The Myrtle Beach area is fortunate to have not only a wealth of excellent golf courses for visitors and locals to play, but a number of top-ranked golf instructors whom those visitors and locals can visit for help with their golf games. One of those superb teachers is Mel Sole, a native of South Africa and former Sunshine and European Tour player who counts Gary Player among his friends. Sole operates two branches of the Mel Sole Golf School in the Myrtle Beach area: the first, in Pawleys Island at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club some 22 years ago with mentor and partner Phil Ritson and the second, which opened in the last two years, at Grande Dunes Resort Club in Myrtle Beach.
Sole is a walking and talking encyclopedia of golf swing, fitness and course management knowledge. He has helped players from rank amateurs to aspiring professionals improve their games. Of Sole’s tutelage, the late founder and CEO of PepsiCo, Wayne Calloway, said, “I’ve taken lessons from the most famous players in golf, but nothing beats what I’ve learned from Mel at the Mel Sole Golf School.”
For this month’s tip, Sole talks about an inexpensive, simple golf swing aid that all players should employ when they go to the range: alignment sticks.
He says, “About 50% of students I teach tell me that they have issues with alignment: trying to aim correctly,” asserting that when he will conduct playing lessons, that percentage is even higher.
Sole recommends players buy a pair of alignment sticks, which are sold at all golf stores nowadays, usually for less than $15.
Sole continues, “With your two alignment sticks, one is going to be for alignment while the other is going to be for correct ball position.”
Sole recommends that golfers place one stick directly behind the golf ball, pointing down the line to the target, with the other one parallel to the first, next to the golfer’s toes at address. For a right-handed player, this stick will naturally be aimed slightly to the left of the target, while for a left-handed player it will be aimed slightly to the right of the target. After setting up this second stick, Sole recommends removing the first stick and placing it perpendicular to the second, which will ensure consistent and proper ball position while practicing.
“You have to teach yourself what it feels like to aim straight, because on the golf course, we’re not going to have the alignment aides that we have on the range,” says Sole.
Before hitting each practice ball, Sole recommends practicing holding one’s posture for the shot and looking up at the target, which will train the player to internalize the feeling of sizing up the shot with proper alignment. The goal is for this proper alignment to become second-nature on the course, where alignment sticks are not usable for each shot.
This tip is one of a series that Sole calls “Practice With A Purpose.” This and many other tips can be found at www.ritson-sole.com/golf-tips/.