Every slice is caused by the same basic impact position: The clubface is open relative to the path on which the clubhead is traveling. However, there are many different swing flaws that can create this unwanted combo.
The majority of golfers who slice suffer from one of three problems: 1) Poor alignment 2) Reverse pivot 3) “Casting” the club from the top.
Are you guilty of one of these faults? Here's the best tip for fixing each issue:
1. Poor alignment: Square up body and clubface
Many golfers adjust to the rightward flight of a slice by lining up farther left. Big mistake. This actually makes the problem worse by increasing the amount the clubface cuts across the ball.
Practice aligning your clubface directly at the target, with your feet, hips and shoulders parallel to this line. Follow this routine to get yourself lined up properly.
2. Reverse pivot: Two-step drill
In a correct golf swing, weight shifts to the right foot on the backswing, then to the left on the downswing and follow-through. Some golfers do the exact opposite, while others manage to shift their weight properly going back, but fail to get off the right side coming through. In either case, the clubface is open at impact.
The reverse pivot can be tough to conquer if it's ingrained. Luckily, there's a great way to beat it -- the “weight shift two-step drill.” You can practice this one at home, without a ball, for better, quicker results.
3. “Casting” the club: Pause drill
Question: What's your first move after completing the backswing? If you said, “Throwing the hands and arms at the ball,” you're guilty of casting the club.
When the upper body leads the downswing, the club flies away from the body and “across the line,” producing the dreaded outside-to-in clubhead path that virtually guarantees a slice. Instead, the left foot and hip should get things rolling.
The “pause at the top drill” takes some time to perform properly, but it can cure your casting issues and your slice for good.
Top 3 Ways to Cure Your Slice
It is hard to play good golf when you are consistently slicing the ball around the course. Sadly, millions of golfers already know this to be true, because they experience it every time they play. Golf is hard enough when you are using a relatively straight ball flight to attack each hole – it is nearly impossible when you have to play with a large curve in your trajectory. Rather than trying to get by while hitting your slice, the better plan is to confront this problem by looking for solutions on the driving range. If you can finally correct your slice once and for all through hard work on the range, your enjoyment of this great game will dramatically increase – and your scores will decrease at the same time.
If you would like to understand the significance of the slice in the game of golf, just spend some time watching other golfers practice at your local course. Most likely, if you watch 10 golfers hit practice balls for a few minutes, at least a few of them will be struggling to correct a slice. It is the most common swing fault in golf, and the competition isn't even close. Nearly every golfer in the world has had to deal with the slice at some point, even if it was only during the beginning stages of their golf experience.
There are a number of ways to create a slice in your game, which is a big part of why this ball flight is so common. If you allow the club to move too quickly to the inside during your takeaway, for example, you will be prone to a slice. Or, if you fail to lag the club properly in the downswing, a slice could be the result. Weight shift problems can lead to the slice as well. There are plenty of causes for this frustrating ball flight, but few solutions ever seem to be available. The average golfer doesn't know what they should be doing in order to eliminate their slice, which is why this issue continues to plague players all around the world.
In this article, we are going to hopefully help you put an end to this pattern. We will offer up three options for correcting your slice, so there is a good chance that you can find your way back to a straighter trajectory through the use of one of these ideas. Of course, you may have to try all three before you make any progress, so be patient and expect there to be some hard work involved along the way. Golf is a hard game, and meaningful improvements never come easy. It is possible to cure your slice, however, so prepare yourself to work hard and be excited about the idea of a slice-free future.
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.
Cure #1 – An Improved Takeaway
The takeaway is an important piece of the golf swing puzzle – yet it is completely ignored by many amateur golfers. Yes, the takeaway is only the first step in the swing, but it is a crucial first step if you would like to hit a quality shot in the end. Just as you can't run a marathon without first taking one step in the right direction, you can't make a good golf swing without getting off to an appropriate start.
Most golfers who struggle with the slice make the mistake of swinging the club too far to the inside during the takeaway. When an inside takeaway occurs, the club becomes 'stuck' in close to the body, and the entire backswing is narrow as a result. This might not feel like a problem on the way back, but the issue will quickly become clear when you transition into the downswing. As you move from backswing to downswing, the club is going to be forced up away from your body simply because there will be no room for it to come down on the inside. Your narrow backswing will have created no free space, so the only option is to go up over-the-top and swing down from the outside.
Once that over-the-top transition has occurred, your fate is sealed – you are either going to hit a big pull to the left, or a slice. It will be too late to save your swing with a last-second adjustment, as the path of your swing will already have been determined. For many golfers, this is exactly how a slice is created. By making just a minor mistake at the start when the club is taken away to the inside, the rest of the swing is ruined.
So how do you avoid an inside takeaway and the slice that comes with it? The best thing you can do on this point is to take your hands out of the action. Rather than using your hands and wrists to move the club back, you should be using your shoulders to rotate away from the target. If you keep your hands quiet while your shoulders do the work, it is almost certain that the club will trace an appropriate path going back. Your hands can get involved once the takeaway is completed. So, when the grip end of the club reaches approximately hip height or so, feel free to set your wrists and continue on with the swing.
While the fix for this swing problem seems relatively simple – just take your hands out of the takeaway – it is going to feel quite strange at first. You are probably very comfortable with your current takeaway, even though it is not mechanically sound. The only way to get comfortable with your new takeaway is to hit as many balls as possible. Do your best to practice on a consistent basis, and focus on making a proper takeaway with every swing. You should progress nicely over the coming weeks as long as you are able to practice at least a couple times per week.
Before we move on to the next section, it is important to point out how the fix for the slice, in this case, is actually the opposite of what you might expect. Many golfers fail to fix their slice simply because they don't believe that making a certain move could possibly fix their tendency to swing from outside-in. In this case, the fix involves taking the club back on a straight line, rather than taking it to the inside. Of course, you might think that seems backward at first since you are trying to stop approaching the ball from the outside. Wouldn't it be smart to take the club to the inside going back, to keep it far away from that outside-in track? No, because things change when you go through the transition at the top of the swing. To make progress, you are going to need to trust that this is the right fix – or, at least, it is potentially the right fix for your game. Give it a try on the range and you may find that you are suddenly able to hit straighter shots than ever before.
Cure #2 – Finishing the Backswing
You may already know that a big shoulder turn is one of the keys to a powerful swing. What you may not know, however, is that a big shoulder turn can also help you to avoid the slice. That's right – a great turn is not only effective for the purpose of building power, it is also a great help in the quest to keep the club on plane throughout the swing.
Many amateur golfers are guilty of cutting the backswing short in an effort to get the swing over with as quickly as possible. Nervous about the outcome of the shot they are hitting, some players rush through the swing – cutting their rotation short in the process. When the backswing is cut short, the club will never have a chance to quite get into position. It will be in an outside position when the transition occurs, and you will almost certainly cut across the ball at the bottom. Again, this path is going to lead to either a pull or a slice.
To make sure you do a good job of finishing your backswing on each and every swing, use the tips below.
- Left chin under your shoulder. This is one of the best swing keys you can use when hitting any full shot. As you address the ball, your chin should be up away from your chest and your shoulders should be relatively square to the target line. As the swing begins, focus on turning your shoulders to the point where your left shoulder is under your chin. If you can hit on this point, you can feel good about the length of your swing and your positioning for the downswing. This works perfectly as a swing thought because it is so simple and straightforward. You don't run the risk of crowding your brain with mechanics when you use this as your swing thought on the course. Make sure your shoulder finds its way under your chin during each swing and you will be far less likely to slice the ball.
- Take a deep breath. Taking a deep breath might not seem like something which would help you to make a better golf swing, but it really can make a difference. It all comes down to tempo – taking a deep breath before you walk up to start your swing can help you settle down and execute your tempo properly. If you are at all nervous or excited before your shot, it is likely that you will rush through your swing to get it over with as quickly as possible. It is difficult to strike the ball cleanly when you rush in this manner. By taking a deep breath, you will remind yourself to take your time. Even players who don't struggle with the slice can benefit from adding a deep breath to their technique.
- Don't slide. Many golfers believe there should be a lateral component to the golf swing – in other words, they think they need to slide away from the target in the backswing, and towards the target in the downswing. This is often referred to as a 'weight shift'. However, this is a myth. You don't want to be sliding during your swing, as the golf swing is a rotational motion. Yes, your body will wind up moving toward the target in the downswing, but that is only as a reaction to your powerful rotation. Key your swing on great rotation and any lateral movement will happen naturally as a side effect. To make sure you aren't sliding during the backswing, focus on the position of your right knee. If you can keep the right knee nicely in place throughout the backswing, you can be sure you are doing a good job of monitoring your balance. As a result, it will be far easier to complete your shoulder turn without having to compensate for a loss of balance.
In one way or another, all three of the points listed above will help you to finish your shoulder turn. And, when you finish your shoulder turn, you will be in a better position to avoid the slice. None of these three points alone will guarantee that you will not slice the golf ball, but bring them all together into a cohesive unit and you will have a pretty good chance at a straight shot.
Cure #3 – Hold Your Lag
The last of our three slice cures is by far the most difficult for the average amateur golfer to master. With even a small amount of effort, you should be able to correct the path you use during your takeaway. Likewise, you should be able to improve on your shoulder turn and overall rotation in the swing by using the advice in the previous section. However, when it comes to learning how to hold on to your lag in the downswing, you are in for a battle – there is no other way to say it.
So, what is lag? You can think of lag as the difference in position between your hands and the club head during the downswing. The angle you hold between your lead (left) arm and the shaft of the club on the way down is the lag you are using to hit the shot. Professional golfers use a significant amount of lag to generate impressive speed – amateur golfers often use little to no lag, which is why their shots lack power. In addition to losing power, failing to hold your lag will potentially cause a slice.
When you arrive at the top of the golf swing, there will be an angle formed between your left arm and the shaft of the club. Often, this angle is somewhere around 90*. It doesn't matter what angle is formed specifically, because there will be sufficient angle at the top as long as you have set your wrists on the way back. From the top of the swing, your job is to hold on to that angle for as long as possible. Ideally, you want to swing your hands down over the ball while still holding your lag. Then, as your hands get down toward impact, you can release the lag and a tremendous amount of power will be unleased into the ball. If you have ever wondered how professional golfers can hit such powerful shots while making swings that look so smooth, it is because they are leveraging the power of lag.
Lag works to create power because it allows you to save up your swing speed until the last possible moment. If you give up your lag at the top of the swing, you will be wasting speed that could have been used to move the club through the ball. Once your lag has been spent, you will be forced to drag the club through the hitting area – leading to a weak, ineffective shot. Players who struggle with a slice are also often the same players who lack enough power to get around the course. This is not a coincidence. By using up lag right at the top of the swing, you can drain your swing of power and also set yourself up to hit across the ball from outside-in at impact.
It is one thing to understand that you need to hold on to your lag in the downswing – it is another thing entirely to actually do so successfully. The feeling of holding your lag deep into the downswing is something that is tremendously uncomfortable at first. If you have spent your entire time as a golfer giving away your lag early in the swing, making the transition to holding your lag properly is going to be time-consuming and difficult. But it can be done.
To work toward a better downswing, start by hitting short pitch shots with your wedges. By hitting shorter shots, things will happen slower and you can get a feeling for how to hold the angle properly. If possible, spend several practice sessions hitting nothing but short pitch shots with great lag. As you gain confidence, gradually move up into longer and longer clubs. You should expect this process to be lengthy, but you should eventually find yourself with a full swing that is slice-free and offers plenty of power to take on any course.
Playing Golf Without a Slice
One of the biggest hurdles you will face in the process of eliminating your slice is the adjustments you need to make when you return to the course. Wiping out your slice once and for all on the range is an exciting development, but that progress might not translate into lower scores quite like you expect – at least, not at first. When you return to the course with a slice-free swing, you will need to make some adjustments before your scores will reflect your new skills. The following list includes some of the likely adjustments you will need to make.
- Rediscover your aim. When you played with a slice, you probably aimed to the left of every target, expecting the ball to curve back to the right in the air. Now that your slice is gone, you will need to learn how to aim all over again. Most likely, your new ball flight isn't going to be perfectly straight, so your new aim should account for the pattern you have found on the range. Are you hitting a small draw, or a little fade? Play for your new ball flight and pay careful attention to this detail until you are comfortable with your new style of play.
- Adjust to new distances. You will almost certainly hit the ball farther now that you have taken the slice out of your swing. This is good news, of course, but it does mean that you will have to adjust to your new numbers. If you previously would have used a 7-iron from 150 yards, you may now have to hit an 8-iron – or even a nine. These new yardages can't be discovered on the range, so the only way to learn how to pick clubs effectively is through trial and error on the course.
- Building trust. On the course, the biggest challenge in playing good golf is between the ears. If you can think logically as you play, and if you can trust your game, you should come out with a good score. It will take time to build confidence in your new ball flight, so don't expect brilliant results right away. Play a few rounds to build up your belief and your game should gradually round into form.
The slice is the biggest ball flight problem in the game of golf, but it doesn't have to stick around in your game forever. Use the tips provided throughout this article, along with plenty of hard work, to conquer this 'monster' once and for all. Good luck!