Golf IQ

It's the 'foolproof' aiming method that's popular on tour. Here's how to do it

March 02, 2024

Lintao Zhang

Golf Digest’s Luke Kerr-Dineen, a scratch golfer, has a confession: “I am one of those amateur golfers who sucks at aiming,” he tells me on the latest episode of the Golf IQ podcast. Seeing that Luke is my work superior, please note that I mentioned he is a stick before highlighting his relatable observation about struggling with alignment (Full disclosure: I struggle with it, too.)

But I mention both facts because that is the lesson for all of us—even the best golfers struggle with consistently aiming properly. Of course, it takes practice to dial in our alignment, but more than anything, it takes a disciplined routine and process on the course to set up square to our target over and over.

The good news is, there is a easy-to-learn method that many tour players use as they are stepping into the ball that all but guarantees that they are lined up square. That’s what Luke and I discussed on this episode of the Golf IQ podcast, which you can listen to here.

The ‘foolproof’ aiming method

You will often hear pros talk about how they pick an “intermediate target” in front of their ball to ensure they are aligned properly. (Golf Digest Best in State Teacher Joe Plecker does a great job of breaking it down here.) The idea behind it is simple—it is easier to aim correctly at an object a few inches or feet in front of you versus hundreds of yards away.

Making sure the clubface is aimed properly is so important because even one or two degrees of misalignment can cause a poor shot. Adam Young, a Best in State Teacher, has found that when the clubface is open or closed one degree at impact, that can result in a miss of more than 10 yards. So, it’s crucial to not only get your feet and body set up square, but your clubface as well.

And as for your feet and body, if they are set up open or closed, your subconscious will make necessary compensations to try and get the ball to start online. If you are set up closed, your body will likely swing out over the top to try and get back on plane. The opposite can be true if you are set up open. You can’t have a consistent swing without a consistent setup. To take control of your alignment, you should try picking an intermediate target. Here's how to do it:

1. Stand behind the ball and trace a line from your target back to your ball.

2. Identify a spot in front of your ball that is on the line you traced. This is your intermediate target. Many players find a spot just a few inches in front of the ball, while others prefer to look a few feet out. Either works, but make sure this spot—a piece of grass, divot, leaf, etc.—is clearly identifiable.

3. Step into the shot and while looking at the spot, align your clubface with your intermediate target before you take your stance with your body.

4. Take your stance, making sure your feet, knees, hips and shoulders are all aimed square to your intermediate target.

5. Look up to see your real target. It is very important that you don’t peak at the target earlier in this process. If you’re not used to setting up properly, you might shuffle your feet open or closed to get comfortable. So, only look up at the target after guaranteeing that you are aligned to your intermediate target.

If you stay disciplined with this process and use it on every shot, you will all but guarantee that you are set up properly. You will be amazed that when you reach the final step and look up at your target, it will start to look the same every time. That is how you engrain the feeling of proper alignment.

So try it out and stay committed to it, as good alignment is a habit that takes time and consistent effort. You can listen to the full Golf IQ episode below, and be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.