It feels a little weird, but this aiming strategy used by top pros can really help your game

Nailing your aim is the first step to success on the course.

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Welcome to Play Smart, a game improvement column and podcast from editor Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you play smarter, better golf.

Let’s start here: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Rory McIlroy — along with countless others — have done it.

Maybe it’s something you should try, too.

Aiming is something every golfer has to do on every single shot which makes it obviously very important.

Like many golfers, I’ve always had trouble aiming. I tend to aim too far out to the right, which creates compensations in my swing that I don’t even know are happening at the time. But halfway through this season, I got serious about fixing it, so I adopted a new technique into my pre-shot routine: Picking an intermediate target.

It’s easier than it sounds. All it entails is picking a spot on the ground between your golf ball and your distant target, about two feet in front of your ball. Once I pick it out, I only look at that spot as I get set up, and don’t worry about the target in a distance. It’s something GOLF Top 100 Teacher Eric Alpenfels has studied — and found really helps golfers.

According to our article about it from 2019:

That’s right. Alpenfels and Christina found that, on average, golfers actually hit the ball straighter and just as far when they don’t look at where they want to hit it, and only focus on a spot about two feet in front of their ball. Their overall accuracy increased, as did their Smash Factor — a metric that can be used to measure the overall quality of strike.

Why? Because when a golfer looks at where they want to hit their ball, they don’t just see the green. They see the water, the bunkers, the trees — all the places they don’t want to hit their ball. That subconscious fear forces your mind into making last-minute overcompensations, the study found, which hurts golfers’ distance and accuracy. So, the next time you’re struggling to hit a fairway, pick a spot just in front of your ball and focus only on that. It could give your swing the freedom it needs.

And that’s the topic of our most recent Play Smart podcast, which you can listen to below.

You can subscribe to the Play Smart podcast on Apple here, or on Spotify right here.

Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.