It seems that everything could feel right. Then suddenly, a presumably well-struck golf ball flies uncontrollably toward towering pines that are sure to jail the next shot. The feeling can be a helpless one for a golfer, especially if he or she cannot detect the flaw that led to such a wayward shot.

All of a sudden second guesses turn those confident golf swings into tentative movements. Before you know it, you are this guy.

A golfer’s natural instinct is often to blame something with the swing movement. But before you go Tin Cup, you might be best served by checking your alignment, says Tom Baker, the head golf professional at Black Butte Ranch’s Glaze Meadow.

“A lot of people have alignment problems and they need to get back to the fundamentals,” Baker says. “If you don’t set up correctly or have a nice square setup to wherever we are trying to aim, you basically have to have a swing flaw to try to correct that.”

The good news is that alignment issues are relatively easy to fix, needing little more than a driving range, a set target and two alignment sticks (or golf clubs).

First, set one stick on the ground and aim it toward the intended target. Then set the second alignment aid at the front of your golf stance along a parallel line to the original stick.

“We’re basically setting up on a train track so wherever my clubface and my ball line is going, my foot line is going to be aiming just left of that to keep me square to my target,” Baker says.

The first purpose of this, of course, is to set the correct alignment. If a stance is set too far right of the target it will likely produce a draw. Too far left and the ball will likely fade.

Finding the proper alignment can help fix those issues. Or, if those wild ball flights persist, it might be easier to diagnose the real issue.

“After you start hitting it square you are able to tell if you are pushing the ball right or hooking it (because of a swing issue), or it could come down to as simple a thing as your alignment,” Baker concludes.

For more information on how to take a lesson from Tom or any of our Black Butte Ranch instructors, visit The link also includes a calendar of Black Butte Ranch’s golf schools, clinics and camps.