Lesson TeeDecember 13, 2010

Get Square To Make More Putts

Alignment is not just about setting your feet

Setup Check: From this view, the left side of your body should hide the right side.

Setup Check: From this view, the left side of your body should hide the right side.

Golf is a reaction game. We react to our misses, and we also react to our address position. Many bad shots are directly related to mistakes made in the setup, especially in putting.

A lot of players think putting alignment is just getting their feet parallel to the target line. That's a good start, but it's not enough. Your feet, hips, shoulders, eyes and arms all should be aligned with the target line. If you were aiming at a full-length mirror, when you look up, your left side should be blocking any view of your right side (near right).

The most common mistake players make is squaring their feet but leaving their arms and shoulders open (far right). This causes you to have to hold the putterface open through impact to compensate for pulling across the ball from an open position. At minimum, it's a really inconsistent way to putt.

Get your alignment squared away, and a smoother stroke will soon follow. You'll be knocking in more putts from every distance.

__HANK HANEY

__, * Golf Digest Teaching Professional, runs the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head.*


WHO'LL BE THE NEXT WORLD NO. 1?

For the past five years, Tiger Woods has so dominated the World Golf Ranking that there wasn't any point even talking about it. Things have changed.

That spot seems to be up for grabs in 2011, with Martin Kaymer (below), Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson and Woods all bunched near the top. It's an honor to be No. 1, even for a short time, but it carries with it a lot of pressure. If Kaymer takes hold of it, we can all watch how he deals with the attention and the change of expectations. He's got one of the best swings in the game, and winning the PGA was a huge step.

Rory McIlroy is right up there with Kaymer in terms of ability and upside. Don't forget about Tiger, either. If the swing changes he's making are going as well as his teacher says they are, he should dominate again, right?

haney

Photo by J.D. Cuban