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Are Golf Alignment Sticks Useful? Why You Should Use Them

From the hackers to the pros, nearly everybody who has ever wielded a golf club is looking for that extra edge.

Almost every golfer (who isn’t loaded with cash, of course) is searching for cost-effective ways to improve their game and easy tricks to help refine their swing.

Enter the humble alignment stick.

You’ve all seen them: they’re those thin, colorful pieces of plastic that golfers lay in front of their feet while practicing at the driving range.

But while they look fancy, the question is: are golf alignment sticks useful?

Golf alignment sticks are cheap, light, easily transported in your bag and likely to make small, yet rapid improvements to your game. They ensure you are aligned to your target correctly when practicing, which is vital for grooving a solid, consistent golf swing.

In a nutshell, alignment sticks are extremely useful and should be a key component of any practice session.

Several golf pros swear by them and advocate for using an alignment stick whenever at the range.

If you don’t own one, you should – as it may well shave a stroke or two off your next round.

What do you do with golf alignment sticks?

Alignment sticks have several purposes, the key one being – obviously – alignment.

Watch any half decent golfer during a range session and they’ll no doubt have an alignment stick on the ground.

So why are they doing it and does it make a difference?

An alignment stick is vital when hitting balls at the range to give you a clear indication of your true aiming point.

Although the wide-open spaces of the driving range may allow you to open your hips and swing freely, many shots you claim would be “just up the right” on the course would actually be “just on the highway” running adjacent to the fairway.

Golf alignment sticks can help you work on aim, and swing plane.

If you don’t properly line up every shot by stepping off the ball, finding a mark two inches ahead of the ball and squaring up the club face, the shot you thought was a dead-straight dart may actually have been a 10-yard block.

An alignment stick laid on the ground pointing towards a target will give you a clear indication of where a perfectly straight shot will go, giving you the challenge of keeping within 10 yards left or right of that line.

Alignment sticks can also be useful for a range of other drills from alignment to monitoring hip turn and swing plane, which I’ll explain further below.

How do you set up alignment sticks to help your swing plane?

To help your swing plane, place an alignment stick in the ground around half a club length behind you, and a foot in front of your target line. Tilt the stick so that it matches the angle of your club shaft. When taking a swing, try not to hit the alignment stick as this will keep your club on-plane.

Second to indicating target line, swing plane is probably the next most common use for alignment sticks when fine-tuning your swing.

The words ‘over the top’ make many golfers cringe, and the holy grail that is successfully shallowing the club is dreamed of by many, but executed by so few.

An alignment stick could be the answer to your prayers.

Golf pro Adam Bazalgette, from Scratch Golf Academy, put together a great YouTube video, which you can watch below, where he explains five different drills you can practice using an alignment stick to help your swing plane and aim at address.


Top drills with alignment sticks

Here’s a quick summary of four excellent drills you can practice using alignment sticks to help improve your swing.

Beginner’s alignment drill

Adam Bazalgette, from Scratch Golf Academy, says:

“Put two sticks down… Here’s the mistake people make: they aim themselves too much. Nobody who’s a great player does that. They all aim the golf club, which is much easier to do with these two sticks, and all they do is aim themselves parallel to that line. It’s much easier to do when there’s an obvious line there”.

Simple swing plane drill

Adam Bazalgette, from Scratch Golf Academy, says:

“Set your stick in the ground at the shaft angle of the club you’re going to use. What I would do is put it in steeper, then bend it back until you feel like it matches up. Then, place the second rod on what would be the target line. If your problem is taking the club too much to the inside, you want to set up with the ball slightly on the outside of the parallel stick so your plane will be just above the angled alignment stick. Conversely, if you tend to take the club too far outside, you want to go on the near side so your takeaway will be under (the plane)”.

Alignment stick drill for correct hip turn

The Correct Hip Movement In The Golf Swing

Andy Proudman, from Me and My Golf, in the above video, says:

“Place your alignment stick through your belt loops, make sure you have a mirror handy in front of you so you can see exactly what you’re feeling. Take your normal grip, and when you place it through your belt loops, make sure it’s level to start with and when you take your golf posture, what I want you to notice is: where are you now with the hips? Has that hip dropped, or are you level? I want you to get into your position and I want that right hip to drop slightly lower than the left. This is going to make it so much easier to load the right leg in the backswing and make a much more efficient turn.”

Alignment stick drill for correct body rotation


Chris Ryan from Chris Ryan Golf, in the above video, says:

“Place the alignment stick down beside the club grip, take your normal address and the alignment stick should be in contact with you a little bit above your belt line. In the backswing, rotate your body and the alignment stick is still in contact with your side. Then, use your hips, legs and torso to rotate through (with) the alignment stick still in contact with your body. If you don’t use your body, you’ll start to use your hands and arms but you’ll feel like the alignment stick will collide with you, or it’s almost impossible to get the clubhead to travel towards the target. It’s a great little exercise to help you rotate through the ball.”

Summary of alignment stick drills

Remember, an alignment stick can help you with the following things in your swing, when used correctly:

  • Help you align your body parallel to your target
  • Ensure your club travels along the correct swing plane during the backswing and downswing
  • Help you feel the correct amount of hip and body turn required in the backswing and downswing

Practicing each of the drills shown in the videos above, on a regular basis, will take you closer to achieving that perfect golf swing you’ve been searching for.

Do the pros use alignment sticks?

Watch any pro hitting on the range prior to their round and you’ll see an alignment stick on the ground. Most commonly, pros will use them to line up shots and ensure their divots are straight, and their body is properly aligned to target.

It’s pretty rare in a warm up that they’ll use one sticking out of the ground, but pros use alignment sticks for many of the same reasons amateurs might, too.

Many professional golfers will carry a form of alignment stick with a magnetic end that can be attached to the face of the golf club.

This will create a visual representation of where the clubface is pointing and if they have an alignment stick on the ground pointing to target, they can establish a relationship between the two.

This is something any golfer can do, as the eyes, body and reality don’t always operate in agreement and you may realise your ‘square to target’ face is actually drastically open or closed at address.

In the past few years, dozens of PGA Tour players have also started carrying a version of the humble alignment stick, the ‘Alignment Pro’ which hinges at either end.

This allows players to create an elevated bar or plane which they can use to guide their putting or chipping stroke.

When a two-footer can be the difference between a green jacket or second place, the best in the world will try anything to get that ball rolling true.

What are the best alignment sticks on the market?

There are so many types of alignment sticks available to purchase online, so I spent some time comparing most of them so that you don’t have to.

Having done my research, here’s the three best alignment sticks I recommend you consider buying if you want to see improvement in your golf swing.

Callaway Unisex-Adult Callaway Alignment Stix

The Callaway Unisex Alignment Stix are 48 inches in length and bright yellow for clear visibility.

They come in a dual pack, boasting shock absorption material so they will resist impact and won’t damage your clubs.

Skillz Pro Rods

The Skillz Pro Rods come in a three pack of 48-inch alignment sticks with a rubber-capped end for safety when sticking out of the ground.

Each rod features nine clearly marked rings to aid with precise set up, ball alignment and striking.

Alignment Pro

As mentioned earlier, the Alignment Pro is unique in that it hinges part way along at both ends, creating a lifted plane perfect for chipping and putting with a consistent backswing and follow through.

What are some other useful training aids?

While alignment sticks are arguably the cheapest and most useful training aid on the market, it doesn’t mean they are the only thing you should carry around with you to support your game.

A range of training aids – both useful and complicated, expensive and cheap – grace the market and are worth knowing about to either embrace or avoid.

Here’s the ones I recommend.

SKLZ Gold Flex Golf Swing Trainer Warm-Up Stick

A semi-expensive aid, the SKLZ Warm Up Stick is a rubbery, 48-inch long rod with a weighted ball on one end.

It is challenging to swing it hard due to its flexibility, helping golfers develop tempo and an easy, yet powerful swing.

SKLZ claim 10-20 practice swings a day will help you find that tempo that made Ernie Els so revered.

See how it works in a video review here.

SKLZ Grip Trainer

The SKLZ grip trainer is an absolute must for any beginning golfer.

Yes, all swings are different, but a super strong or weak grip will likely lead to constant and inconsistent compensations in your swing.

The SKLZ grip trainer is a useful tool for practice to ensure you develop good habits and grip the club in a fairly neutral fashion.

See how it works in a video review here.

PuttOUT Pressure Putt Trainer

The PuttOUT Pressure Trainer is a revolutionary practice tool that can be used both at home or on the putting green.

The ground-breaking parabolic curved design replicates putting into an actual golf hole, only retaining your ball if the putt would have dropped to the bottom of the cup.

Missed putts will be returned the same distance they would have glided past the hole, offering invaluable feedback to any shaky putter.

See how it works in a video review here.

Tour Striker Smart Ball Golf Training Aid

The Smart Ball Golf Training Aid aims to mitigate flailing arms in the golf swing, forcing the player to keep their arms closer together to ensure the foam ball stays in position.

The Smart ball will ensure full follow throughs and help golfers develop a sought-after in-to-out striking pattern.

See how it works in a video review here.

Final message

Every golfer wants to get better, and the training aid market is a treacherous one full of expensive items promising the world but delivering varying levels of success.

If money isn’t an issue it’s well worth trying a variety of them out and seeing what works for you, but if your budget is small, an alignment stick is the only thing you should worry about.

An alignment stick will ensure you line up towards the target in practice sessions correctly every time and help to ensure you don’t commit golf’s cardinal sin: smoking a drive straight into the trees, only to have your playing partner cry “well, that’s exactly where you were aiming…”.