Why do so many pro golfers swing with a stick in the ground on the range?

Nelly Korda and Justin Rose practice on range in split image

Why do pros do this?


This week we saw two idyllic golf swings make their way through golf social media.

First came Justin Rose’s, a swing as steady as clockwork, which was first shared by Director of Golf at The Vintage Club David Woods.

And then came Nelly Korda, the World No. 1 female golfer whose silky swing is about as textbook as it gets.

There are lots of similarities between two of the best moves in golf, but one that stuck out to me had nothing to do with their swing: It had to do with their practice station. Both golfers were hitting golf balls with an alignment rod sticking out of the ground at an angle.

Nelly Korda and Justin Rose practice on range in split image
A side-by-side of Korda and Rose’s swings. @LukeKerrDineen on Instagram

It struck me that those at home may not know why, or what the point of it is. Good news is it’s a nice, simple explanation — and a drill you may want to try yourself.

Golfers will almost always out a stick in the ground like this to work on their swing path. The goal is to use it as an obstacle, and place it in a spot so you have to swing around it. You can fix different things depending on where you put the stick.

Rose places the stick behind the golf ball, so he has to swing around it before he hits the ball. It’s a good one to prevent coming over the top (take note, slicers) because otherwise he’d hit the stick. As you can see, it leaves his downswing looking pretty pure.

Placing a stick behind the ball helps you swing from in-to-out Instagram

Nelly has the stick on the opposite side: Past the golf ball, so she has to swing underneath it on her release. This is good for golfers like me, who get the club stuck inside and fling it out to the right.

Placing a stick ahead of the ball helps release the club more around you. Instagram

It’s a simple solution that can be adapted to solve a myriad of problems in your swing, so that’s why pros do it.

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Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. 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.