Ask any golfer what they struggle with, and almost every one of them will respond with “A slice.” Depending on you who ask, many golf instructors will estimate between 70-85% of their students all have a problem with slicing the golf ball. If you do a Google search on “how to fix your slice in golf”, you’ll receive upwards of 500,000 results, most of which give their “quick-fix”, some as quick as five minutes, to fix your slice and start striking the golf ball more consistently. However, many of you may be wondering: Do any of these “fixes” actually work?
What is a Slice?
Before we get into the depths of how to fix a slice, it’s important to understand what a slice is, and how the golf club, as well as the golfer, create them.
For a right-handed golfer, a slice occurs when the ball moves from left-to-right. The direction of the face (open, closed, or square) is what will determine where the shot begins. It is the relation between the path of the face in relation of the path the club is swinging on.
Sound a little confusing? Here’s what it boils down to:
When you have an inside-to-out swing, where you come over the top, the path is swinging left of where the face is intended to swing. Here’s a simple illustration:
The black line represents your intended target line. The red line is the club path, which is swinging left of the target. The intersection of these lines is impact, and the yellow line illustrates the ball curvature. While not all slices will look this way, it’s important to understand that it’s the path of the golf club that has the most impact on the dispersion of the ball.
It’s important to understand that the above illustration is only a simple model; for example, the direction the ball starts is largely dependent on the amount of loft on the club (the lower the loft, the more likely the ball will start in the direction of the face) and whether the face is open, square, or closed in relation to the target line.
How to Fix Your Slice
Now that we’ve established the cause of a slice, how does one go about fixing it? There are several determining factors that all work together to form your swing path. This is what makes these “five-minute fixes” and “easy ways to fix your slice” difficult to implement.
Golf swings have a lot of moving parts, and if someone tries a fix that doesn’t work, it’s easy to think that either the fix is the problem or you are, neither of which is probably true. It’s much easier to establish good fundamentals like the proper grip, proper setup, and proper swing mechanics. Here are the keys to look out for in each of these categories which can cause an over-the-top swing plane.
If you think your slice could be caused by your grip:
- Check your grip pressure, particularly in your right hand (for you right-handed golfers). If there is tension stemming from your hands, the tendency is for your arms and shoulders to dominate the swing. Since you have an infinite amount of space for the club to swing away from your body, it’s natural for the club to swing to the outside.
- If the Vs created by your hands point too much toward your left shoulder, you probably have too weak of a grip, which will also encourage an over-the-top swing path.
Slice-related issues regarding setup:
- It’s natural for human beings to want to correct by what seems natural. After all, if you have an issue with the ball curving to the right, simply aim more to the left to compensate? Anyone who has played golf for any length of time can tell you that this is almost never the case. Compensation typically leads to wider misses and either more compensation or frustration. When you try to compensate by aiming more left, this creates a few problems. First, it will open your shoulders to the left as well, which will limit the amount you can turn back. Secondly, the path isn’t going to change by aiming more left; all that really happens is that you allow yourself more space to the outside plane, which is why most golfers who tend to slice the ball will slice it even more. Thirdly, and most frustrating, is if you hit a good shot, it’s going to end up in a worse spot than where you had anticipated it to go.
Swing mechanics and the slice:
- Similar to how it was mentioned in the grip section, a swing must be smooth, and must allow for a transition. When the upper body takes over, or if the lower body stays stagnant, the only way the club will swing to the ball is from the outside.
The Final Word
The most effective way to fix your slice, or any shot pattern you don’t like, is through practice and by staying consistent with your fundamentals. With as much information as there is out there pertaining to a slice, the truth is that there are no “quick fixes” in golf.
Even if something works for a little while, the basics of your grip, posture, alignment, and swing mechanics will always determine the type of golfer you are. However, if you stay diligent with your fundamentals, you may not see results right away, but over time, your game will see dramatic improvement.
Armed with everything you need to know about a slice, and how to correct them properly, get out there and play better golf!