The PGA states that 90% of golfers have a slice. Congratulations if you are one of the lucky minority. For the rest of us, there is hope. With a little understanding and practice, a slice can be corrected.
A true slice ball starts off to the left of the intended line of shot and then curves out to the right. This high flyer usually drops dead with very little roll. DCL spoke with Jason Daubner, Director of Golf at Maxwelton Braes Golf Resort, for some expert advice on the subject. When lining up their shots, many amateur golfers overcompensate by aiming left, knowing that they play with a consistent slice. Daubner explains that aiming left in anticipation of a slice “produces a very weak shot with poor distance.” The paltry yardage is a result of the slice ball’s tendency to curve back like a boomerang rather than to go forward and away from the golfer.
The faults that produce the slice can be numerous. Normally, the source is a problem with a golfer’s grip, swing path, or pivot.
The first place to look for a flaw is your grip, which is your only contact with the club. Daubner relays that with “golfers who consistently hit the ball to the right, we usually observe a weak grip. In a weak grip, the left hand is in a neutral position on top of the shaft, and the thumb of the right hand is over the top of the shaft.” This is the most common fault in grip – having the right hand too far over the top of the shaft, and will likely produce a slice with every shot. The hands should be close together so that they can perform as a single unit. Daubner is used to instructing his students, “When the club is laid down, the ‘V’s formed by the thumb and index finger should point to the right shoulder [for right-handed golfers]. This allows for better rotation, and for the club face to square at impact.”
Improper pivot is another factor that ranks high on the list of causes for common golfing headaches, including the slice. To pivot properly, keep the club low to the ground as you start to bring it back. That’s the beginning of a correct pivot and the rest will follow if your grip and stance are sound. Review your stance and make sure you are properly balanced and completely comfortable in addressing the ball.
One problem to watch for in your pivot pattern is the breaking of your wrists too quickly at the start of your backswing. If this happens, you will lose control of the club right at the beginning of your swing and will take the club back outside the proper arc of your swing pattern. If you do this, the club undoubtedly will come back down into the ball on the same faulty arc and result in an outside-in stroke. This outside-in swing path can cause almost every faulty development, from slicing to shanking. You can cure this fault by taking the club back with a one-piece motion, starting the swing with the hands, arms, and body at the same time. Swing the club; don’t lift it. Following this procedure can help to eliminate the problem of cocking your wrists too soon on your backswing.
Many golf professionals feel the most common solution to the slicers’ woes lies in the position of the clubface at impact. “Most people don’t understand why the ball goes right or left — they have to understand that a slice is the result of an open clubface at impact,” Daubner explains. For many slicers, the problem of an open clubface is caused by a very tense grip with the left hand, which can prevent the clubface from squaring up to the ball at impact.
The solution to this situation is to have flexibility in your wrists, which is created when the arms and hands work freely. Maintaining more flexibility in the wrists will enable the clubhead to travel faster in the forward swing path and will allow the club to actually swing.
Knowing what causes a swing flaw like a slice is the first step to correction. The second is proper instruction. Door County is home to many talented golf professionals who can identify why you’re slicing and provide exercises to help minimize, or possibly even cure the problem.
Dr. Richard C. Myers is the creator of ThinkAndReachPar.com – a website dedicated to providing quality golf training products and software.