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Golf Equipment Buyer's Guide  
Harvey Penick tips: Stay On Target
 

Harvey's Quick Tip: Hit the ball solidly, and I can show you where you were aimed. Once you learn this, your mind will tell you how to aim.

 

Have you ever hit a great shot 20 yards off line? Have you had to endure heckling from playing partners who say, “That's right where you aimed.”? Unfortunately, many golfers have to answer “yes” to both questions, because getting the ball to consistently end up at the intended target is easier said than done.

OFF TARGET: Aligning the club to the target before setting up at address allows golfers to avoid poorly aimed shots — and heckling.

As a fundamental of golf, alignment is a fairly simple concept. There is the target line (the line running from the ball to the intended target) and proper alignment is PARALLEL to this line. The best way to think of it is like a railroad track. The ball is on one rail and you are standing on the other. They never cross but they do visually come together in the distance. No golfer has perfect alignment all the time, but experienced golfers stay on the target line more consistently.

Most players struggle to stay on target due to improper setup. Poor “aimers” are busy setting the club and their feet, and spend very little time, if any, looking at the target. When they do look, their eyes find the target, and because they see it where it has always been, they must aim at it.

Look closely and you will notice that almost all good golfers aim the same way. They approach the ball from behind, moving their eyes back and forth from the ball to the target, eventually looking at the ground as they place the clubhead behind the ball. These good “aimers” make sure the clubface is square, as they step up to the ball with their right foot. Many players select an intermediate target, two to three feet in front of the ball, to help them aim.

It is important to ensure the club and shoulders are square. Place both feet in proper position, allowing them to set up naturally under your already square shoulders. Look back to the ball. Your clubhead, shoulders and feet should now be square to the target. Place a club on the ground parallel to your feet to see how you did, but remember to look at the club AFTER you line up and not before.

STEP ONE: Place the clubface behind the ball, making sure it is square.

STEP TWO: Align the club to the target before placing your feet in position. STEP THREE: Set your feet under your squared shoulders and look back at the target. STEP FOUR: You are properly aligned to the target, so let it rip!
Think of it this way. There is no reason to look directly at the ball until you are ready to hit it and there is no reason to look at your feet except to see if your shoes are tied! If you square the clubhead to the target first and then look at the target before or as you set your feet, you will be very close and very consistent to the target line. Now the only words your playing partners will utter are “nice shot.”

This tip can be found on Page 110 of Harvey Penick's Little Red Book.

Penick's Basics:
Alignment

Look closely and you will notice that almost all good golfers aim the same way. They approach the ball from behind, moving their eyes back and forth from the ball to the target, eventually looking at the ground as they place the clubhead behind the ball. These good “aimers” make sure the clubface is square, as they step up to the ball with their right foot. Many players select an intermediate target, two to three feet in front of the ball, to help them aim.