Faulty alignment can ruin your shot before you swing the club. Aiming the body somewhere other than parallel to the target makes a good swing bad and a bad swing worse.
Learning to align yourself properly doesn't require physical skill or years of experience, just care.
Learn What Square Is
You may know that proper alignment means setting your feet, knees, hips, shoulders, and clubface square to the target line. But do you know what it feels like? Maybe not. It's very common for amateurs (and pros, too) to drift or twist themselves unknowingly into faulty alignment positions. That's why it's crucial that your body recognizes how square feels.
Lay a club on the ground and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, parallel to the shaft. Take another club and make an imaginary address position: knees flexed, bent forward slightly from the hips, back straight, arms hanging from shoulders. Without changing your body position, lay the club in your hands across your knees. Is it parallel to the club on the ground? It should be. Do the same for your hips and shoulders; this will show if your body has a "feel" for setting up square.
Good alignment starts with the clubface; get that square and the rest of your body will follow more easily. Begin by standing behind the ball, on a straight line with the target. To make squaring the clubface easier, pick a spot-a leaf, divot, whatever-that's on the target line and no more than a couple feet in front of the ball. This is your target during the set-up. Walk around and put the club behind the ball so the clubface is perpendicular to the target line, facing the intermediate spot you chose.
Take your grip, then align your feet perpendicular to the clubface and parallel to the target line. Once your feet are square, your knees, hips, and shoulders should fall into place. Check yourself against the intermediate target and the actual target, then swing away.
Private Lessons 1999 Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.