There are three kinds of slices: Those that start right of target and curve farther right are push slices. Shots that start at the target and curve right are just plain slices. The ones that start left and then veer right are pull slices.
Of the three, the pull slice is probably least damaging because it often finishes in the fairway or close to the target line. The problem is, a pull slice robs you of considerable distance.
Basically, a pull slice occurs when the swing path is severely outside-to-inside, or over-the-top, with the clubface open (pointed right) relative to this path. Let’s examine a few causes of this malady, with a cure for each:
Cause: Poor alignment
In general, the club swings along the line of the body, or where the feet, hips and shoulders are aligned. Your pull slice may be a simple case of aiming your body left of target while pointing the clubface right of your body.
Cure: Get your aim squared away
Proper alignment sounds like a simple task, but it’s very easy to get out of whack. Just ask the pros, who constantly monitor this fundamental. Fortunately, there’s a very easy method for lining up the clubface, then your body.
1. Stand directly behind the ball and choose your target, or where you want the ball to finish.
2. Find an object or spot, such as a broken tee or divot, directly on the line between ball and target. The spot should be no more than 2-3 feet in front of your ball.
3. Step to the shot, placing the clubhead behind the ball and aiming it at the spot.
4. Next, align your feet to match the clubface. The hips and shoulders should naturally line up with the feet.
If you continue to hit pull slices after getting your alignment straight, your problem may be one of the next two described.
Cause: Ball too far forward in the stance
When addressing a shot with the driver, the ball should be opposite your left heel. With each shorter club, the ball moves slightly closer to the center of your stance.
If you’ve got the ball too far left (forward), your swing will have arched around to the left by the impact point, resulting in a pull.
Cure: Move the ball back in your stance
Another seemingly simple chore, getting the ball positioned correctly is tougher than meets the eye. To practice proper ball positioning on the driving range:
1. Place a club on the ground pointed directly at your target.
2. Tee or place a ball just inside the target club, far enough so that your swing won’t hit it.
3. Lay a second club perpendicular to the target club and pointing directly at the ball. The butt end of the club should be a few inches inside the ball.
4. If hitting driver, set up with the inside of your left heel gently touching the second club. The ball is now properly positioned.
5. If you’re using a club that calls for a center ball position, align the second club/ball in the center of your stance, and so forth.
You can’t use this method on the golf course, but with enough practice you’ll get a sense of what proper ball position looks like at address. Use this tip to check your ball position regularly.
Cause: Casting the arms over-the-top
If your alignment and ball position are OK and you still hit that nasty pull slice, you’ve definitely got an outside-to-in swing path. The most likely reason is that your upper body, rather than your lower body, controls the downswing.
If your first move down is with the arms and shoulders, you’ll cast the club away from your body and outside the target line.
Cure: Lower body leads the downswing
A correct downswing sequence begins with the left foot pressing into the ground, pulling the hip toward the target followed in quick succession by the torso, shoulders and arms. Achieving this sequence is the key to developing an inside-to-outside swing path – the way nearly all pros and most high-level amateurs swing.
Watch these video tips to learn an inside-to-out path:
Is the Pull Slice a Playable Ball Flight?
Usually when you hear the word ‘slice’ in relation to golf, you want to run the other direction. It is well-known that a slice is one of the most common mistakes that amateur golfers make, and most sliced shots wind up in the water, the trees, out of bounds, etc. To put it simply, hitting a slice is something that most golfers want to avoid at all costs.
But what if it is a pull slice? Does that change your opinion of the shot? After all, hitting a pull slice means that the ball should end up relatively near your target – because the shot was pulled to the left off the club face, but then sliced back to the right in the air (for a right handed golfer). As long as the amount of slice on the shot mostly counteracts the amount of pull, you could be left with a rather useful shot when all is said and done. It might not be the prettiest shot to look at, but there are no pictures on the scorecard.
As long as the ball is near your target when it stops moving, that is all that matters.
So, is the pull slice a good ball flight to use then? Well, not so fast. Just as with most shots you can hit on the golf course, there are pros and cons to using this shot. You can absolutely hit some shots that end up in great position, but you will be fighting some challenges at the same time. While you will have a hard time finding a professional golfer who uses a pull slice as their go-to shot, that doesn’t mean that it can’t have a place in your game.
Because of the mechanics involved, the pull slice golf shot is likely to be found throughout your bag if you have the necessary swing characteristics. That means that if you hit a pull slice with driver, you are probably going to hit a pull slice with irons as well. Making a pull slice golf swing is something that is quite common among amateur golfers, even if they aren’t trying to do it. The best thing you can do is learn to understand the mechanics involved in a pull slice golf swing so you can decide what kind of changes (if any) you want to make to your swing going forward.
All of the instruction contained below has been created with a right handed golfer in mind. If you happen to be a left handed player, please be sure to reverse the directions so that they apply to your game properly.
Creating a Pull Slice
Before you can decide if you want to try and fix your pull slice golf shot, you first need to understand why it is happening. The cause of a pull slice is relatively simple to grasp once you stop to think about how the club is moving through the hitting area. There are two elements that combine to dictate the kind of shot that you are going to hit – the position of the club face at impact, and the direction that the club head is moving through the hitting area. The first of those is often referred to as ‘face angle’, while the second is usually called ‘path’. Controlling your face angle and path are really what the golf swing is all about.
In order to hit a pull, the club face must be facing to the left of the target at impact – it is that simple. The ball is going to jump off of the club in the direction that the club face is pointed, so when it is pointed to the left of your intended target, the shot is going to start out as a pull. The amount of pull that occurs is dependent on how far left the face of the club is pointing when impact is made. If the face is only a couple degrees left, for example, the shot won’t fly very far off line. However, if it is pointed dramatically to the left at impact, you will likely end up with quite an ugly shot.
The other element in question is club path through the hitting area. As your club head moves through the ball, what direction is it heading? If it is moving on a straight line right toward your target, that would be considered a perfect path (for hitting a straight shot). A golfer who can combine a perfectly square face angle with a perfect path toward the target would hit a straight shot time after time – although that is nearly impossible to achieve in the real world. The direction of your path through impact is going to determine what kind of spin is imparted on the ball, and what kind of curve the ball makes in the air. When the club is moving from left to right (as seen from behind the golfer), draw spin will result. If the club is moving from right to left, fade or slice spin will be the outcome.
Another way to think about path is to picture what the club head is doing as it approaches impact relative to your body. Is the club getting closer to you on the way through the ball? That is an out-to-in swing, or the same thing as a path that moves from right to left. Whatever you want to call it, the outcome is going to be a fade or a slice. If you are able to move the club away from you through impact, draw or hook spin is your result.
So, with all of that laid out, it should be obvious that the golfer who hits a pull slice has a closed club face in addition to a path that is moving closer to them through impact. Many golfers will refer to this as coming ‘over the top’. That means that the club moves up and away from the body at the top of the backswing, only to be pulled back in closer on the way down. The club slides across the ball at impact, imparting the left to right spin to counteract the closed face position. There are countless reasons why this occurs, but the result is the same – a shot that starts to the left of the target and quickly slices back to the right.
Does It Need to Be Fixed?
With most swing faults, there is no question that you want to fix the mistake that you are making in order to become a better player. However, in the case of the pull slice, it could be argued that you should just leave well enough alone. Despite the fact that you have to be making some technical mistakes in order to hit this shot, you are probably still able to play decent rounds of golf by pulling the ball left and letting it fade back to the right. Rather than trying to rebuild your swing and putting in all of the time and effort required to do so, you could leave it alone and instead dedicate your practice time to the short game.
So which option should you choose? The following three questions will help you make that decision.
- How much distance are you losing? When hitting a pull slice, it isn’t a question of if you are losing distance, but rather how much distance you are losing along the way. A straighter ball flight will certainly offer you more power, and a draw is probably your best bet for maximizing distance. However, that doesn’t mean you have to switch. If you only feel like your pull slice is costing you a few yards, you might not stand to gain enough by trying to change your swing. However, if you are wasting 20 or 30 yards off the tee thanks to the curved route you are taking to the fairway, the time might be right to get your mechanics straightened out.
- How big is the curve? There comes a point where the pull slice is simply too big and too hard to control. If your ball flight is starting way to the left of the target and having to slice back dramatically to stay in play, it is just going to be too hard to play consistently well. Only a small pull slice is one that you should consider leaving alone. In addition to making it hard to be accurate, playing a big pull slice just might not be possible in some scenarios – such as when there are trees lining the fairway. The course often dictates the kind of shots you are able to hit, and many courses won’t be very receptive to a large pull slice.
- How much time do you have to practice? You don’t need to work on your game every day to be able to fix a pull slice, but you are going to need to put in some quality practice time to fix your mechanics. If that isn’t time that you have available, or you just don’t want to practice that much, it is best to not even attempt to make the change. Going into a swing change with only a little practice time dedicated to it is likely to leave you in a worse position than you are currently. Only take on the changes if you are committed to seeing them all the way through to the end.
It is mostly a matter of degrees when considering what to do with your pull slice. A severe one is something that probably should be fixed if you have hopes of playing better and better golf as time goes by. With a smaller pull slice, however, you can still play good golf provided that it is consistent and you know how to control it around the course. Think about what your own ball flight looks like now and decide for yourself if making the mechanical changes necessary is something that you should embark on.
A Three-Step Process
If you have made the choice to try and fix your pull slice with driver and pull slice with irons, the following three step process is designed to help you find success as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that it is always best to stay off of the golf course while making a swing change and commit yourself solely to the practice area. When on the course, you will be tempted to give up on your swing changes to go back to what you are comfortable with. If you give in to this temptation, all of the work you have been doing could be lost.
The order of these three steps is important, so work on them in order and only move on when you are comfortable with the new technique that you have learned. Successfully integrating all three of these steps in your swing should make the pull slice a thing of the past.
- Stay on balance in the backswing. The vast majority of golfers who struggle with a pull slice are making what is called a ‘reverse pivot’ during their swing. That means that early in the backswing, they start to move their weight toward the target. Then, as the club starts to transition to the downswing, that weight moves back away from the target. Not only does this reverse motion rob you of all of your potential power, it also puts the club in a bad position and frequently leads to a pull slice. To solve this problem in your own swing, you need to work on the balance that you have within the first few moments of the backswing. As long as you stay on track at this point, it is unlikely you will develop a reverse pivot later in the swing. A good way to practice your early swing balance is to put your left foot up onto its toe at address and keep it there during the backswing. Since most of your left foot will be on the ground, you won’t be able to push weight onto it like you may have been doing previously. Don’t hit any actual shots with this drill – just make a few practice backswings until you understand the feeling of not getting extra weight onto your front foot. Ideally, you should be well balance throughout the backswing with an even distribution between both feet. That way, when the club transitions to the downswing, you can start turning toward the target and everything will be moving in the right direction.
- Maintain the position of your right arm. When you keep your right arm in the proper position throughout the swing, you won’t physically be able to get the club over the top – which is good news. Most players who fight a pull slice make the mistake of letting their right arm drift away from their torso during the backswing, which results in a position at the top that is too high and disconnected. From there, the weak outside-to-in hit is almost inevitable. Focus on keeping a good connection between your right arm and your torso during the backswing so you can set the club in a nice position at the top of the swing. At first you might feel like your swing is a little ‘cramped’ when you make this change, but stick with it and you will get more and more comfortable as you go.
- Left heel on the ground. As the club is moving down toward impact, focus on keeping your left heel down on the ground instead of rolling up onto your toes. Keeping your left heel down is a good sign that you have moved your weight successfully onto your lead leg, eliminating the chance of a reverse pivot. This should also help your balance, as is it hard to maintain a solid base when you are moving up and down onto your toes through the hitting area. Practicing hitting some short shots on the driving range while focused on the position of your left heel through impact. Gradually make these swings longer until you are hitting full shots with a stable left foot.
These three points might seem relatively simple, but they should be all you need to do in order to reduce or completely eliminate your pull slice. Rather than be overwhelmed by the overall task at hand when trying to change your swing, break it down into smaller chunks and tackle them one at a time. When you are confident that you have the first point handled correctly, move on to the next. This is the kind of systematic approach that can lead you to an improved ball flight in the very near future.
Getting Around the Course with a Pull Slice
There have been some helpful golf tips on pull slice offered above, but you may come to the decision that you are just going to stick with your current swing for now and make the best of it. If that is the case, you might benefit from a little direction on how to get the most out of your game while still playing a pull slice ball flight. You can always come back to the above golf tips on pull slice later and revamp your swing if you decide to do so. For now, give the following advice some consideration as part of your course management during your next round.
- Aim at the target. Most golfers who fight a slice learn over time to aim out to the left of the target so they can allow the slice to bring the ball back where they want it. However, if you are hitting a pull slice, that doesn’t necessarily apply to you. Your ball flight is starting left and then fading back right, meaning your aim should start out right where you want the ball to end up. During your practice sessions on the driving range, take care to work on your aim so that you can reliably point your club face at the target prior to each swing. Doing so will eliminate one variable from the game and help you to become more consistent.
- Avoid left pins. Assuming the pull slice is the only ball flight that you are comfortable hitting on a regular basis, you should make it a habit to avoid aiming directly at pins located on the left side of the green. Hitting a pull slice to this kind of hole location means hanging the ball out away from the green and hoping that it does come back just right. Instead, aim at the center of the green and play it safe. If the ball doesn’t slice much, you might end up closer than you expect – but if it does, you should still be on the green and have a putt at the hole.
- Think about positioning. Just like when playing billiards, you need to think at least one shot ahead on the golf course. When standing on the tee, picture not only the tee shot you want to hit, but also the second shot (and third on a par five). Working backward from the green, see how your shots can position you properly for the best results on that hole. The goal is to have a birdie putt as often as possible throughout the round, and good strategy can help you get there.
The pull slice isn’t the biggest problem you can have in your swing, and it is certainly possible to play some good rounds while using this ball flight. However, it does have limitations and it might get to a point where you decide to make swing changes in order to eliminate it. If that becomes the case, make sure you put in plenty of work on the practice range before taking your new and improved swing out onto the course for a test drive. Now that you have a good understanding of what the pull slice is, what causes it, and how it can be fixed, it is up to you to decide how to proceed.