First, we have to define what a slice shot actually is. There are many senior golfers who are unclear on the definition.
A sliced ball flight begins left of the target before curving right in the air to finish well right of the target (for a right handed golfer). The most important part of this definition is the ball starts left of the target. If a senior golfer hits the ball right of the target and the ball moves further right in the air, this is a push slice and is caused by different swing faults.
A slice is caused when the club travels from an out-to-in swing path with the club face open to both the swing path and target. The out-to-in swing path causes the ball to start left of the target whilst the open club face to this path and target causes the ball to curve right and finish right of the target. If a senior is slicing as defined above then these three fixes should help straighten out the ball flight.
1. Because a slice is caused by an open face in relation to the target and swing path, the senior golfer should first check their grip for problems. A 'weak grip' will cause the club face to open through the swing and impact.
A weak grip is caused when the top hand is too underneath the club (this means as a senior looks down at address, they would only see one or two knuckles on the top hand), or when the bottom hand is too much on top of the club (this means as a senior looks down at address, they would only see three or four knuckles on the bottom hand).
The aim is to achieve a neutral grip in which when looking down, the golfer should see two and a half knuckles on the top hand with the V created by the thumb and forefinger pointing at the right shoulder (for right handed golfers).
On the bottom hand, the golfer should be able to see one and a half knuckles and the V formed by the thumb and forefinger pointing between the chin and right shoulder (for a right handed golfer).
This grip will give the senior golfer the greatest chance to square the club face at impact.
2. Rotate The Forearms Through Impact - Another reason the club face may open through impact is a lack of forearm rotation. As the club swings through the ball, the forearms should rotate and cross over. This squares the club face at impact. To help get this feeling, the senior golfer could practice the following drill:
Hit 20 balls with a 7 iron using a half swing and at impact, exaggerate the forearm rotation. If successful, the club face should point almost down at the ground halfway through the through swing. The senior golfer could even try and hit a hook or draw. After 20 balls with a half swing, try to work the same feeling into the full swing.
3. Correct Path - If a senior is slicing the ball, the club must be traveling from out-to-in (cutting across the body). To help achieve a correct club path from inside-to-square-to-inside, use the following drill:
Place a line of tee pegs or a box on the outside of the ball, and practice hitting shots sweeping the club head along the inside of the pegs/box. If the club hits the pegs/box, the golfer will get instant feedback to determine if their swing path is out-to-in.
If the senior can swing and avoid the pegs/box, they will have achieved an inside-to-square-to-inside swing path.
Slice Fixes for Senior Golfer
Unfortunately, even with all of the advances that have been made in golf equipment and golf instruction, the slice lives on. If you go to any of the golf courses or driving ranges near you, it will only take a few moments for you to find players who are struggling to correct a persistent slice. It is the single most-common ball flight problem in the game, as most players simply don't understand what they need to do in order to straighten out their shots. While the slice is a problem that hampers the efforts of players of all ages, it is particularly frustrating for senior golfers.
Senior golfers face a couple of specific challenges that make it more difficult for them to eliminate the slice once and for all. First, since most senior golfers have been playing the game for a considerable amount of time, they will have long-standing habits that need to be broken. It is one thing for a player who has only started golf recently to learn how to correct the slice – it is another thing entirely for a player who may have started 10,20, or ever 30 years ago. With so many years of bad swing habits to wash away, many senior players simply find it impossible to break out of their old tendencies.
The other problem faced by seniors who would like to eliminate the slice is the physical limitations that are experienced by many in this age group. Even a healthy and fit senior golfer will likely not have the same degree of flexibility and strength as a younger golfer – that is simply the reality of aging. This doesn't mean that it is impossible for senior players to get rid of the slice, but they are going to need to think about how they can do so within the limitations of what they can and can't do physically.
In the content below, we are going to review five potential fixes that senior golfers can use to eliminate the slice. None of these tips is likely to eliminate the slice on its own – it is likely that at least two or three of these tips will need to be brought together in order to finally solve this problem. If you are a senior golfer who has been fighting the slice for any period of time, the ideas below can help give you a purpose and direction for your upcoming practice sessions. It is hard to get better at any aspect of golf when you don't have a plan, so use these ideas to get down to work on making that pesky slice a thing of the past.
All of the instruction 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.
Open Up the Right Foot
One of the challenges that faces many senior golfers is a simple lack of flexibility. The body tends to lose flexibility as it gets older, which makes it harder to create the full turn that is usually associated with a good golf swing. If your backswing is getting shorter and shorter as you get older, it is likely a loss of flexibility that is to blame. While you might not be able to recover that flexibility going forward, you can modify your stance is order to get behind the ball properly at the top of the swing.
When you address the ball, try opening up your right foot about 15 or 20 degrees from its normal square position. To do this, start by setting your right foot perpendicular to the target line, and then simply turn it open before starting your swing. By opening up that right foot, you should find that it is easy to rotate away from the target in the backswing, as your right knee will have more room to move (meaning your back won't have to bear as much of the rotational force). This kind of stance might feel slightly uncomfortable at first, but you should find that it quickly becomes natural with just a little bit of practice.
So, how does this adjustment help you eliminate the slice? It comes down to what happens at the top of the swing. When you transition from backswing to downswing, the club needs to drop nicely into the 'slot' in order to approach the ball from the inside. If you make this move the right way, it will be virtually impossible to hit a slice (because the club will be coming from the inside). However, if you fail to let the club drop and it moves up and over the top instead, you will be on track for an ugly slice. While this might seem like a problem that is completely within your hands and arms, it actually stems from a rotational problem with the rest of your body.
If you are unable to make a full turn in the backswing, your body will still be in the way when you try to drop the club to the inside. With no space to make a swing down into the ball, the club will be forced to move up and over, simply so it has room to get to the ball. When that happens, you will hit from outside-in, and you will usually create a slice. Therefore, one of the best things you can do to eliminate your slice is simply to make a bigger turn. By getting your shoulders to turn fully away from the target in the backswing, you will be creating plenty of space for the club to swing down coming forward. Since you may be dealing with limited flexibility as a senior player, opening up that right foot is a great way to accomplish this goal. Your adjusted stance should provide for a bigger turn, which will help the club fall into place, and your swing path in the downswing should be improved as a result.
Focus on Tempo
While you probably think of your slice as a mechanical problem – and it might be – it is also possible that this swing issue is stemming from a problem with your tempo. The tempo and rhythm of your golf swing is incredibly important, yet many people overlook this part of the game while they are focused in on mechanics. Only when you can combine proper mechanical fundamentals with a nice rhythm will you be able to hit good golf shots on a regular basis. You might be able to get by on the driving range without great tempo, but that flaw will quickly expose you on the course. It is your tempo that will allow you to play well over the course of an entire round, so make sure you put this part of the swing high on your priority list.
Tempo has the ability to cause trouble in the way of a slice because a bad tempo will usually cause you to cut your backswing short. So, much in the same way that limited flexibility can lead to a slice due to a short backswing, so too can a poor tempo. When you hurry to get through your swing, the backswing will get shorter and you will run out of time and room at the top to pull the club down into position. Those who rush the tempo are prone to moving the club over the top in the transition, which is the classic way to create a slice.
Senior golfers are particularly at risk for a poor tempo because they tend to get in a hurry on the course. If you have been playing the game for many years, you aren't going to see many things that surprise you during a round of golf – so there is a tendency to rush through things without paying attention to detail. In this way, your experience can work against you when it comes to trying to eliminate the slice. Golf is a hard game that requires attention to detail no matter how much experience you may have. If you take your tempo for granted because of your experience on the course, it is likely to come back to bite you in the end.
The best way to iron out your tempo problems is to head to the driving range to work specifically on this point. Make an effort to slow down the overall pace of your swing while still providing plenty of power through the hitting area. A slower tempo doesn't necessarily mean shorter shots on the course, as long as you are accelerating aggressively when you arrive at impact. Make it a point to spend more time in your backswing that you have been recently and there is a good chance that your slice will quickly become a thing of the past.
Address Position Problems
Earlier, we talked about how you can adjust the position of your right foot in order to correct your slice. While that is certainly a helpful tip, it is only one way in which your address position can affect your ability to hit the ball straight. If you are failing to get lined up properly when you address the ball, you could actually be standing in a way that will promote a slice – even if the rest of your swing is in order. Your stance plays a crucial role in your game as a whole, so be sure to work hard on getting in just the right position before you start the swing.
The biggest mistake you can make in your stance when it comes to promoting a slice is standing with your feet in an open position as compared to your shoulders. So, for example, if you stand with your shoulders square to the target line and your feet open, you will be promoting a slice. The club is going to want to swing down along the line that has been established by your feet, and since your feet are open to the line, the club is going to be moving across the ball from right to left – meaning a slice is the inevitable result.
To protect against this kind of outcome, you want to make sure you are pairing up your shoulders and feet at address. For most shots, you will want to keep both your shoulders and feet square to the target line that you have selected. On some shots, if you want to produce a draw or a fade, you may choose to open or close that stance, but the shoulders and feet need to be paired together. On the range, work on checking the position of your shoulders and feet prior to starting your swings to make sure they are working together nicely. As long as you can keep this point under control during your practice sessions, you should have no issue with it during rounds out on the course.
Get the Right Gear
Believe it or not, having the correct equipment in your bag can go a long way toward eliminating a slice. On this point, it isn't so much the club head that you need to worry about as it is the shafts that you are using. With the right shafts in your clubs, you can make a natural swing through the ball while knowing that the shaft will bend appropriately at the right time. However, if the shafts that you are using a too stiff or too soft, you may have to adjust your technique accordingly. And, when you start adjusting your swing to match up with your equipment (instead of doing things the other way around), you are bound to run into a variety of problems.
Most often, it is players who are using shafts that are too stiff who will run into problems with the slice. When you use a shaft that is too stiff for your swing speed, you may find that you try to 'force' the action at the top of your swing – and you come over the top as a result. The transition from backswing to downswing should be a smooth, gradual motion which is not rushed or forced in any way. However, if your shafts are too stiff, you are going to try to swing harder than normal in order to get the club to bend properly. That extra effort will throw your swing path and tempo out of whack, and you may find that you are hitting a slice as a result.
To make sure you are using clubs that are well-suited to your swing, consider going to your local golf shop for a club fitting. Most golf facilities have club fitting technology which will analyze your swing and provide you with feedback that can be used to pick out the perfect shaft. The input of the computers used during a club fitting, along with the experience and knowledge of a professional club fitter, will allow you to get into a club that is just right for your game. Golf is hard enough even when you have the right gear – it can be nearly impossible when you are fighting against your own clubs. Of course, fixing your slice by tracking down equipment that is a better fit for your swing will cost some money, but that investment should pay off for you in the way of better performance on the course.
You aren't going to be able to buy your way out of most of your swing problems in the game of golf, but this is one case where purchasing new gear just might help you play better golf. Before you rush out to buy new clubs, however, make sure that you really do have a problem with your equipment before you start spending money. This is why the club fitting is so important at the start of the process. If you go through the fitting and learn that there really isn't any issue with the compatibility between your swing and your clubs, you can check this point off of the list and move on to other things.
Fix Your Takeaway
The last point on our list of fixes for the slice just might be the one that helps the most golfers. The takeaway is a crucial part of the golf swing process, yet it is something that is largely overlooked by most players. If you have a faulty takeaway, it can easily cause you to hit a slice when you return back down to impact. Getting your swing off to a good start is essential, and that means making a good takeaway.
Most players who fight the slice get into trouble right from the start when they bring the club too far to the inside in the takeaway. This happens because the hands are too active as the swing begins, causing the wrists to hinge and the club head moves in close to the body. Now that the club is in close, it will stay that way until you reach the top of the swing – which is when the trouble begins. Since the hands and the club are in close to your body, you won't have any room to drop the club inside for the swing down. So, as a result, you will swing up and over the top, and you will wipe across the ball at impact. All of that adds up to a slice, and a pattern that is going to repeat itself over and over again.
It is a surprise to some golfers that a problem which seems so difficult to solve actually has such an easy solution. If it is the takeaway that is at the root cause of your slice, all you will need to do is fix that takeaway and everything else should start to fall into place. The first step in making that fix is taking your hands out of the takeaway. You shouldn't be using your hands actively in the takeaway at all – this part of the swing should be controlled by a simple rotation of the shoulders away from the target. As your shoulders turn, the club will come along for the ride, even if your hands aren't actively doing anything at all. This is the way the swing should work for the first foot or so going back, before the hands eventually get involved to lift the club up into position.
You should note that changing your takeaway is something that is going to take some practice. It is possible to see good results on the range rather quickly, but you shouldn't expect to find success on the course until you have had time to engrain this new habit into your swing. Do you best to rehearse this improved takeaway motion on a regular basis so that it has a chance to become comfortable. With comfort will come confidence, and when you start feeling confident in the motion is when you will start to see results.
The nice thing about working on your takeaway is that the progress that you make in this part of your game should translate nicely over to the rest of your game. For instance, a quiet takeaway is a great thing in the short game, so you might find that your putting and chipping quickly improve once you have changed your takeaway successfully. Most important, however, is the fact that your slice should now be a thing of the past. It is hard to slice the ball while using a good takeaway, so make sure you check this point off as early as possible.
There is no reason for senior golfers to have to struggle with the slice. Sure, golf might get a bit more difficult as you get older, but it certainly isn't impossible to play great rounds in your later years. With the right technique and an understanding of how you can adjust your swing to account for your age, you should be able to continue hitting beautiful shots for years to come.