Editor's Note: This story was updated May 10, 2017 — Serious golfers love to work on the fundamentals of the swing and stroke, which leads to "automatic" improvement that you really don't need to think about — until your move gets out of sorts (and it will, even for the best players). But beyond the basics are valuable tips that deal with aim, club selection, course management … all those nuances that add up to a more complete golf package. I call them 8 tricks to become a better player, and I'm happy to share them with you here.
TRICK 1: Align The Clubface
One of the most common mistakes amateurs make is improper alignment. Some think they should align their feet at the target, others try to get their shoulders parallel to it. Hey, some golfers try to align everything at the target! They're all wrong.
The correct way to align your shots is to always begin by first assessing your target from behind the ball. This will give you a perspective of the entire hole and help you aim right where you want the ball to go. Secondly, before you make your actual stance, set the clubface behind the golf ball and align it directly at the target. Do this before, not after, you get into your stance. PGA Tour players have a knack for aligning the clubhead in this fashion. Pay attention to how they do it the next time you tune in.
After you have the right clubface alignment, then comes time to situate the rest of your body. Most players benefit from aligning their lower body left of the target line and their upper body parallel to the target line. There's actually no right answer as to what works best for you, but one thing is for sure. Aligning your body directly at the target rarely works. It usually leads to crossovers and over-the-top swings. Keep your body aiming left of the target line, and experiment with what works best for you. But be sure to align that clubface first!