Alignment sticks have become an extremely popular training aid in recent years. So much so that companies have started manufacturing and selling them on their own. Before that, most golfers just bought a pair of snow poles from their local hardware store that did the trick. Now, you can even find alignment stick covers protect them.
Their rise in popularity isn’t super surprising though. They are incredibly simple yet provide significant value to a player.
As the name suggests, most players use the sticks to help with alignment, but that’s not all they can do.
There are a number of great drills you can practice to help improve different aspects of your game.
In this article, I’m going to go over ten great drills to help guide your practice with alignment sticks.
Alignment Stick Drills to Practice
The Train Tracks Drill
The first drill I’ll discuss is what I call the “train track” drill. Basically, this is the most common way people use alignment sticks. To do this drill:
- Simply lay one stick on the ground just outside the ball, so that it points directly at your target.
- Then, lay a second stick down, parallel to the first, so that both of your toes touch it at address.
These two sticks will form a “train track” that keeps your clubface, body, and swing path aligned in the same direction
The Narrow Path Drill
For this second drill,
- Simply take the stick that is laying across your toes (from “train track” drill above)
- Move it closer to the ball, so that there is a stick about 1 inch inside the ball and one stick 1 inch outside the ball.
This will create a narrow path, or train track, for your club to travel down. One of the biggest things I see with amateur golfers is that their swing path is to outside-in. This creates sidespin on the ball, which results in a slice.
With this narrow path, your goal is to hit golf balls so that your divot travels in the same direction of the narrow path. Having the alignment sticks as a visual aid during your swing will help you transition from a swing that is too outside-in (or inside-out), to one that is straight.
Three Parallel Lines Drill
In this third drill, you’ll need a friend to assist you.
- Keep one alignment stick on the ground, laying down your feet line.
- Then, have your friend take the second stick and hold it down your forearms and shoulders.
- Those two lines ought to be parallel to the alignment stick on the ground.
This will let you know if you are setting up in a position that is most natural and connected. Too often, amateur golfers twist and turn their shoulders or forearms. This creates a bunch of different muscles that are working against each other throughout the swing.
Your goal with this drill is simply to get set up in the correct position, so you can get aligned properly and start to hit the ball straight.
The Hip Bump Transition Drill
Next, the hip bump drill is one of my favorite drills. Especially for players who are graduating out of beginner status.
- This drill is where you put a stick vertically in the ground.
- It should be pushed down into the ground, so it can stand on its own.
- The stick ought to be situated just outside your front foot (left foot for a right-handed player).
- Then, when you hit balls, you want to bump your front hip towards the stick, so that you feel the weight transition forward through impact.
This will help you gain distance in your shots. If you struggle with hitting your irons, try this drill out. For more info on the transition, you can check out our full article.
This next takeaway drill is fairly simple, but effective.
- Lay an alignment stick on the ground behind the ball, so that it is directly on your target line.
Then, when you take your backswing, make sure you do two things:
- First, try to take your club head back slow and low to the ground, especially with your driver. You can use the alignment stick as a reference point and a place to keep your club head near.
- Next, you want to make sure your club doesn’t travel outside the stick. A takeaway that starts outside probably will not produce consistent straight shots.
Start your swing with a good takeaway and you’ll set yourself up for a straighter shot.
Downward Strike Drill
The downward strike drill is great for improving impact in irons.
- Lay an alignment stick down on the ground about 1 inch behind the ball and perpendicular to the target line.
Then, simply hit balls and work on hitting the ball first and then the ground.
- If you make solid impact, you won’t hit the stick.
- Be warned though, if you hit the stick solidly, you can break the alignment stick. Maybe that can be motivation to make sure you make correct contact though.
- Also, make sure the stick is in a location, so that it doesn’t fly up and hit you if you miss.
Ball Flight and Aim Drill
Our next drill will help primarily with ball flight and aiming.
- Put an alignment stick vertically into the ground about 5-10 feet in front of your ball, down the target line.
- Then, hit shots at the stick.
Having a visual aid in front of you will help you get comfortable with aiming correctly.
Also, you can use the alignment stick as a ball flight gauge. Try hitting shots to the right and left of the stick, both fading and drawing them to the target. This will really help you become more consistent with hitting different shots when you need to.
You can also put a second stick in the ground with varying distances between to work on hitting straight shots through a narrow target.
Swing Plane Drill
This is another one of my all-time favorites. I’ve always found that when I’m not hitting the ball well, this drill will get the ball going straight just about every time.
For a good drill to practice your swing plane and takeaway,
Put a stick in the ground at a 45-degree angle behind you.
- It ought to be about the same angle as your shaft at address.
- The stick ought to enter the ground a couple feet behind your back toe (not heel).
- Then, take some slow practice swings and feel the club traveling up and down the alignment stick.
This will keep your takeaway and your entire swing plane on the correct angle. A lot of players will naturally bring the club too far outside or inside that line, but you want the club to be directly on the alignment stick.
Make sure to check out our full article on the swing plane. I really do consider it to be one of the most important fundamentals.
The “T” Drill
A lot of amateur golfers struggle with ball position. Since ball position ought to change for almost every shot, it can be difficult to remember or get comfortable with all the different placements.
So, to get comfortable and use to the right spots,
- Lay one alignment stick on the ground, down the target line, just inside the golf ball.
- Then, lay another stick down on the ground, perpendicular to the first stick, so that they create a “T.”
- The second stick will be the one that lines up with the golf ball.
Having this second alignment stick running between your legs on the ground will help realize where the true ball position is in your stance. One of the reasons amateur golfers struggle so much is that they think the ball is in a location, but it’s actually not.
There’s a “perceived ball position” and a “true ball position.” This drill will help you learn the true ball position, so that you have more consistency.
Putting Path Drill
The final drill is great for putting. It’s very similar to the narrow path drill above, but this is on the putting green.
- Lay down two alignment sticks just off the toe and heel of your putter.
- Find a put on the practice green that is fairly short and straight to do this drill.
- You want to hit putts from one end of the alignment sticks and see the ball travel all the way down the sticks where the hole is located.
You’ll be practicing bringing the putter straight back and straight through impact. Make sure you mark a straight line on your golf ball, so that you can also line that up with the hole.
Then, if you get the path correct, you’ll notice that the putter head barely, if at ever, leaves the inside of the alignment sticks.
You’ll also be able to watch the line on your ball rotate perfectly straight all the way to the hole. This drill will really improve your putting consistency and overall roll.
The Bottom Line
If you don’t have a set of alignment sticks by now, go out and buy yourself a pair. We recommend these.
As you can see, they are incredibly helpful and can help fix a lot of different swing flaws. You can even buy several alignment sticks and practice a couple of these drills all at once. Carry them around in your bag and whip them out whenever you feel like your swing is a bit off and needs some correcting.