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How to Use Golf Alignment Sticks | Swing Plane/Path, Putting Drills, Bunkers, and Chipping Drills

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In recent years, alignments sticks have become an extremely popular training aid. So much so that different brands have sprung up and are now selling them. But before that, what were golfers using? Snow poles – mostly recovered from off-course shops, and to be fair, they did the trick. But now, you can find different alignment sticks in different golf shops around the country. This brings us to the question of how to use golf alignment sticks. 

The rise of alignment sticks isn’t surprising, though. But what gives them that oomph? It could be the simplicity they possess and the fact that they provide significant value to a player.

As you might have guessed, most players make use of these sticks to help with alignment, though that’s not all they can do.

You can practice many drills using alignment sticks such as chipping drills for beginners or best golf putting drills to help improve different aspects of your golfing abilities. So, in this piece, we’ll share the different ways to use the golf alignment sticks.

Alignment Sticks – An Overview

Alignment is, unfortunately, one of the most underappreciated fundamentals in golf. And without good alignment, even a great swing can cause the ball to fly off course very easily.

But many golfers will often spend hours working on their swinging techniques and not give a second thought to making sure they are properly aimed.

But by spending quality time working on your alignment, you can step on the course knowing you are set up correctly without having to second guess yourself, and being one step closer to breaking 80.

Click here to find out what percent of golfers break 80?

What is alignment?

In golf terms, alignment refers to the aim of both the clubface and your feet/shoulder line in what’s known as the “setup” position.

Doing this right ensures that your golf club is pointed directly towards the target line that you’ve picked out for yourself – with your feet and shoulders along a line that’s also parallel – just left (or right if you are left handed) of that target line. Learn more about hitting a draw or a fade here. 

One would experience poor alignment when the golf club would be pointed out either to the left or the right of the intended line, which will cause your ball to hook or slice.

This is why it is crucial to state that the “target line” isn’t necessarily the location of the cup or the midpoint of the fairway. You’ll rarely want to aim at your final target and hit a shot.

At the end of it all, you’ll indirectly be compensating by picking a target line that enables the golf ball to move smoothly in the air.

There are reasons why you ought to aim off to the side of the final target when setting up perfectly for the shot.

How to use golf alignment sticks on a windy day.

One element that “sticks” around is the wind. It blows significantly from one side of the hole to the other, or against you. You’ll need to account for this in your alignment to play well.

Studying the distance, you should aim with the wind negating the trajectory is difficult, especially if you’re new to the game. However, it gets easier with time and garnered experience.

How to use golf alignment sticks to hit a draw or fade

fade swing path and ball flight
Example of a Fade Setup From the Tee Box
draw swing setup
A Great Example of the Draw Setup

You can use alignment sticks to hit a draw or a fade by placing the alignment sticks on the driving range mat or grass and aligning them with your feet and the clubface. Rarely will a golf shot fly in a completely straight line from the point of impact by your club to the intended target. So you might as well practice using these so that you can replicate it without them on the course. 

Instead, what you’ll get is a draw or a fade—selecting a target line that will account for the right or left movement of the golf ball while in motion is a crucial part of planning a tidy shot.

Avoiding the hazards

Of course, one other reason to alter one’s alignment is to avoid the golf penalty areas such as out-of-bounds markers and water hazards.

Aiming a few yards correctly from the hazards gives you ample opportunity to have a swing with a notable margin for error. It can also help you avoid costly penalty strokes. Learn more about understanding golf penalty rules here.

How to use golf alignment sticks for swing plane/path

For most golfers, these sticks play a crucial role in helping them improve. However, to enhance your ability as a golf player, you need to harness this golf tool’s functionality properly.

If you want professional tips on using golf alignment sticks, look no further than the next section of this article.

Swing Plane/Path

This is the perfect drill for golfers who often struggle with over-the-top golf swings. The alignment stick is often placed in the ground at a 45-degree angle. This should match the angle of your club shaft roughly at the address.

Meanwhile, you can place it through a basket if you’re at the range. As you take the golf club back to the point where you’ve introduced your wrist hinge, the angle of your golf club should match the alignment stick.

Finally, as you swing down, your club should pass beneath the plane of the stick. This creates an “in-out” swing path, which most amateur golfers struggle to correct.

Bunker Striking

As far as playing bunker shots are concerned, most golfers find the concept of hitting the sand before the ball a bit hard. This drill often shows further where the golf club needs to enter the sand to hit repeatable.

Take the right position and place two alignment sticks on the sand – one marking the spot of the ball with your feet while the other marks where the golf club should enter the sand. Hence, it would be best to push the sticks into the sand as it helps create two lines. You can remove them from the bunker afterward.

Next, move away from the golf ball and take some swings, aiming to strike the first line drawn. The goal is to recreate that feeling when you hit the ball, and it should pop in the green softly, right on the cushion of sand.

How to use golf alignment sticks for  putting drills

Putting alignment is an awesome putting drill for beginners that helps golfers improve the consistency of their strokes. First, find a putt on the practice green of roughly 15ft coupled with a moderate amount of break.

To get comfortable with the breaks, you can hit a couple of practice putts without the stick. Next, place the alignment sticks on the ground, pointing them where you want the ball to start moving. Then address the ball properly using the stick as a reference to perfectly align your body and clubface.

Now you’re ready to start hitting putts. But make sure you’re hitting from the right position all the time. What this drill does is help you develop good golfing basics and commit you to the line you’ve chosen.

Keep statistics!

Keeping your practice putting statistics to help you understand what putts you need to work on. You can grab one of the best golf stats books here!

Chipping Technique

One of the many mistakes golfers make when it comes to the art of chipping in golf is, they flick at the ball. As a result, they introduce excessive wrist hinge through impact, and they often lose control of the distance and strike of their shots.

Meanwhile, one way to further help this is to hold an alignment stick in your hands as you grip the club while practicing. So, the stick runs up past your left hip.

And as you make chipping swings, the alignment stick should always stay on the right side of your body. If you feel the alignment stick hitting your body, you are not rotating enough. Check out more of our beginner golf chipping drills here. 

Golf Swing Checker

You’ve probably not heard this before – but the golf swing check is a great way to improve the path of your swing.

As you swing your wrists in the backswing, the alignment stick should be pointing at the ground. You can do this whether you are at home or at the range. And as you take your grip further back, hold the stick so that it’s touching your lead hip in the address position.

Now, slowly but deliberately practice swing. Stop at key spots to see where the stick is pointing. It should always be in line with the stick on the ground.

Next, the primary position to check will always be halfway through the player’s downswing. It would be best to aim the alignment stick right/left from your target line.

At the impact stage, the stick should be close to the left side of your body and stay off your body through the finish of the swing.  

Long Game Alignment Stick Practice

When it comes to using the alignment sticks, one major way to take advantage of its functionality is with the long game alignment.

To achieve this, you need to head to the range and place one of the sticks on the ball-to-target line. And the alignment stick should be a few meters closer to the target than the golf ball.

Once it’s in, place another stick down parallel to the first one to mark the spot of your hips, feet, and shoulders.

Next, take note of the address position with your club pointing at the first stick and your body parallel to your ball-to-target line. You should have the right club and body alignment if you do it properly.

Ball Striking

A quick question: What’s the right angle of attack in golf? This is a crucial question with a long or mid-iron in hand.

Place two of these sticks on the ground, with one marking the golf position, while the second will be an inch closer to the target, thus, making where the low point of the golf club needs to be in your swing.

Then, hit some of the shots and use the alignment sticks to properly highlight the ball’s trajectory and where it’s on a downward angle.

Chipping Strikes

Do you know what this is? Well, it’s a similar drill for chipping. Place the stick on the ground, making it face your line of the target outside your trail foot.

Get to the course early. Hit the range and take some chips while avoiding hitting the alignment stick. What this accomplishes is that it creates a shallow but downward strike that’s vital when you chip.

Don’t wait until you get to the course and practice at home! Check out our best floating chipping greens around. 

Shot Shaping

Suppose you’ve got access to a lush green course. Start by pushing an alignment stick into the ground on your ball-to-target line, roughly four meters away from you.

The objective of this sort of design is to make you feel like you’ve got a tree on your target line that you need to shape the ball around.

Next, try to hit two shots shaped around the alignment stick – (try one draw and one fade).

Concentrate majorly on starting the ball either to the left or to the right of the stick and see if you can shape the ball back.

This particular drill is designed to help you develop a 360-degree understanding of how to manipulate the trajectory of your shots.

Putting Speed

This is an awesome drill for “morphing” you into being able to play many shots into the greens. To achieve this, place the stick on the ground, make it a bit wider than the length of your putter grip, and ensure that it’s far from it.

Then, with one ball, try to hit the putt so the hit gets the right speed to reach the hole without touching the alignment stick.

Now, repeat this, for the downhill, uphill, and right across the hill to get a great feel for pace, especially before making a shot.

Drills you can use alignment sticks with  

Train Tracks Drill

The training drill is the most common way golfers use alignment sticks. To execute this drill, start by laying one stick on the ground outside the perimeter of the ball; this way, it points directly at your target line.

Next, lay another stick, but make it parallel to the first one, hence, making both of your toes touch it at address. You can use your golf divot tool to hold the alignment stick in place. 

The drill using a Narrow Path

To do this, take the stick that’s laid across your toes (from the previous drill you’ve done). Next, move the stick closer to the ball; this way, it’ll stay an inch inside the ball and one inch outside of it (the golf ball).

One of the main things you’ll notice when watching an amateur play is that their swing path is outside-in. This creates a narrow path for your golf club to travel down. It creates a sidespin on the golf ball, thus, resulting in a slice/draw.

Three Parallel Lines Drill

This last drill would require assistance – you can get your friends to help with this part. First, keep one golf alignment stick on the ground, laying them down perfectly on your feet line.

Next, have your friend take the second alignment stick and push it down your forearms and shoulders. The lines must be parallel to the alignment stick on the ground to get the right result. This drill aims to help you become conscious of your setups when playing. It will let you know if your positioning is natural and connected.

Takeaway Drill

The next drill is quite easy and effective too. First, lay a stick on the ground with the ball in front so that it’s on your target line. Then, whenever you take a backswing, ensure that you:

  • First, try to take your golf club head back gently and fairly low to the ground – more importantly, with your driver.
  • Next, ensure that your golf club doesn’t go beyond the perimeter of the alignment stick.

Downward Strike Drill

First, lay one of the alignments sticks on the ground about an inch behind the golf ball. It should be perpendicularly laid to the target line.

Then hit multiple golf balls and work on hitting the ball first and the then ground.

Swing Plane Drill

The Swing plan drill is one of my favorites. And as you try it out yourself, you’ll find out that this drill will help get the ball going on a straight trajectory whenever you aren’t hitting the ball correctly.

To do this, first, put an alignment stick on the ground at a 45-degree angle right behind you. Then, take some practice swings at a slow pace.

The pace of the ball at this point will help you get a feel of the golf club, especially when it’s traveling up and down the stick.

Find out more swing plane drills here. 

Frequent Asked Questions

How many alignment sticks do I need?

You need one alignment stick, but two is preferable. It all balls down to the drill you are doing. A drill the involves checking your ball position would require two sticks. I have seen a player use up to 5 different alignment sticks for a single drill!

Are alignment Sticks even legal?

Tour sticks are legal, especially for practice swing drills. You will commonly see these used on the PGA tour. If you are not using alignment sticks, you are hurting yourself. Every single PGA professional has used alignment sticks or uses them in their career.  

Are all alignment sticks the same?

Even though most alignment sticks look the same, they have some differences. Do your research to see which ones will work best for you.

Long Bombs Golf Final Say:

We recommend you take care of your alignment sticks by getting one of these golf alignment stick covers. Alignment sticks are probably the cheapest most valuable tool that you can include in your golf bag. We here at Long Bombs prefer you to have at least 2-3 alignment sticks with you for every practice session. You can do many drills that will help you from your swing plane to your short game, to your putting stroke. 

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