(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?