)

It goes without saying that how to aim in golf is crucial, for this game is all about hitting targets. It's one of the key fundamentals alongside the perfect golf grip and getting the right ball position for every club. Has your playing partner ever remarked, after you've hit a wayward one, "that's where you were aiming"? Often that'll come as a surprise, but it's easy to slip into bad habits. And sometimes, especially if you're new to the game, you simply don't know how to aim in golf. 

Here, Top 50 Coach Zane Scotland, offers some top tips and advice to help you get your alignment spot on. Once you're aiming properly, you'll be giving yourself a decent chance of finding that fairway... or green...

How To Aim In Golf: Swing Path

Alignment is one of the key basics for golf, but it’s really easy to get a little bit off. Poor alignment can affect your swing - for instance, if you are aiming to the left (as a right hander, opposite for left handers), this can cause you to cut across the ball and either hit a slice or pull your shots. Likewise, aiming right can cause a hook or a push depending on how your clubface is working through the ball.

This underlines the importance of good alignment but how do you do it? Let's take a look...

Checking Your Alignment 

How To Aim In Golf

(Image credit: Future)

Go to the range and line up at a target, then put a shaft or alignment stick down on your heel line. If you lay it down on your toe line, it can be distorted by turning your feet out, as some people like to do. Then step behind and see where it is aiming. 

Your foot line should be parallel to your target line, like a train track, so it should be aiming very slightly left of your target (for a right-hander) if you’ve aligned correctly at address. If your alignment isn’t right then stand in again and make adjustments, checking each time, so you start to calibrate yourself to what square to target actually looks and feels like. Jack Nicklaus used to do this after every round.

Don't Forget Your Shoulders 

How To Aim In Golf

(Image credit: Future)

Even when your feet are correctly aligned, your shoulders can sometimes not be. You want your feet and shoulders to be parallel at address. It’s easy to make sure they match by holding a club shaft across your shoulder line. This is also good for making sure your shoulders are parallel to the ground for iron shots, and your lead shoulder is slightly higher for driver, a crucial factor in how to hit a driver

Use Spot Alignment 

How To Aim In Golf

(Image credit: Future)

Where Do You Aim When Hitting A Golf Ball?

Aiming at target along way away can be tricky as you set you club down behind the ball. Instead, in your mind's eye, draw a line back from your target to your ball and pick a spot a foot or two in front of the ball, on that line, that you want to start it over to help you align correctly. This can be a bit of darker grass, a divot, a twig or anything. Then build a golf pre-shot routine where you put the clubhead in behind the ball first, aiming over that spot, and you set up and take your posture around the clubface, rather than standing in and putting the club behind the ball.

It’s really important that you aim exactly where you want to at address, but it’s worth noting that you might not always want to align straight at where you want the ball to finish, such as the flag or the middle of the fairway. You need to take your natural shot shape into account, so aim left to allow for a fade or right to allow for a draw if you’re a right-hander, and the reverse for lefties.

Zane Scotland
Top 50 Coach

Location: Bletchingley GC 

Zane has been coaching for six years after a playing career that saw him feature in two Opens. He has worked with and been inspired by the likes of David Leadbetter, Claude Harmon, Pete Cowen, Mac O'Grady and Robert Rock and he has coached a huge number of male and female tour pros in recent years. 

Most common impact fault:

Not enough compression There are many ways of correcting it, hitting full speed shots and putting the brakes on post impact is one of the main ones. 

A typical lesson:

Start with a conversation with some analysis and then working on which fundamental to tackle and improve - contact, power, curvature. Then help the player understand and gain clarity on the improvements that can be made and map out how we are going to tackle them. Then will demo improvements and, if needed, move through different drills and feels to get the best ones for the player. After a time of learning the new improved feels and moves we will do some performance drills as to see how much or how little the player can use straightaway and what is more long-term work that may take some time to show up in performance. We will close the session by agreeing on a practice/training plan going forward and then I will make a video with the client watching so they have that 3-5 minute video for reference when they go to practise/play on their own. 

Students learn best when… 

When they are open and are comfortable enough within the environment to fail. Helping them understand that when we are together working on their game that they are in a place where they are allowed to fail they are able to learn at a better rate.