Alignment sticks are useful training aids that enable you to work on all facets of your game.
From ball position to swing plane to hip rotation drills, you can use it for most parts of your game. My mission is to provide the 10 best golf alignment stick drills to help extract maximum value from your training aid.
If you don’t yet have a set of alignment sticks, I have found this one from Callaway offers excellent value for money. Plus, they are durable, versatile, and will run you less than $20.
This set includes two 48-inch alignment sticks that can be configured multiple ways to help straighten your swing and improve your golf game. This training aid will help teach key fundamentals of set-up and ball striking, including alignment, ball position, and swing plane.
Table of Contents
1. Basic Alignment
Let me start with a basic drill for a beginner, to ensure that you are aiming along your target line.
When you are in your hitting bay at the driving range, pick out a target and point at it with one alignment stick. Next, place the stick on the ground, and ensure that it is aimed at your target. Finally, place the ball no more than 2 inches behind the rod.
Therefore, your ball is now set up to launch towards your target. Once that is complete, get into your stance position, and make sure that your feet aim parallel to your target.
At this point, you should be ready to execute your golf swing. Your ball should land near the target if you execute the shot correctly. However, an incorrect swing path or off-center strike can send your ball off line, even if your alignment was on point.
2. Ball Position
Keep the training aid in the same position you had it for the first drill, and place a second alignment stick to face you.
You need to relocate the second stick according to the club you have in hand. For example, if you use a driver off the tee, the second alignment stick should remain aligned with your front heel.
Conversely, if you are playing a long iron shot, you will position the stick in the front center of your stance. In addition, the ball should be in the middle of your feet for short iron or wedges.
You can perfect this element of your game by reading our guide on the 5 simple steps to a perfect stance.
3. Swing Plane Drill
The swing plane drill is a common and simple exercise that helps amateur golfers and professionals improve their swing plane. Keep one of your golf alignment sticks pointed at your target. Stick the other rod into the ground and angle it parallel to your club shaft.
The second stick should stand 12 inches back of the alignment rod and 2-inches inside. Michigan-based instructor Stephanie Wagemann provides a reliable visual aid to guide you through this drill:
Start your takeaway after you are setup and aiming at your target area. Your clubhead and hosel should collide with the top of the angled rod halfway through your backswing. It then follows the line up to the top of your swing.
As the club comes down towards the ball, it follows the angle of the leaning stick to guide your club on the plane.
When your club is on plane, you stand a higher chance of squaring your face up at impact. That reduces side spin and promotes straighter shots. This drill will help you enjoy consistency in your swing and accuracy.
4. Putting Alignment
Here is a drill to optimize your accuracy with a putter. Before you set up, you need to read the break and speed the green’s speed. I suggest that you stroke 10 putts to figure out the line and pace of your putt.
If the putt breaks, point the alignment rod at that spot. Follow that up by placing your ball a maximum of 2 inches in front of the stick. Ensure that your feet aim parallel to the breakpoint, and start putting.
The putting alignment exercise helps you master your setup on the practice green to start your golf ball on its intended line.
5. Putting Pace
Another drill that you can use golf alignment sticks for is to improve your putting pace on long putts. Amateurs often implode when tackling a putt beyond 20 feet. We either leave it too short or ram it well past the hole, leaving little chance to drain the return putt.
This drill pushes you to be more aggressive on your putts so that they pass the hole. However, it helps you control your miss and leaves the ball no further than two feet past the cup.
Place a golf alignment stick two feet behind the hole, and start putting from 20 feet away. Hit 10 putts, and make sure that they pass the flag by no more than 2 feet. If you leave any putts short of the cup, they don’t count, and neither do shots that are further than 2 feet after the hole.
When you get 6 balls into the zone or cup, you have passed the drill and can proceed to the next level.
Position yourself 30 feet from the cup, and repeat the process. Once you putt 6 out of 10 balls into the target zone, proceed to putt from 40 feet, then 50 feet.
By employing this drill into your practice routine, you will stop leaving putts short and have more control on the green. If your putting generally lets you down, these 8 putting drills should improve your luck.
6. Bunker Striking
The alignment sticks are only used to set up for this lesson. Grab one rod and draw 2 lines that are 2 inches apart. These lines should run towards you. The front line is where your golf balls will be placed. Conversely, the black line highlights where your clubface should strike the ground.
With bunker shots, you need to catch the sand about 1.5 inches behind the ball. That helps the clubface get under the ball to send it into the air and out the trap.
Focus on striking the back line with your clubface and let the bounce of your wedge do the rest of the work. This drill is a game-changer for ball-striking confidence out the trap and works to improve your up and down record.
Be sure to aim to the left of your target when setting up to account for your open clubface. That way, you will see better distance and accuracy results.
7. Ball Striking
I have taught you how to improve your ball striking in the bunker. This drill aims to optimize your long and mid-game distance and accuracy.
Place an alignment stick down facing away from you and position your ball 2 inches in front of the rod. The stick should be further forward in your stance for tee shots than for strikes off the fairway or rough.
The aim is for your low point of the swing to occur once the clubhead passes the stick. If your clubhead hits the rod, either your clubhead is off plane, or the ball is too far forward in your stance. Take a few practice swings and make sure that you get your club on plane to strike the ball cleanly.
8. Shot Shaping
This is a favorite of mine. You can use your alignment sticks to work on your shot shape. It helps beginners hit straighter shots, and superior golfers induce healthier draws and fades.
High handicappers looking to hit straighter shots can set up the two rods 13 feet in front of you and 3 feet apart. Hit ten shots and try launching the ball between the poles consistently to develop consistently straight ball flight.
Those players who are after a draw or fade can set up one alignment stick 13 feet in front of you. If you wish to practice a draw, your goal is to start the ball to the right of the rod and shape it back towards your target line. Conversely, start the ball left of the rod if you intend to fade it back towards your target.
Once you achieve 6 out of 10 shots in your target direction, switch to practicing other shapes. The ability to shape the ball helps you escape trouble on the golf course and boosts your scrambling percentage.
9. Train Tracks Drill
The Train Tracks drill is another popular exercise that helps you keep your clubhead on the path. Simply place 2 alignment sticks down facing your target, 18 inches apart, creating a lane.
Next, set your ball down 2 inches in front of the back rod and position your clubface behind the ball.
Your mission is to keep your clubhead in the lane on your takeaway and follow through. Employing this formula encourages you to maintain a neutral path and a squared-up clubface. This combination helps you deliver straighter shots for superior accuracy.
Besides your long game, the train tracks drill can be implemented in your putting training. If your putter head is moving all over the place during your stroke, the lanes can help you improve your control and consistency.
10. Weight Transition
The final golf alignment stick drill to focus on has to do with weight transition. Even if your alignment, ball striking, and swing plane are on point, you could ruin your shot due to lack of rotation.
Place an alignment rod into the ground less than an inch alongside your lead hip. Once you strike the ball and clear your hips, your weight should rest on your lead leg. The aim for you is to generate optimal hip turn during your shots so that your lead hip brushes the rod on your follow-through.
If your hip does not touch the alignment stick, you did not sufficiently rotate them. That could lead to a loss of distance and accuracy.
Similarly, when your hips touch the rod before you’ve struck the ball, you cleared them too early. As a result, you could hook your shot.
We have an entire guide dedicated to optimizing hip turn in your golf swing. I suggest familiarizing yourself with the concept before taking on this drill.