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Before swinging, line up shots from behind ball

Next time you are out on the course take a look and see how many players bother to stand behind the ball for a second or two and take a line on the shot they intend to play.

Surprisingly few do so. Yet it is asking rather a lot of your swing if you don't.

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It is extremely difficult for most people to stand beside a line and two or three feet away from it and judge exactly where it is pointing. If a golfer simply walks up beside the ball and settles down at the address, the imaginary line ''through the ball'' which he or she assumes will run to the target is almost certain to be wrong.

One must look at the line from behind the ball and with the eyes ''centered'' so that one gets a true line. The usual advice then is to note a mark on the turf in front of the ball that is on the correct line-of-aim and to square oneself up at the address by standing parallel to a line through the ball and the chosen mark.

That's OK so far as it goes, but it does not go far enough.

It is important to pick a mark not only in front of the ball but behind it.

Indeed, I believe that if you pick a spot behind the ball you need not bother with the one in front of it. The mark behind the ball is the more useful.

Picking a mark on the line of aim behind the ball will help you keep your head still too. You won't be tempted to look ahead of the ball before you've actually swept it away.

So take the line from behind the ball every time. And note at least one mark on the turf that is on that line, preferably a mark behind the ball.

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