So you're catching a lot of shots thin, maybe mixing in some slices. The first step to fixing these problems is to understand why they happen.
Let's dig into these two common golf mistakes, which plague many beginners.
Thin shot: When the bottom (leading edge) of your club makes contact on or near the ball's equator, you get a shot that flies very low with no backspin.
Novice golfers are especially prone to trying to lift the ball into the air by flicking the wrists. Doing that, however, causes the club to travel upward at the moment of impact. Usually, the leading edge strikes too high on the ball.
The key to overcoming this habit is to trust simple physics. Because every clubface is built with loft, hitting up isn't necessary. In fact, the opposite is true: You want to strike the ball with a slightly descending blow. (The driver is the only exception to this rule.)
To do this, make sure your hands are just ahead of the ball when you set up. The club's shaft should be leaning toward your target, with the butt end of the grip pointed at your left hip. Try to return the hands and club to this position at impact, creating a downward strike and sending the ball airborne.
Slice: The majority of amateur golfers, not just beginners, struggle with a slice. It's a shot that curves sharply from left to right (or right to left if you're left-handed) and is difficult to control.
A slice happens when the clubhead is traveling across the ball, from right to left, with the clubface open (pointing right) in relation to this path. This combination imparts left-to-right sidespin and a curved flight.
There are numerous slice causes , but beginners struggle most with the reverse pivot. This is an improper weight shift to the right on the downswing, instead of to the left. This motion prevents your hands and arms from rolling over (releasing); the clubface stays open and the ball spins right.
The weight shift two-step drill is an excellent cure for this malady.
Beginner Golf Tip – What Causes Thin Shots and Slices
As a beginning golfer, one of your main goals is simply to make solid contact with the ball as often as possible. In the early stages of your experience with this game, you shouldn't worry too much about your overall score, as you are still getting the hang of all of the skills required to play well. If you can learn how to hit the sweet spot at least a fair percentage of the time, you will be well on your way to an enjoyable future on the links.
With the simple goal of hitting solid shots in mind, this article is going to look at a couple of common problems faced by the beginning golfer. Both thin shots and slices are common among amateurs, including those who are just getting started and those who have been playing for a while. Whether you are currently struggling with thin shots, slices, or both, this article will lay out some tips that you can use to get your game on track. It is always going to be difficult to shoot a good score when making these kinds of mistakes, so work on eliminating these issues from your game as soon as possible.
Thin shots are a problem for the obvious reason that they are going to come up short of your target. When you strike the ball thin, you have hit it too low on the club face – meaning the shot will fail to get high up into the air, and it will not receive as much energy from your swing as if you had contacted it on the sweet spot. Your thin shots are rarely going to wind up anywhere near your target, and they will often run into a trouble spot before coming to rest. Needless to say, taking thin shots out of your game will allow you to take a big step forward in your performance.
While thin shots are certainly a problem for beginning golfers, they are not nearly as common as the slice. This is the leading issue faced by amateur golfers around the world – for proof, just stand back on your local driving range and watch others practice. Without a doubt, you will find at least a couple players struggling with the slice. The slice is a serious problem because it robs you of distance while also making it nearly impossible to hit the ball accurately toward your target. Those fighting the slice are typically well off the mark in terms of mechanics, meaning many changes are necessary before better results will be seen. The process of working your way from a slice to a straight ball flight is not an easy one, but you will be rewarded with a much-improved game if you see it through to the end.
All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
The Causes of Thin Shots
To start with, we are going to take a close look at a few of the causes of thin golf shots. Of course, there are more potential causes than you will find listed below, but these points are a good place to start. If you are consistently hitting the ball thin, you are likely to find the underlying cause of your problems somewhere in this section.
- Poor balance. You will find as you learn more and more about your swing that poor balance can be listed as an underlying cause for many problems. It is important to remain on balance during your golf swing, as good balance will make it easier for you to deliver the club to the back of the ball with consistency. Players with poor balance will always have trouble achieving a clean strike. As it relates specifically to thin shots, leaning back away from the target at impact is what you need to avoid. This kind of mistake will cause the club to bottom out prematurely, meaning it will be moving back up away from the turf when the club contacts the ball. In the end, you are left with a thin shot that struggles to get more than a few feet off the ground. To avoid this issue, keep your weight centered nicely over the ball as you swing.
- Overactive hands. The amount of hand action you should use in your swing is a topic which is up for debate. Some golf teachers think the hands should be rather passive throughout the swing, while others encourage active use of the hands to propel the club into the ball. No matter which side of the debate you agree with, one thing is certain – using your hands too actively through the hitting area can lead to thin shots. Specifically, it is too much release with the right hand that will be the problem in this case. As your right hand fires through the shot, the club head is naturally going to be raised slightly, and you will again be at right of striking the ball near the bottom of the face. Think about holding your left wrist steady as you make contact, as such a move will prevent your right hand from completely taking over the action.
- Trying to hit the ball too hard. This is a point you may not think of at first as being related to thin shots, but there is a strong connection here. When you try to hit the ball too hard – especially on an iron shot – you will run the risk of hitting the shot thin. Why? Basically, you will be inviting the two previously listed mistake into your game. Swinging hard is a great way to knock yourself off balance, and it can also cause you to be too active with the right hand. Either way, you are going to be in peril of hitting a thin shot and missing your target. Most amateur golfers would benefit greatly from taking more club on a majority of their shots. The next time you think that an eight iron would be the right club for the job at hands, choose a seven iron instead. The smooth swing that you are able to make as a result of having plenty of club just may send the ball accurately toward the target.
As soon as you notice a pattern of thin shots in your game, you need to begin looking for the root cause of the problem. You can't make the proper correction if you never find the problem in the first place. While your issue may be one of the three points we have listed above, it could also be something else entirely. Even as a beginning golfer, you should be able to roughly figure out what is causing your thin shots just by thinking carefully about the issue.
If you are struggling to find the underlying cause of this frustrating problem, there are a couple of places you can turn. First, you may want to record a video of your swing so you can break down the action in slow motion. You may be able to spot mistakes on the video that you were unable to notice otherwise. Also, you could opt to enlist the help of a professional. Taking a lesson from a teaching pro at your local course is a great idea for a number of reasons. In addition to helping you eliminate your thin shots, the pro can help you establish a number of solid fundamentals which will accelerate your learning process in this game. Given the relatively low cost, taking a lesson or two from an experienced pro is one of the best golfing decisions you can make.
The Causes of a Slice
Moving on, it is now time to turn our attention to the slice. Just as was the case with thin shots, there are going to be a number of potential causes to work through in this section. Before thinking about your own swing specifically, read through this section and understand why each of the mistakes below can lead to a slice. This quick education on the topic is going to help you better understand your golf swing as a whole. Then, once you grasp these concepts, you can move on to thinking about which of these mistakes may be the reason for your persistent slice.
- Poor balance. Okay – so you probably saw this one coming. Just as you can create thin shots due to poor balance, you can create a slice as well. Most commonly, slicers will be guilty of a balance error known as the 'reverse pivot'. In a reverse pivot, the golfer moves his or her weight toward the target during the backswing, before shifting the weight away from the target in the downswing. This action causes the club to move over the top during the transition, as there won't be space to drop it to the inside properly. Most players who use a reverse pivot either hit a slice or a pull. To break this habit successfully, you need to focus first on controlling your center of gravity during the backswing. Don't let yourself slide toward the target as the swing begins – you won't be able to save the shot once this mistake has been made. Start your swing with great balance at address and work hard to maintain that balance throughout the action. While the slice can seem like a daunting opponent to conquer, the task may be as simple as removing the reverse pivot from your swing once and for all.
- Inside takeaway. As you learned in the previous section, the takeaway is an important piece of the golf swing puzzle. If you make a poor takeaway, there isn't enough time in the rest of the swing to get back on track. Starting out in the right direction is extremely important in golf. With that in mind, you need to avoid taking the club too far to the inside during the takeaway. Forcing the club to the inside early in the swing is a sure way to produce a slice when all is said and done. The problem here is a narrow backswing. Your inside takeaway is going to create a narrow swing, and a narrow swing is almost always going to lead to the dreaded over the top move in the transition. Moving the club over the top will cause you to hit from outside-in at impact, meaning you will either hit a pull or a slice. Adding width to your takeaway is the obvious way to fix this mistake. Do your best to trace a straight line back away from the ball for the first foot or so of the takeaway. Eventually you will need to swing to the inside of the target line, of course, but don't allow that to happen any earlier than necessary. Great backswing width will not only help you avoid the slice, but it will help add power to your swing as well.
- Premature release. One of the reasons that the slice is so common is the fact that there are so many different ways to create a left to right shot shape. Even if you get through the backswing successfully, you could still hit a slice if you release the clubhead prematurely in the downswing. Ideally, you will hold the angle between your left arm and the club shaft for as long as possible, but many beginning golfers come up short on this point. The average player gives up his or her lag well in advance of making contact, which means the club will be forced to the outside and a slice will be possible. To work on fixing this mistake, try making some one-handed practice swings with only your left hand on the club. Without your right hand in the picture, you will not be tempted to release the club early. Make a few one-handed practice swings and then return to hitting range balls with both hands. With any luck, this simple drill will take away your desire to release the club early in the downswing.
In reality, a section on the possible causes of a slice could go on all day. There are many ways to position the club for an outside-in path through the ball, but the result is always the same – a disappointing shot which sails way to the right before coming down short of the target. If you are ever going to make any meaningful progress with your game, it will be necessary to eliminate your slice once and for all.
The Importance of the Driving Range
When first getting started in golf, you are probably motivated to do just one thing – get out on the course as often as possible. This single-minded focus is understandable, of course. Golf is played out on a course, not on a driving range. The opportunity to spend several hours wandering around a beautiful green golf course with your friends is what attracted you to golf in the first place. However, while there is nothing wrong with getting out to play as much as possible, you do need to carve out some practice time to spend on the range as well.
The important of using the driving range to improve your game cannot be overstated. When you visit the range with regularity, you will be able to hit far more shots than you could ever hit on the course in a similar amount of time. While on the course, you will probably hit one shot every two or three minutes – at the most. That means, over the period of a half hour, you may only hit the ball 10 – 15 times. Compare that number of swings with your experience on the driving range. If you set up on the range to practice for a half hour, you can easily hit 50 balls or more – and that is without having to rush. Without a doubt, the driving range is where you want to spend your time when swing improvement is at the top of your list.
There is nothing like experience in golf to make progress with your game. Yes, you need experience on the course, but you also need experience simply hitting the ball. The repetitions you get on the range hitting shots over and over again will pay off in a big way during upcoming rounds. You need to be comfortable with the club in your hands, and you need to be confident in your ability to strike the ball cleanly. The driving range is the perfect place to grow your confidence, free from the pressures of the course and away from the critical eyes of your friends. Take some time to work on your technique at the range and your game is sure to improve dramatically.
So what does all this have to do with thin shots and slices? These two types of poor shots are common among amateur golfers because most amateurs never take the time to work on their technique at the range. Visiting the range won't automatically cure you of thin shots or slices, but it will give you the opportunity to work through your issues. Pairing trips to the range with good advice such as that provided above is a recipe for long-term success.
Thin Shots in the Short Game
When it comes to the short game, you don't have to worry about hitting a slice. There isn't going to be enough spin on the ball to slice your short game shots, so you can feel good about your chips and pitches flying in a straight line on their way to the target. However, you still do need to be concerned with hitting the ball thin. If you hit a chip or pitch shot thin, the ball will shoot over the green and you will be using the same wedge for your next shot. To save shots in the short game, the pattern of thin contact needs to be eliminated.
In nearly every case, thin short game shots are caused by attempting to 'lift' the ball into the air at impact. Many amateur players feel like they need to help the ball up off the ground when chipping, so they use their hands to flip the club head at impact. Unfortunately, this move is going to result in thin contact more often than not. In reality, the ball doesn't need any help getting off the ground. There is plenty of loft on your wedge to do the job of getting the ball airborne, so you simply need to hit down through the shot just as you would on a full swing from the fairway.
The key to steering clear of thin chip shots is your left wrist. At impact, your left wrist should be firm and flat, and the back of your wrist should be facing the target. If you can arrive at this basic position, you will rarely – if ever – hit a thin chip shot. The flat position of your left wrist will prove that you have not flipped the club. The club will maintain most or all of its loft thanks to your solid impact position, and the ball will pop up into the air without any trouble. The ability to make clean contact time after time is going to give you tremendous confidence in your short game – and you will start to save strokes right away.
There is nothing fun about hitting thin shots, and the same is true of slices. These are two frustrating mistakes which threaten to put a damper on the amount of fun you can have at the golf course. Fortunately, you don't have to be stuck with these poor shots for the rest of your golfing life. As long as you are willing to put in a bit of work, you can elevate your game to a point where these mistakes are no longer a concern. Good luck!