Many golfers struggle to address the ball with their body properly squared, which is a fundamental element of the golf swing. The failure to properly line up the shoulders before swinging leaves a golfer susceptible to striking the ball with a misaligned clubhead, leading to shots missing the intended target.
Along with the hips and feet, the shoulders are a vital part of sending the ball on the proper trajectory. When addressing the ball, a golfer should place his clubhead behind the ball so that the head is running perpendicular to the desired target line (flight path of the ball), and the face of the club is pointing down the target line. When the clubhead is in place, the club is used to dictate the proper distance from the ball, and the feet, hips and shoulders are all aligned so that they are parallel with the target line. Even a minor deviation from parallel with your shoulders can lead to a significant alteration in the flight path of the ball.
Working the Ball
While parallel shoulders are the key to sending the ball on a straight line at the desired target, sometimes a golfer does not wish to hit the ball straight but instead needs to make the ball move from right to left or left to right to get around a bend in the fairway or past a hazard. To make a ball move from left to right, the lead shoulder is moved slightly in the direction that constitutes left when looking down the target line, along with the lead hip and foot. For a right-handed golfer, this means the lead shoulder is moved slightly away from the ball; for a lefty, the lead shoulder is moved slightly toward the ball. To hit a ball that moves right to left, the movements are reversed.
To determine the reason(s) behind stray shots, use a golf club to test the alignment of your body when addressing the ball. Gain the help of a partner to perform this drill. After addressing the ball in your stance as normal, have your partner place a golf club across the top of your back, shoulder to shoulder. With the club in place, the partner should look down the shaft to see if your shoulders are aligned parallel to the target line, or if you are skewed to the left or right.