Short Game

Learning the Ropes

By Sean Foley Photos by J.D. Cuban
November 13, 2014

Two pieces of rope, each about 25 feet long, and an alignment rod or clubshaft stuck in the ground on your target line. That's all you need to improve your accuracy in several ways. I see this simple practice station on PGA Tour ranges all the time.

First, it trains you to aim your body and clubface correctly. The rolling terrain, the quality of sunlight, even the way tee boxes are oriented on the course can play tricks on your eyes. Sometimes you think you're lined up to your target, but you're not. The ropes and alignment rod help get your eyes tracking down a target line instead of looking at an object in the distance, which is how a lot of aiming mistakes are made.

The second way the ropes help is improving your swing path. When you hit iron shots off the turf and take divots between the ropes, you can see whether your club's path was left, right or straight at impact. Then you can make adjustments to your swing and check it again.

Finally, when the ball is airborne, this practice station helps you see just how much your shots are curving. Are they consistently drawing or fading? Having that awareness will allow you to plan for and use your shot shape to hit your targets more often. You get all this information from 50 feet of rope and a stick. Not bad.

Sean Foley teaches at Orange County National near Orlando.