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deekay

What is "parallel left?"

15 posts in this topic

Hi all,

I struggle with alignment, and often see the term “parallel left.” What does that mean? What is “parallel left?”

The railway line illustration is often used to explain this, but every set of railway tracks I have every looked down always seem to narrow down to a single point in the distance. If this is “parallel left” then it would mean that at anything over about 150 yards my toe/shoulder line would be pointing directly at my target. That cannot be right, can it?

Whenever I watch the pros on TV, and the camera angle is from down-the-line, it appears as if their shoulders are pointing visually nearly as far left as their feet are from the ball. Over 150 yards, that is WAY left of target. Is that “parallel left”, because it sure isn’t truly parallel to anything?

We are told to set our feet/shoulders parallel to an imaginary line between the ball and an intermediate target, but doesn’t that get us back to those railway tracks again?

I would love to learn from others how they align themselves, and where their shoulders are pointing when properly lined up.

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My desired ball flight is a push draw. Thus I aim slightly right of my target, and try and swing out or right too. Please look at the ball flight laws. Understand what makes the ball curve. First is face. Then is path or swing direction. Thus, the answer is you aim based on the type of curve or shot you're trying to hit.
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Place an alignment stick in line with your ball on the ground that points directly at your target.

Place another alignment stick on the ground that is perfectly parallel to the first one at a distance that is appropriate for the club you're using, say 24" for a SW.

Your feet should be lined up with the second stick, generally speaking it is better to use your heels as a reference instead of your toes because varying amounts of foot flare can skew your toe line.

like this


The train tracks are not a very good analogy because people get confused by the illusion of the tracks converging in the distance, they obviously don't converge...

Also, as Beachcomber pointed out, correct alignment is very dependent on what shape of shot you are hitting and how you hit it. Beach plays a push draw and does so by aiming slightly right of the target (to get the push) and swinging farther right of where he is aiming (to get the draw). I play (or try to) a push draw as well but I aim at the target because when I swing farther right my clubface tends to get influenced a bit by the path and gets dragged a little to the right giving me the push component so, even though we are both going for the same shape we are going about it differently. Also, some people may play a push draw with their feet aligned parallel left of the target line and just open the face a tad at set-up, in this case the feet are not aligned with the clubface so...as you can see...alignment is not a fundamental, it is a preference based on your natural tendencies and how you play your shots.

Simple huh?

:blink:

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The problem with the railroad track analogy is, people will imagine the railroad tracks and they diminish into the distance. Most people wont aim there feet enough left. If you lay down two clubs parallel, and then look into the distance from were your feet point. It doesn't point slightly left of the target you want, visually it points way left depending on how far away you are from the hole. The way your eye's focus can distort things.

I think it just takes practice to get square like that. I have trouble with it.

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The parallel track thought has never worked form me.  Like you deekay, it doesn't make sense in my mind's eye. No matter how you line up its virtually impossible to line up exactly parallel and if you do, my eye sees exactly what you are talking about at any distance; aiming at the target. Even if you could theoretically aim parallel i f you are even just one degree off, at just 125 yard shot your aim would be about 7 feet off line .

I think the thing to do is not take the thought too literally.  You don't have to literally aim parallel to the target, but feel as though that is what you are doing.  Most importantly, if the thought does not work for you, don't use it. this is not an "absolute, everyone must do it this way" set-up.  Like all tips; it may work for your buddy, but not for you.

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Also, some players play best from slightly open or slightly closed stances. In general, I favor slightly open stances for better players, and slightly closed for higher handicap players.

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Would open stance, be feet open, or body open?

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Would open stance, be feet open, or body open?

Sometimes just feet, sometimes both.

Almost never is it "body open, feet square."

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Also, some players play best from slightly open or slightly closed stances. In general, I favor slightly open stances for better players, and slightly closed for higher handicap players.

Hi Erik,

First post here, can you elaborate more about why slightly open stances for better players.  As closed stance provides flexibility for backswing turn and open stance the other way, so why better players favor slightly open stances?  Is that they have no problem on the backswing and wants to hit a fade?  Thanks in advance.

Kin

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Simplest reason? They tend to get "stuck" a little more - they'll tend to deliver the clubhead from inside a little more often than they want to.

I play a draw from a slightly open stance. It helps me feel like I can swing "out" to the target a little more.

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Thanks for the comments, guys.

I am still interested in hearing what your alignment process is out on the course. Do you set your feet/shoulders parallel to the target line perhaps using an intermediate target? Or do you set your club face first, and then your feet/shoulders at 90 degrees "across" it? Or do you simply look at the target and then line your body up as far left as what seems good for you?

Ernest Jones' photo was obviously the correct alignment, but I am looking for a method I can reliably use. As a "weekender" talent and instinct is somewhat lacking!

Once again, thanks for the help so far.

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Thanks for the comments, guys. I am still interested in hearing what your alignment process is out on the course. Do you set your feet/shoulders parallel to the target line perhaps using an intermediate target? Or do you set your club face first, and then your feet/shoulders at 90 degrees "across" it? Or do you simply look at the target and then line your body up as far left as what seems good for you? Ernest Jones' photo was obviously the correct alignment, but I am looking for a method I can reliably use. As a "weekender" talent and instinct is somewhat lacking! Once again, thanks for the help so far.

I look for an intermediate target roughly 2' in front of my ball. Then I try to really see that line running through my ball, the intermediate target and finally the target. Then, without taking my eyes off the imaginary line, I walk around to the side and sole my club behind the ball making sure I'm square to my line. Once I get that done I align my feet parallel left to my visualized target line, lately I've started lining my feet and body up to a line that "feels" like its a touch open to (pointing left of) the line. I don't know if I'm actually setting up open or if I've finally started lining up better and haven't gotten used to the feeling, I'll have to lay down some sticks and see... The reason I've started to tweak my setup a bit is because my most common miss is a straight push and this setup change seems to help which is why I'm starting to suspect that I may have had an alignment issue that I was unaware of. Alignment can be trickier than one would suspect. Caveat - this what I do because it works with my shot shape and method for producing it. It may need to be tweaked for depending on your shape and tendencies but as a general guide the above is "how you do it".

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I look for an intermediate target roughly 2' in front of my ball. Then I try to really see that line running through my ball, the intermediate target and finally the target. Then, without taking my eyes off the imaginary line, I walk around to the side and sole my club behind the ball making sure I'm square to my line.

I do something very similar. I pick a spot a few feet out, square the club, and take my stance off of that line. I don't give it much thought after that, I just concentrate on the target.

When I use the alignment rods at the range, on well struck shots my ball will land near the target line or left of it. Anything that lands between the two rods is what I consider a good shot. I don't really see the train track analogy (it's more like a bowling lane) so the last few balls I will pick up the rods and use the intermediate spot.

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It astounds me how many people do not know how to accurately line up square with hips, shoulders, and feet truly parallel to the target. I observe good golfers all the time on the range with their fancy aiming sticks lining up incorrectly every day. I used to be one of those people - for a long long time. Until someone finally posed a logical question to me. Now many golfers see the 'railroad track' method described in many golf magazines. The lines appear to be perfectly parallel. But they're not even close. This is because whether you stand between them or on one line, parallel lines do NOT appear to be parallel in the distance. A players toes are, let's say, 36 inches from the clubhead. If you were to lay two ropes down, each 300 yards long, side by side, wouldn't they still be 36 inches apart out at the target? The lines above end up a good 20 yards apart. They look parallel, but they're not. Parallel lines appear to converge in the distance when you're standing between them. So when you lay your aiming stick down, you can basically just aim it at your target, and you'll never be more than a couple feet right. Your stick and address angles should never look left of the plane line. So unless you are playing a big pull cut on this hole, there is a chance you will line up improperly too.
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It astounds me how many people do not know how to accurately line up square with hips, shoulders, and feet truly parallel to the target. I observe good golfers all the time on the range with their fancy aiming sticks lining up incorrectly every day.

I used to be one of those people - for a long long time. Until someone finally posed a logical question to me.

Now many golfers see the 'railroad track' method described in many golf magazines. The lines appear to be perfectly parallel. But they're not even close.

This is because whether you stand between them or on one line, parallel lines do NOT appear to be parallel in the distance.

A players toes are, let's say, 36 inches from the clubhead. If you were to lay two ropes down, each 300 yards long, side by side, wouldn't they still be 36 inches apart out at the target?

The lines above end up a good 20 yards apart. They look parallel, but they're not.

Parallel lines appear to converge in the distance when you're standing between them.

So when you lay your aiming stick down, you can basically just aim it at your target, and you'll never be more than a couple feet right. Your stick and address angles should never look left of the plane line.

So unless you are playing a big pull cut on this hole, there is a chance you will line up improperly too.


That doesn't make any sense.

You can make two things parallel when they're three or four feet long. You're not gauging where they are 300 yards out, you're gauging where they are, right there at your feet.

Plus, very few people truly need to (or perhaps even should be) perfectly parallel. I prefer a slightly open stance (and play a draw).

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