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Clubface Alignment:
Don’t Just Stab in the Dark

For followers of my free premium online golf lessons here is the next in the sequence of pieces, focusing today on your Clubface Alignment.

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Before we even get started here, never practise or play any target oriented sports without firstly establishing a target. Without a target you have no guide, leaving you stranded with nothing to learn. Your golf will be useless, a total stab in the dark. You need to develop feeling for your target as this is your ultimate goal, without it you are lost. How can you say that you have hit a good shot if you didn’t have a target? Don’t do anything until you have selected a target and certainly don’t listen to the advice of someone who doesn’t firstly recommend that you select a target as this is a sure fire sign they don’t know what they are talking about!

Selecting a target

  Don't do anything until you have
  selected a target

The importance of correct clubface alignment in relation to your target is something which is often overlooked during the set up. If you consistently address your ball with a closed clubface pointing left of your target, it is amazing how fast this becomes second nature and part of your make-up. At first it may not be such a big issue but often the effects of your clubface being closed will gradually creep into your whole game shaking it from the roots up. Where does the average golfer point his finger when his ball is careering left into the woods? At his swing, of course. It’s amazing how much compensation and dancing around that is involved in attempting to correct such a simple mistake!

So how do we make sure that your clubface is correctly aligned at address? This is a perfectly logical thought process that needs to be spot on for your ball to finish where you want it to. Believe me, this is one of the most crucial elements in your set up. The ball will normally finish where the clubface is aiming, regardless of what the rest of your swing or body is doing. If your clubface alignment is out, the ball will finish in the wrong place. The most important fundamental that runs through the veins of a consistent golf swing is that the clubface must be square in relation to the ball and target, throughout. If not, then you will never be able to trust your swing in a month of Sundays and you will never know what’s coming next as you twist and turn, manoeuvring your body in an effort to compensate.

So in simple terms, if the clubface is open (aiming to the right of your target) your ball will finish its flight to the right of your target. If the clubface is closed (aiming to the left of your target) the ball will finish its flight to the left of your target. This should always be your number one check. A clubface alignment problem produces a golf swing that needs to move around, twisting and turning out of position, fighting to get your clubface back on line. The compensations you need to make to correct your clubface alignment will not serve you well for your first tee shot in your monthly medal but you might be the lucky winner of a prize on stage in a belly dancing contest. In simple terms you will never trust it…

This is how you correctly align your clubface
to your target:

  • Stand behind your ball  
  • Select and focus on your target  
  • Pick out a position on the ground approximately within a metre in front of your ball in your target line.
    (This could be a discoloured piece of grass or a piece of wood.)
    REMINDER: Do not touch this point with your hand or club head as you will be penalised!
  • Focus on that point  
  • Align your clubface to this point  

Standing behind the ball

Selecting a point within one metre on the ball to target line

Standing behind the ball, selecting a point within one metre
on the ball to target line

Why would you want to aim at a target that’s three hundred metres away when you can align yourself to something that is only one metre away? If this is new to you it’s probably something you’ve never even considered and you’ll be surprised to know it is the same simple check that every great golfer has as part of his pre-shot routine. Do you believe that the great players of the modern game complicate the basics? Everybody gets nervous and feels pressure; the best way to retain composure is to keep it simple. If the best of the best are doing it, it can’t be all bad, so make sure that this is your number one check.

Where does it all go wrong?

Most faults in a golf swing come from poor set up. If you have alignment problems you are leaving yourself wide open to a range of swing faults that will walk straight into your life. You will spend your whole golf career fighting and compensating for the simple mistakes that you are making before you have even taken your club away in your backswing. Many golfers are laying classic traps down unknowingly before their very own twinkle toes, toes which are ready and waiting to take the bait.

The Optical Illusion

The biggest alignment problem is the way you see your target. If you stand directly behind your target facing it, it is much easier to align your body to it as both eyes are squarely fixed, which is the natural choice for you as we have hunted down our prey this way for centuries. This is the natural, balanced way that your brain works and processes the information standing before it best. As soon as you are side on to your target and address your ball things start to look differently. The right eye is more dominant as you turn and tilt your head to look at your target. Naturally this starts to mislead the brain as your head tilts to look at the target, bending your line of vision further to the right than it actually is. The problem lies in the eye of the beholder.


Viewing the target from face on

Viewing the target from side on at address

  Viewing the target from face on

  Viewing the target from side on at address

Off the Rails 

The second biggest classic amateur culprit with body alignment problems that I hear time and time again amongst club golfers occurs when you align your body to your target. I don’t know why but many golfers actually believe that their body must be aligned to their target. When you play tennis or throw a ball do you align your body to your target? Never! So stop doing this when you are playing golf. If you are given this as advice, you are listening to someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about or is not interested in the development of your golf. In other words run like the clappers, you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time my friend. Aligning your body to your target for any shot that you play is one of the worst and most fatal mistakes that run through golf club locker rooms all over the world. For a start you are aiming in the wrong direction which is rather important to understand if you want to play your best golf. Then there are your precious bones which you are without a shadow of a doubt setting up for a high speed collision course of pain and devastation. 

Aligning your body to the target is a common, yet very misguided mistake. At best, you will hit the ball to the right of your intended target because you have aligned your body, rather than your clubface, to the target. The best and simplest way to understand how aligning your body to the target is completely miles away from where it should be is to use the example of the rails of a train track. If your body is running parallel to the inside rail in line with your target, then the outside rail which the ball is sitting on is now running parallel to your body but to the right of your target! Oops!


body aligned to target (incorrect)

Incorrectly addressing the ball with
the body aligned to the target

Now it as clear as day. So, my friend, it’s about time you smelled the roses, got your head around it and dragged yourself out of this bad habit before your golf and your bones reap the consequences.

“V” Bad Compensation

Most golfers now think that they can simply get around this well practised body alignment problem by aligning their clubface to the target. This solves absolutely nothing and just reinforces all of the bad stuff. To say it’s wrong is an understatement, it is placing your golf and bones under undue stress from a totally careless mistake. Your body and clubface (which is now in a closed position in relation to your body) are aiming V shaped to your target.

Body and clubface aligned to target (incorrect)

 Incorrectly addressing the ball with the
 body aligned to the target and incorrectly
 compensating with the clubface also
 aligned to the target

Try running with both your feet pointing inwards in a V shape and you’ll end up falling flat on your face. Guess what? You are placing your body in the same scenario in your golf swing! You cannot consistently compensate for poor body alignment. Your swing will be totally blocked and prevented from turning correctly, bringing your downswing, follow-through and golf career to an abrupt halt. If you play this way too often you will feel the stress attacking your lower back, firing a lightening bolt of pain straight into your bones, often leading to serious injury. So please be warned, your Golf Swing Danger Zone awaits you. 

If you think that you’re the type of Houdini guy that can make a great escape from this mess that you are wrapping yourself up in here, you could try and get yourself out of jail by swinging in the direction of your target. Your sub-conscious will know that your target is further to your left even if you don’t. Your body will automatically try to compensate for this miscalculation by swinging your hands and arms across your body in an attempt to get your club head back to the target.


Incorrectly aligning body at address swing sequence (1) Incorrectly aligning body at address swing sequence (2) Incorrectly aligning body at address swing sequence (3)

  Initiating the downswing outside of plane, swinging to the left
  in a vain effort to bring the club head back to the target

Incorrectly aligning body at address swing sequence (4)

Incorrectly aligning body at address swing sequence (5)

Incorrectly aligning body at address swing sequence (6)

  Swinging too far to the left in a struggle to get the club head
to the target

Incorrectly aligning body at address swing sequence (7)

Incorrectly aligning body at address swing sequence (8)

Completing a downswing which is blocking the weight
transference onto the left side in turn inhibiting the body's rotation

This is one of the most dangerous swing faults or as in this case compensations that your body could be forced to make. If you like your local back surgeon and you’d like to get to know him really well then this is mission nearly accomplished! You are chopping your body in two using only your hands and arms, with the end result being weak and inconsistent golf shots.

The outside rail should run from your ball to your target. The inside rail now runs parallel to this, aligning your whole body, feet, knees, hips and shoulders to the left of your target.

Correctly aligned body and clubface in relation to the target

A correctly aligned body and clubface in relation to the target

From this moment forward your clubface alignment will be your number one check. The benefits will amaze you as you simply align your clubface to your target. Stand back and watch your ball finish exactly where you want it to!!

Check 1: Be Square to One Metre

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Who am I
to teach you golf?

Lee Kopanski

Head (British) PGA Professional and author Lee Kopanski has worked intensively with 3 highly acclaimed tour professional coaches over an 11 year period which opened the door for him to the golfing world of elite coaching. Through 20+ years of dedicated hands on experience Kopanski has developed a unique teaching system using many tour proven insider techniques accessible to all through his series of books and in person at his Golf Academy in Styria, Austria. Kopanski is the golf expert at Golf Magic in the UK (the most complete resource for golfers on the web) and he writes regularly for Golfing Magazine (The clubhouse leader) and Golf Digest Ireland (Ireland's biggest selling golf magazine). Kopanski has 3 golf instructional books available...

Testimonials from
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Lee has worked with some of the best coaches in the world over an 11 year period

Alan Thompson

English National Elite Coach

I have known Lee for seven years as a pupil and a Golf Professional. During this time I have seen him work diligently on his technique with an intensity and commitment given to very few people. This same quality is evident in his conduct around the Pro’s Shop and in his own teaching where I know his attention to detail and enthusiasm for the job at hand ensures that his customers and clients receive the very best of attention. (1998)

Alan Thompson has inspired many England International junior boys and several England girls and ladies, including two Curtis Cup players. He is coach to many European Tour Professionals, PGA Professionals and to the England National Elite A Squad. Much of the future of English golf rests in his hands.

Denis Pugh
PGA *MASTER Professional


Lee Kopanski regularly visited me for golf instruction over a 14 month period during the time I was based at the Warren Golf Club inEssex. Lee made a big effort to travel from his home in the North of England and thereby proved his commitment to improving both his golf swing and his knowledge of teaching. His understanding of the mechanics of the golf swing plus his interest in the skills of teaching will, I am sure, serve him well within the future. (2000)

Denis Pugh is the renowned golf analyst on Sky Sports Golf Night and was a former tour player himself. He has coached over 150 Tour Professionals since 1988. He is most famous for his long time association with 8 time European Order of Merit winner and Ryder Cup star Colin Montgomerie.

*PGA Master Professional.

Awarded by the PGA to qualified Members held in high national or international esteem. Members that have made a significant contribution to the development of golf as a player, coach, administrator, or course designer. A leader in theirfield for a number of years. An innovator.

Bill Ferguson
PGA *MASTER Professional

I have known Lee Kopanski for the past two years and I have also taught him not only about his personal golf swing, but also the golf swing in general. I found him to be a very personable young man, articulate and well mannered. (2000)

There are not many people that can claim Colin Montgomerie as a caddy but Bill Ferguson can. Bill was Monty's first mentor as a nine-year old and coached him well into his professional career. Bill Ferguson's playing highlights include lifting the PGA Club Professional Championship in 1976. He was the English national coach for 25 years and is a past Yorkshire captain of the PGA as well as serving on the executive committee.
 Bill Ferguson has been a mentor to many great players including; Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam, Howard Clark, Darren Clarke, Seve Ballesteros and Paul Broadhurst.

Gareth Evans

Company Chairman,
High Legh Park Golf Club (UK)

High Legh Park Golf Club is very honoured to be represented by Lee Kopanski, who conducts himself in a truly professional manner...(he) enjoys a great reputation within the area due to his expertise combined with his friendly and approachable manner. As a teacher Lee has proven his skill to adapt to the level of the pupil, offering practical advice and making full use of indoor teaching facilities, such as video analysis, with state of the art computer aided teaching equipment. Lee's playing ability is of a high standard. He represents High Legh Park Golf Club, and is a member of various golf tours, playing in golf tournaments all over the country, and also in local pro-am events.
Lee is a very hard working, dedicated, trustworthy and enthusiastic individual, an excellent Professional and ambassador for the PGA. (2000)

Marie Pickstock
Community Education
Halton College (UK)

During Lee's time with us he has proved to be a reliable and hardworking tutor, who gets on well with his students. He brings enthusiasm and a strong sense of humour to his work, which is highly motivating for both students and colleagues alike.
An excellent tutor, and a natural teacher. (2000)

 Golf Digest Ireland

Golf Digest Ireland


Golfing Magazine

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