What does an “X” in the ground have to do with the golf swing?

My golf instruction involves using visual, kinesthetic and auditory techniques to help a student learn and improve faster. Each student learns differently and swings differently. Communication between the instructor and student often separates a successful lesson from an average experience.

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As instructors, we have to pay attention to student’s word as instruction is a two way street. The instructor analyzes and diagnoses ball flight, impact, face angle, shaft plane, path, and the grip and body alignments.

The student is and always should be front and center. The lesson is 100% about getting a positive reaction from the student. In this case, my student had an “AHA moment” with a simple technique.

A Story From My Home Driving Range

At my home course Boca Dunes Golf & Country Club in Boca Raton, FL I give golf lessons to every level of player. My goal with each player is to improve their impact and ball flight.

One of my students worked himself from a viscous slicer with a driver to hooking the ball across his intended target line. He was swinging the club too much too the right. The club was under the swing plane and swinging out to right field. With this path pattern his club face was also closing quickly. The driver and the irons were very inconsistent.

I began using auditory instruction telling him to turn his hips and chest to the left and swing the club more to the left. (He is a right-handed player). We weren’t quite getting the results. Not bad–but not good enough.

Next, I started to move him around in the swing. Using a motion by moving his body and club shaft to the area I wanted him to swing through. Again, he had improved impact and ball flight but not solid enough. That’s when I did something I never thought would have worked.

I drew an “X” in the divots he was making as seen below.  The most expensive teaching aid ever invented. Well, not really!

I used the end of an alignment stick to draw an “X” in the dirt. Very similar to how I used to draw up plays in the school yard when we played football. Sometimes the most simplistic is the most effective.

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When I explained to my student he needs to swing the club on the line pointing to the left and keep the face pointing to the line on the right through impact he had his AHA moment! He proceeded to rip his driver about 285 yards down the middle with the next 10 golf balls in a row. That’s when I had my “AHA moment” too! Communication clarity!


These lines are obviously exaggerations, but very effective. Sometimes to get the needed results, I will use the philosophy of going a mile to get an inch–and in this case, we had a breakthrough.

For a slicer, I would reverse my instructions. Swing the shaft on the line to the right and the club face needs to face the line going left.

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Take a look at the picture above. This golfer was able to swing the club much more on plane, as you can see the club head on the right just above the plane and the club head on the left before the change much too behind him and under the plane.

Visually my student understood the “X”, because he could conceptualize looking down at the ground and make the motion necessary to have solid impact with a consistent ball flight. Funny, I learn just as much giving a lesson as the student learns from me.

Use the “X” Marks the Spot on the ground to improve your ball flight. Just make sure you are correcting what you need!