How well do regular golfers align themselves off the tee? How important is it?
At the range, you would be hard pressed not to see a tour player using alignment sticks while hitting shots. At the club range, you would be hard pressed to see ANY regular golfers using alignment sticks. Why is this? You would think it would be the other way around. You would think that tour players who have hit so many balls and so many shots would automatically line up every shot correctly. The amateur golfer, who doesn’t practice like the pros, would want to make sure they are aligned properly. But this is not what is happening. If the best players in the world use alignment aids during practice, why would we regular golfers feel that we don’t need them? We are so worried about our swings getting better we leave the most important aspect of the game off the table actually making our swings worse.
Without proper alignment, the shot cannot be on target.
Improper alignment among amateurs leads to the majority of missed shots. Improper alignment ultimately results in many of the swing faults. If alignment is off, and the miss is to the right, the golfer adjusts by aiming more left creating a greater slice.
An error in alignment of ONE degree on a 200 yard shot results in an error of 3.5 yards. An error in alignment of FIVE degrees results in an error of 17 yards (that's the width of some greens). That's a huge error!! Mis-align by 5 degrees on a 20 foot putt creates an error of 21 inches at the hole. If you can't align properly, how can you ever hit your target? How much is five degrees? See diagram.
The vast majority of right handed swingers align too far to the right. Likewise the vast majority of left handed swingers align too far to the left. Since the object is always to hit the ball towards the hole, these golfers have unconsciously modified their swings, to the best of their abilities, to get the ball on line even though they're grossly misaligned. They have created compensations in their swings and putting strokes, making them more complex, ineffective and hard to repeat.
According to the PGA of America:
“Alignment is arguably one of the most important parts of your basic golf set-up. Over 95% of all "swing flaws" are traceable to a set-up position. Improperly aiming to your target can cause a good majority of those flaws. Without proper alignment, your body receives mixed signals from your brain, in relation to your body position and your intended target.”