The alignment is an absolutely crucial and vital part to any golfer's game. You swing round your body, therefore if your body is offline, your swing in turn will be off line and out of sync, resulting in a poor swing and a poor shot, usually ending up deep in the rough.
When setting up to the ball, firstly ensure the clubface is square to the 'ball to pin line' (the line between the ball and the pin), and ensure that your shoulders, hips and feet are all parallel to the 'ball to pin line', if these 3 are not aligned and one is out, a good body turn is ruined with a poor swing resulting.
When training, on the driving range or wherever you can practise, a useful technique for lining up is to place a club on the floor and check that you're your feet, hips and shoulders line up with each other, the shoulder alignment is particularly crucial because your body turn starts with your shoulders.
Ideally, you should be lining your body up slightly to the left of the target (slightly to the right for left hand players), as opposed to trying to line your body up with the target itself.
On the course a simple test to see if this is the case, is to look at the target, if you can see your left shoulder, then you are lined up to too far to the right (visa versa for lefthanders), your shoulder should be just out of sight.
Poor Alignment can have several affects, these are all negative. Aligning too far to the left most commonly leads to the slicing of the ball, this occurs because you are not parallel to the line running from ball to pin. As a result the backswing is limited so an 'out to in' swing results. As a consequence the club face is slightly open on impact which generates side spin on the ball. This leads to the common problem which is the slice which I will explain in another article.
If you align too far to the right, the opposite will take place and a hook will occur due to the 'in to out' swing of the club, although quite common with beginners and inexperienced players.
Often they will subconsciously become aware of this and try to adjust mid-swing, over adjusting by opening up the clubface as impact approaches. This again results in the slicing of the ball, which is very difficult to control and usually leads to 'the rough'.
Alignment is an often overlooked and crucial part to any golfer's game and therefore must be addressed for you to succeed at any level of golf. For as long as you're alignment is out, you will never be able to consistently hit straight accurate shots and will increasingly find yourself hooking or slicing into the rough, turning those pars into bogies and taking your round from a 75 to 85.
So get that alignment sorted and go shoot some birdies.