12 Golf Alignment Stick Drills To Improve Your Game

alignment stick drills

Meet Jake

Jake was a competitive golfer for over a decade dating back to the days of being the Captain of his high school golf team. He has played more than 200 courses across 32 different states in the US. Now semi-retired, Jake continues to golf 3-4 days a week with a current 2 handicap, gives golf lessons to his friends and family, and provides a wealth of knowledge to Golf Circuit from his competitive playing days. Jake combines practical expertise with technical knowledge to create golfing strategies and training techniques for both beginners and scratch golfers.

Alignment sticks are some of the simplest and easiest training tools in golf, and while most people think they are only good for checking and working with your target and body alignment, there are a lot of other drills you can do to improve various aspects. Of your game!

Alignment sticks can help to improve weight shift, simple alignment, and keeping your clubhead on the path as well as bunker striking, shot shaping  and stopping the slice, offering every golfer a versatile tool for game improvements at the range or home!

Let’s grab your sticks ( or buy some if you don’t have any), head out to the range or your backyard, and check out these six great alignment stick drills that will help you improve your game today!

Check out our post on the best alignment sticks if you need to pick some up!

Alignment Stick Exercise #1 – Curing The Slice

Slicing is a major problem with many golfers, and while there are countless remedies, this simple drill using an alignment stick is a great way to understand and prevent the mechanics that cause the slice in the first place.

The slice is caused when the trailing arm in the golf swing isn’t pushing through enough, and the leading arm pulls the club too hard through the strike zone, causing the clubface to open at impact, and presto! The slice!

How To Do The Drill

  1. Take an alignment stick and push it into the ground, then take your swing posture next to it.
  2. Make your swing with your hands and as you come through the downswing, push down onto the stick with your trailing palm.

Then take your club and repeat that same action when you hit a ball – if you’re doing it right, you’ll hit it straighter and with more power too! 

Alignment Stick Exercise #2 – Weight Shift

Another big issue with weekend golfers is that they struggle to shift their weight through the swing and into the hitting side, so this exercise will help you move your weight through the swing.

Even though another aspect of your swing may be good, poor rotation can lead to inconsistent striking and direction.

How To Do The Drill

  1. Setup the alignment stick less than an inch away from your leading hip – so for a right-handed golfer, this would be on the left hip and vice versa for a left-handed golfer.
  2. The goal is to have the leading hip brush the alignment stick as you swing and rotate.

If you don’t, that means you haven’t rotated properly, or if you strike the stick before you hit the ball, you’ve turned too early. Using this drill will improve the timing of the weight shift and give you better rotation through your swing.

Alignment Stick Exercise #3 – Shot Shaping 

This exercise will work for high-handicap players looking to hit consistently straighter shots and low handicappers who want to shape the ball.

How To Do The Drill

  1. Set the alignment sticks about 13 feet in front of you and about 3 feet apart. See how many you can get between them.
  2. Then to work on hitting straigther shots, try and hit the ball between the sticks for ten shots.
  3. For low-handicap players looking to shape shots, set the sticks up the same way.
  4. Then, for the draw, try and launch the ball on the right side of the alignment sticks and move it back left and for the fade, look to launch the ball on the left side and bring it back right.

Alignment Stick Drill #4 – Keeping The Clubface On The Swing Path 

This is another consistent behavior for high, mid and even low handicap players, but using this alignment stick drill will certainly help improve that aspect of your swing.

This exercise is known as the ‘Train Track Drill,’ which is how you do it.

How To Do The Drill

  1. Set the alignment sticks to your target line and place them about 18 inches apart.
  2. Then set the ball about 2 inches away from the back alignment stick (the one closest to you) and place your club head behind the ball.
  3. Make your swing and focus on keeping your clubhead inside the track lane on your takeaway and downswing. This gives you a great and clear visual representation of the clubface path through the strike zone, and you will see an improvement in both striking and direction if you can keep the clubface on the swing path.

Alignment Stick Exercise #5 – Ball Striking In The Bunker

alignment stick drill in the bunker

The alignment sticks will be used in this drill to set the lines up in the bunker.

???? See our article on the best club to use in a bunker.

How To Do The Drill

  1. Take one post and draw two lines parallel to each, about 2 inches apart and leading away from you at 90 degrees.
  2. The front line will be where the ball is, and the back line represents the striking point for the clubface.
  3. Because you need to strike the ball about 1.5 inches behind it in the sand, you will focus on hitting the back line with the clubface and allowing the wedge bounce to do the rest.

You can do this with or without the ball for variation and focus on consistently making contact with the back line before adding the ball.

Alignment Stick Drill #6 – Basic Alignment 

This is a fundamental skill to playing consistently good golf, and getting your alignment correct will mean more shots on target on the course and the range.

How To Do The Drill

  1. Pick your target line and then set the alignment stick facing your target.
  2. Place the ball about 2 inches before the stick, then set your stance.
  3. Using the stick as a guide, check that your feet, clubhead, shoulders, and hips are aligned to the target by checking them against the stick.

You can, of course, use more than one stick here, with one for the feet and one for the club head, and then use another post against your shoulders to ensure all three are properly aligned to the target. 

This is particularly insightful as often, golfers think they are aligned, and when using this exercise, they find that their hips or shoulders are either pointing right or left of their intended target line.

Practice this until you can achieve consistent alignment without them. This will increase your confidence in the course and the range and enable you to hit more consistently accurate shots.

Alignment Stick Exercise #7 – The Narrow Path Drill

Like the train track drill above, this exercise is another focused drill to keep your clubhead on the right path.

How To Do The Drill

  1. Take alignment stick that was sitting on your toes in the ‘Train Track Drill’ and move it closer to the ball.
  2. There should be a one inch gap between the ball and the stick and place the other alignment stick on the other side of the ball also one inch away. This will create the ‘Narrow Path’ for the clubhead. 
  3. When swinging make sure that your clubhead stays between the sticks and that the divot (if you take one) travels down that same path.This will give you the feel of the clubhead travelling on the right path to the ball.

If your club hits one of the sticks, you can then see on which plane your club is travelling (in-out /out-in) and work on getting the clubhead path more consistent.

Alignment Stick Drill #8 – The Takeaway Drill 

One of the biggest issues with amateur golfers is the takeaway on the backswing.

This is often done fast and ends up taken inside the target line instead of extending the clubhead along the target line for as long as possible before turning the shoulders.

How To Do The Drill

  1. Using your alignment sticks, place one stick directly behind the ball and make sure it is on the target line.
  2. When you make the takeaway with the club you’re swinging, use the stick as the takeaway guideline and ensure the cliubhead travels over it on the backswing.
  3. Keep the club low and take it back slowly – there is no rule that says your backswing has to be fast!

This exercise will help you keep the clubhead on the target line and help you hit straighter shots more often. You may even hit a stinger!

Alignment Stick Drill #9 – The Downward Strike Drill

Many golfers complain about hitting the ground before the ball which has a big impact on your ball striking.

Here is an exercise that will certainly help with improving the impact points in your shots.

How To Do The Drill

  1. Take your alignment stick and place it about an inch behind the ball and have it perpendicular to the target line.
  2. Once this is in place, set the ball up in front of the alignment stick and take your swing.
  3. If you don’t hit the stick, then your downward strike is where it should be , however, if you hit the stick before you hit the ball, then you know that you are striking the ground first and you can work to improve the downward strike on your swing. 

When doing this exercise, you need to remember that if you hit the stick with your club, it could possibly break and make sure you have secured the stick on the ground as it could fly up into your face should you hit it.

Alignment Stick Drill #10 – Aim And Ball Flight Drill

This is a great alignment stick drill and it gives you an amazing insight into the ball flight and line after it leaves your club.

How To Do The Drill

Place an alignment stick in the ground about 5-10 feet in front of your ball and aligned to the target line and then hit balls at the stick. This is an excellent visual guide to see not only the line of the ball, but the ball flight.

Alignment Stick Exercise #10 – Variation 1 

As an additional option on this drill, place a second stick in the ground to create a pathway. You can position this one at different distances from the first stick, giving you wider and narrower flight paths.

Practice hitting the ball through the gap between them on a straight line and this will help you achieve more consistent accuracy with all your clubs.

Alignment Stick Exercise #10 – Variation 2 – Shaping 

For more advanced players, try shaping the ball around the stick instead of hitting it. So set up the exercise the same way, but instead of trying to hit the stick, try and draw or fade the ball around the stick.

This alignment stick drill will give you great visual tracking of your ball flight and shot shape.

Alignment Stick Exercise #11 – Ball Position

Another big problem that amateur golfers struggle with is the correct ball position and this alignment stick drill will help you become more confident when it comes to ball position in the stance.

How To Do The Drill

With your golf ball on the ground, lay one stick inside the ball along the target line, then place the second stick behind the golf ball perpendicular to your body. This will form a ‘T’ shape on the ground.

With the second stick running between your legs giving you the ‘true’ position of the ball in your swing rather then the ‘perceived position’ of the ball which is what leads to the confusion in the first place.

Alignment Stick Exercise #12 – The Putting Path Drill 

Here is another simple but effective alignment stick drill that achieves a number of key goals when putting. It will keep your putter head travelling in a straight line to the hole and you will be able to see if your putter deviates during the stroke at all.

It also gets you the image of seeing the ball travel to the hole and go in – something that many golfers don’t always do and that is staying down after hitting the putt and watching it go into the hole.

How To Do The Drill

  1. To do this drill, find a hole on the putting green (can also be an indoor putting green) that is flat and set your putter on the ground aligned to the hole.
  2. Then set the alignment sticks just outside the heel and toe of the putter so it forms a path or channel to the hole.
  3. Set, the ball down in front of the putter and make the stroke.
  4. You should see the ball travel down the path created by the alignment sticks and drop into the hole.

If the ball hits the alignment sticks, you will know you’ve either pushed or pulled the stroke and you can correct it on the next putt.

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