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SweetPotatoIQ

Quest to Break 100 - Major Alignment Issues

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(Scroll to bottom for the abridged story/question)

I'm 32 years old and would still consider myself a relatively new golfer based off of total time played.  I've played on and off over the past 15 years, but never more than a few rounds in a year.  Many years with 0 rounds.  I'm certainly above average health/fitness and have always been decently athletic/coordinated.  Unfortunately, golf has always eluded me.  Any raw athletic skill never translated to the golf course and I never put in the proper effort to learn the right way.

Before today, last time I had played was so out of this world bad (picking up ball on most holes) that I decided I had enough and would actually spend some time trying to learn the fundamentals rather than simply going to the course and hacking away with fingers crossed. 

So I've set a goal to break 100 even though I'd say more often than not by the time I'm on the back 9 I'm picking up balls and only playing select shots to keep pace of play up with others.  I don't care about hitting it far.  I don't need to go for the green from 180 out.  I just want to be able to stay in the bogie/double bogie range each hole.  Conservative play is more than fine by me.

I watched a few YouTube videos and took some notes.  I gathered a few concepts that seemed to be consistent among the tutorials and worked on some dry swings each night over the past couple weeks.  I purchased some birdieballs and started to practice outside.  I was pretty happy with my results.  I kept the swing slow and controlled around 2/3rds power and I was relatively consistent with my grip, stance, swing plane, etc.  I then hit the driving range and I was again pretty happy with the results.  Very few "hole killer" type shots.  Most of the mishits would still have been playable.

Decided to walk a local course today.  The plan was to only use 6i-Wedges the entire course and take a very risk averse approach.  After 6 holes I was at +11.   Obviously not good, but I was feeling much better than last time.  I had no single shots that were hole killers.  Plenty of poor shots, but the ball was typically headed in the right direction.  With that said, I did start with a triple and then a quadruple boggie.  A few skulled chips and 3 putts.  Things I had not been practicing.  I'll need to work on this.  But I was safely getting my ball from the tee box to the green.  I then followed up with three straight 5s which net a double bogie, bogie, then a par.  I felt like I was hitting my stride and finally figuring things out.

Then.....the wheels completely came off.  Maybe it was fatigue starting to set it?  I run 15-20 miles a week, but I never walk golf.  Who knows.  But I can say one thing for certain.  I had MAJOR alignment issues to the point that every shot began to feel uncomfortable.  I was trying to get myself lined up and I never felt right.  I finally would have to swing to keep the game going, but knew that each swing felt rushed and awkward.  If the hole was 120 yards away with danger to the left side of the green, I would attempt to line up and aim short and to the right side of the green.  I'd pick a spot out in the distance to aim for and then something closer as well.  But when I approached the ball and set my feet I was never able to get completely comfortable.  I would attempt to realign myself, even placing a club at my feet to help line them up towards my target.  But then I would feel like my hands and club was no longer positioned properly in my stance.  Then I'd feel off balance.  I'd try to adjust, but once I looked up I felt like my body was positioned completely different than where I had intended.  I'd begin to lose the feel of the proper back swing plane since my mind did not feel like it was properly squared up with the ball.  On the down swing it was like my mind was saying "Nope!  You're aimed way too far to the right, we're going to modify your swing path and club face for you to get the ball where you really want it to go." This led to almost all of my shots being pulled hard to the left (I'm a righty).  After a few holes of trying to correct this issue, I had completely lost my way.  I was swinging and missing, hitting the ball more sideways than forward, etc.

To add, I also notice I have this issue at the driving range.  For instance, standing on the green mat, if I want to aim straight out, but maybe the green mat is angled off to the right, it completely messes with my alignment perception.  When I look down and see that my feet are not parallel to outer edge, my mind makes me feel like I'm not squared up properly and my swing will be completely out of whack.

Any suggestions to work through this alignment issue?

TLDR: New golfer.  Trying to break 100.  Major issues with my alignment.  After about 6-7 holes last time out, each time I appraoched the ball I was never comfortable.  I always felt like I was misaligned.  I never felt like my club was aligned in my stance which would mess with my swing plane.  My mind would attempt to adjust what it felt was an off center shot in the downswing and end up viciously pulling the ball.  Anyone else have these issue where they don't feel like they're properly aligned with their target and they can't get their arms and legs properly set?

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If you are lining up to compensate for a slice...you are putting the cart before the horse.  Stand behind the ball and pick out a line.  Pick out something a foot or so in front of the ball for reference.  Walk around to the side and address the ball.  Line up so that, when taking a practice swing, the club head travels along the path you have selected.  It only takes one or two.  Step up and swing thru the ball...instead of at it.  Rinse and repeat.  

Breaking 100 is not difficult.  It does not require extraordinary skill.  It does require that you calm down and stop thinking about everything that can go wrong and pay attention to the few things you have to get right.  Average less than 5.55 shots per hole and you are there.  Bogey a par 3 and you pick up a shot and a half.

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10 minutes ago, Piz said:

If you are lining up to compensate for a slice...you are putting the cart before the horse.  Stand behind the ball and pick out a line.  Pick out something a foot or so in front of the ball for reference.  Walk around to the side and address the ball.  Line up so that, when taking a practice swing, the club head travels along the path you have selected.  It only takes one or two.  Step up and swing thru the ball...instead of at it.  Rinse and repeat.  

Breaking 100 is not difficult.  It does not require extraordinary skill.  It does require that you calm down and stop thinking about everything that can go wrong and pay attention to the few things you have to get right.  Average less than 5.55 shots per hole and you are there.  Bogey a par 3 and you pick up a shot and a half.

The problem is, I'm not trying to compensate for anything.

I simply have a mental block at times when it comes to alignment.  The best example I can give is the one at the driving range.  If I'm aiming at a pin that's off to the right, the moment I move my feet from being parallel to the end of the pad, it throws me off.  The end of the pad means nothing to the shot, but my mind feels that my feet should be aligned to that.  So when they're not, it becomes difficult for me to get everything else in order.

Clearly a visual/mental issue I'm facing here, and hard to articulate to someone who does not experience this issue.

Edited by SweetPotatoIQ

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38 minutes ago, SweetPotatoIQ said:

The problem is, I'm not trying to compensate for anything.

I simply have a mental block at times when it comes to alignment.  The best example I can give is the one at the driving range.  If I'm aiming at a pin that's off to the right, the moment I move my feet from being parallel to the end of the pad, it throws me off.  The end of the pad means nothing to the shot, but my mind feels that my feet should be aligned to that.  So when they're not, it becomes difficult for me to get everything else in order.

Clearly a visual/mental issue I'm facing here, and hard to articulate to someone who does not experience this issue.

I know and experience exactly the same thing. I’ve had it all my life as long as I can remember. I call it ‘spatial dyslexia.’ It affects my green reading as well. I’ve had to pick a line from behind the ball and learn to trust I’m aligned and ignore that warm and uncomfortable blanket around me feeling that I’m all out of alignment. 

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Alignment is a big deal for me too. If align myself wrong, it's bad boogie all the way. Accurate alignment saves me a ton of strokes. I have to be constantly paying attention to my alignment. I practice my alignment several times a week. 

My own practice routine for proper alignment goes like this:

After I get my target, I put my two metal yard sticks on the on the ground. One is in line with the ball line to the target. The other yard stick is parallel to ball line yard stick. The second one is where my toes go in my square stance. That's the set up, but not really the practice part. 

The practice part is what I see when I take one last look at the target efore starting my take away. Constant practice has given me a visual picture of the target, in relation to my left shoulder. Since I am aligned properly, that relationship between my shoulder and the target never changes. It's fixed in my brain as to what I should see. It's a repeatable picture so to speak. 

Once on the course where the yard sticks are not available, as long as I see that same relationship between my shoulder, and the target, I know I am aligned correctly for that shot. If the relationship. between the two looks cockeyed, I know something is wrong in my alignment. I then step out of my stance and start over. 

Probably sounds corny, but for me it helps to keep me in the fairway, and/or on target more times than not. 

 

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24 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

I know and experience exactly the same thing. I’ve had it all my life as long as I can remember. I call it ‘spatial dyslexia.’ It affects my green reading as well. I’ve had to pick a line from behind the ball and learn to trust I’m aligned and ignore that warm and uncomfortable blanket around me feeling that I’m all out of alignment. 

I'm going to hope it's just me losing focus and not something more severe like this.

But that warm and uncomfortable blanket comment really resonates with me.  I see something in my vicinity that I feel I should be aligned with and it wreaks havoc with my ability to properly square up.  Then I feel like my club in not synced with my foot alignment.  But I can't get the club to line up with the feet so I move the feet.  Then my line is off and i have to start again.  Rinse and repeat.  What a mess!

 

12 minutes ago, Patch said:

Alignment is a big deal for me too. If align myself wrong, it's bad boogie all the way. Accurate alignment saves me a ton of strokes. I have to be constantly paying attention to my alignment. I practice my alignment several times a week. 

My own practice routine for proper alignment goes like this:

After I get my target, I put my two metal yard sticks on the on the ground. One is in line with the ball line to the target. The other yard stick is parallel to ball line yard stick. The second one is where my toes go in my square stance. That's the set up, but not really the practice part. 

The practice part is what I see when I take one last look at the target efore starting my take away. Constant practice has given me a visual picture of the target, in relation to my left shoulder. Since I am aligned properly, that relationship between my shoulder and the target never changes. It's fixed in my brain as to what I should see. It's a repeatable picture so to speak. 

Once on the course where the yard sticks are not available, as long as I see that same relationship between my shoulder, and the target, I know I am aligned correctly for that shot. If the relationship. between the two looks cockeyed, I know something is wrong in my alignment. I then step out of my stance and start over. 

Probably sounds corny, but for me it helps to keep me in the fairway, and/or on target more times than not. 

 

 

Love it.

I will see what if there's something I can pick out from my stance and use this as a measure of proper alignment.  I could certainly see this helping.

 

Edited by SweetPotatoIQ

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I would add to the advice above, film your set up and alignment. You may be altering your alignment when you setting down. Years ago I found I was shifting my rear foot forward a bit making me align left. I then practiced not doing that with alignment sticks and filming my set up.

Filming your swing is also a great way to get better. Start a My Swing thread in the Member Swings section and folks will help you improve.

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8 hours ago, Patch said:

Once on the course where the yard sticks are not available, as long as I see that same relationship between my shoulder, and the target, I know I am aligned correctly for that shot. If the relationship. between the two looks cockeyed, I know something is wrong in my alignment. I then step out of my stance and start over. 

Yes...It's all in the setup, doing the same thing every time. Best, -Marv

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I have noticed that sometimes the tee box markers are not aligned to the fairway. I have to consciously not look at the markers when setting up to the ball, rather I pick a particular target down the fairway to aim at. I have learned to use my right shoulder as my alignment tool. Now if I could only execute a straight shot I'd be in business. 

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On 7/26/2019 at 10:31 PM, SweetPotatoIQ said:

The problem is, I'm not trying to compensate for anything.

I simply have a mental block at times when it comes to alignment.  The best example I can give is the one at the driving range.  If I'm aiming at a pin that's off to the right, the moment I move my feet from being parallel to the end of the pad, it throws me off.  The end of the pad means nothing to the shot, but my mind feels that my feet should be aligned to that.  So when they're not, it becomes difficult for me to get everything else in order.

Clearly a visual/mental issue I'm facing here, and hard to articulate to someone who does not experience this issue.

Do you have access to a grass range? Mats are great for where grass can't grow, but they alter the shot itself; and in your case it seems, your mind as well.

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Breaking 100 is a fine goal.  But if you are having fundamental issues, set an intermediate goal.  If you are primarily concerned with pointing the right way, your goal should relate to that.  If score is the issue, make a goal of that sort.  Right now, your desires are schizophrenic.

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I remember a couple of years ago I felt I was never going to break 100, it was on my mind so often! Keep playing, maybe get a few lessons and it will come and once you get down there the 90's cards will come thick and fast, good luck

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11 hours ago, Cantankerish said:

Breaking 100 is a fine goal.  But if you are having fundamental issues, set an intermediate goal.  If you are primarily concerned with pointing the right way, your goal should relate to that.  If score is the issue, make a goal of that sort.  Right now, your desires are schizophrenic.

I think schizophrenic is a bit harsh! :-P

I don't see breaking 100 in and of itself as something you can work at.  It's simply our metric for keeping score.  Specific refinements to our game are things we can work on and are what ultimately lead to a decrease in score. 

For me, breaking 100 would mean I've gotten past a few fundamental flaws with my game, primarily my alignment issues.  So that's my goal.  Fix my alignment issues.  Breaking 100 would hopefully follow suit.

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Okay, right.  So you have done it.  There are ways to break 100 without actually learning much of anything about this game.  You have chosen the road you probably should, which makes a lower score a byproduct rather than a goal.  This was my request.

 

Your solution may be as simple as putting a club along your toes as you address the ball.  Google "alignment stick" to see it done, but the principle is super simple.

 

That said, there is this one hole on my home course, the 18h. It is a short par 4 across two lateral water hazards that the designer seeks to insist you lay up between.  Naturally I am having none of that (maybe 210 to carry both from the back tees) .  But the fairway is also narrow and it doglegs left in a sneaky, illusive manner, and gently uphill.  Finally, the tee boxes line up as if you are laying up, so you have to address at an awkward angle. All this adds up to a drive that you have to thread the needle for, starting in your head.  You have to disregard the typical cues that we are accustomed to a hole giving us and aim at the trees, well left of the apparent landing zone.  I know this, and I still screw it up constantly.  Damnit.  You may be experiencing some of the same.

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