The slice is a ball flight pattern that negatively impacts golfers of all ages.

Senior Slice Lesson by PGA Teaching Pro Dean Butler

From senior players all the way down to youngsters just getting started on the links, it’s not hard to find players at your local course struggling with this issue. For a right-handed golfer, a slice is a shot that curves wildly from left to right as it flies. It’s hard to hit your targets accurately with this kind of ball flight, and it’s also difficult to get any kind of meaningful distance on your shots. To reach your goals on the course, whatever those may be, you will almost certainly need to find a way to correct your slice.

With this article, we’d like to provide you with an overall lesson on the slice. What does that mean? First of all, we are going to start with an in-depth description of the slice. You probably already know what a slice looks like, but where does it come from? Why does the ball turn so dramatically from left to right once it leaves your club? Why is this pattern so common in the amateur game? It’s important to firmly grasp the issues that lead to a slice if you are actually going to correct yours once and for all.

In addition to offering this slice education, we will also get into some tips regarding how you can fix your slice, and we’ll address some issues that are specific to senior players. Should you expect to be able to immediately eliminate your slice after reading this article? No – unfortunately not. This ball flight problem is notoriously difficult to correct, so plenty of practice time on the range is going to be required. However, we hope this article proves to be a solid first step on your way to 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.

Understanding the Slice


With any kind of problem, you need to understand the problem completely before you can successfully find a fix. Attempting to solve a problem before you understand it is nothing other than a waste of time. The good news here is this – it’s not too difficult to understand how the slice works, as long as you are willing to take a few minutes to educate yourself and think it through.

To get started, you need to understand that the ball is going to turn in the same direction that it is spinning as it flies through the air. So, in the case of the slice, the ball is curving to the right because it is spinning from left to right. A moderate spin rate from left to right will lead to a fade, but that fade will quickly turn into a slice as the spin rate is increased. If you are currently dealing with a slice, one of your top objectives in the game of golf should be to decrease your sidespin rate in order to straighten out your shots.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to completely eliminate all of the left to right spin on your shots. There is nothing wrong with playing a fade, as a fade can be an extremely useful ball flight when deployed properly. Unfortunately, players who are hitting a wild slice are usually not close to playing a controlled fade. The type of swing that creates a slice has some fundamental flaws which need to be corrected, meaning plenty of work has to be done before a slice can turn into a reliable fade that you can trust.

At this point, we know that a slice is the result of a shot that is spinning rapidly from left to right. To move forward with our discussion on the topic, let’s work through a few bullet points –

  • Spin moves opposite of swing path. One of the key fundamental elements of the game of golf is that the ball is going to spin opposite of how the club moves through the hitting area. So, when you are hitting a slice, which features left to right spin, that means the club is moving from right to left through the ball. This is the classic pattern that is demonstrated by every slicer – the club moves across the ball at impact, getting closer to the player’s body as it moves toward the target. Cutting across the ball in this manner is fundamental to producing the slice. If you can remove this mistake, it’s almost certain that your slice will become a thing of the past. As you’ll see later in the article, however, making this change is easier said than done. Not only is this concept important to remember in terms of fixing your slice, but it will also help you manage your ball flight as you work on learning new shots on the range.
  • Aiming left can make things worse. On the surface, it makes sense to aim a little bit left when you are hitting a slice. After all, the ball is curving to the right, so why not aim a little left in order to compensate for that flight pattern? That might seem like a good idea, but in the end, you’ll likely wind up swinging even farther across the ball than you would have if you aimed square to the target line. Many slicers get into a pattern of aiming a bit left to compensate for the slice, which leads them to swing a little more across the ball. Then, they aim even farther left, and swing even more across the ball. As this pattern replicates itself over and over again, the player eventually winds up with a huge slice and no idea how to work his or her way back to the beginning. Do your best to resist the temptation to aim left and instead work on the underlying swing issues that are causing you to get off track in the first place.
  • What happens at the bottom starts at the top. It could be said that the only part of the swing that really matters is the moment when the club strikes the ball. This is, after all, the moment of truth, since it is when the outcome of your shot will be determined. However, the moves you make earlier in the swing are going to directly impact how the club moves through the ball, so it would be a mistake to take those earlier stages for granted. With regard to the slice, the action of moving the club across the ball at the bottom typically can be traced back up to the top of the swing. The top of the swing is often known as the ‘transition’, as this is the time when you move from backswing to forward swing (or downswing). In a swing that is working properly, the club will fall down toward the ground slightly during the transition, dropping into position so you can turn through the shot and swing (roughly) straight down the line. For a slicer, the first move from the top is usually to push the club up and away from the body, getting into a position that will inevitably lead to swinging across the ball at impact. This is known throughout the world of golf as an ‘over the top’ swing. You can get away with a variety of mistakes in the golf swing while still producing reasonable results, but it’s hard to hide from an over the top swing. If you are moving the club over the top during your transition, you can bet that a slice is going to be the likely outcome.

One of the biggest hurdles to clear in the struggle to get rid of the slice is going to be mental rather than physical. As you continue to see the ball fly to the right of your targets, and you get more and more frustrated, you may feel like you need to pull the club across the ball to the left in order to stop those misses on the right. Of course, as you should know by now, trying to pull the club to the left is only going to make things worse. Hard as it may be, you need to swing out to the right in order to break this pattern and change the spin on your ball. Only when you learn to trust the fact that swinging out toward the right – or, at least, straight down the line – is the right answer will you be able to make meaningful strides.

Steps You Need to Take

Steps You Need to Take

We’ve covered a lot of ground so far, but we still haven’t provided you with any actual steps for what you can do to get rid of the slice. In this section, we’ll offer some simple ideas that you can put to the test in your own game. Remember, every golf swing is unique, meaning the tips below may or may not hit the spot for you. This is a game of trial and error, so don’t be discouraged if the first couple of things you try don’t seem to yield results. Keep at it and keep trying different solutions until you find something that gives you the desired outcomes.

  • Make a wider backswing. This is one of the best tips a slicer can receive. We mentioned earlier that it is an over the top move which leads to so much trouble. If you are going to get rid of that over the top error, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have enough room to drop the club to the inside during the transition. A wide backswing is the way to provide yourself with the necessary room to drop the club into the downswing successfully. Basically, you want to turn your upper body away from the target without using your hands or arms in an active manner. Let your arms just go along for the ride while your shoulders drive the backswing. When this is executed properly, the club will remain well away from your body as you swing back, and you’ll have plenty of space to work with at the top. Narrow backswings are extremely common in the amateur game, which is a large part of why the slice is seen so frequently. Get rid of your narrow backswing and it’s entirely possible that your slice will resolve itself from there.
  • Slow down the transition. Part of getting the transition right is going to come down to timing. Most golfers rush at the top, which is another error that encourages the club to move up over the top – and eventually across the ball at impact. You need to give your lower body time to get started toward the target, so try to resist the temptation to rush the action. This won’t be easy, since you might be a little nervous or anxious about the result of the shot. During practice, think about letting the club ‘hang’ at the top of the swing for just a moment. If you feel like you are pausing slightly, your lower body should have the time it needs to start turning nicely to the left. It is that lower body turn that is going to drop the club into position, and it will also supply you with a nice amount of power. Work on improving this part of your swing by working on hitting short shots first, and gradually work your way up into longer and longer clubs as you get the hang of it.
  • Hang on to your angle. Of all the things we will mention in this article, this point is likely the most difficult to actually improve on in your game. At the top of your backswing, there is an angle formed between your left arm and the shaft of the club. Ideally, you will be able to maintain that angle deep into the downswing, only letting it go at the last moment, turning loose impressive power as the club accelerates through the ball. That’s called ‘lagging’ the club, and it is one of the big keys to producing power in the golf swing. Many amateur golfers, including most slicers, have trouble maintaining their lag. To work on this, try making small, slow swings in practice while focusing on nothing but holding the angle.

You can’t expect to fix your slice without spending some quality time on the driving range. Sure, it’s fun to get out on the course with your friends, but you need to first figure things out on the range if you want to make progress on the slice. Try the ideas above and hopefully you’ll start to see things straighten out sooner rather than later.

The Slice and Senior Golfers

The Slice and Senior Golfers

As you are certainly aware, golfers of all ages can deal with the slice. In fact, you may have had a slice long before you were in the senior category. However, there are certain things about being a senior golfer that may make you a little more prone to slicing the ball. The points below touch on some of the issues that senior golfers can run into regarding the slice, so you can be aware of them and take notice if they start to impact your game.

  • A shorter turn. One of the common issues faced by senior golfers is a loss of flexibility and a shorter backswing turn as a result. Making a slightly shorter swing really isn’t a big deal on its own, as you may lose a few yards of distance, but that is about it. There is no reason you can’t play quality golf while making a somewhat short turn. The problem, however, comes in when you let that short turn translate into a rushed tempo. Some golfers, when they feel that they aren’t turning back quite as far as they used to, will wind up rushing as a result. This is likely because they are trying to force the action and squeeze out as much possible swing speed as they can. That kind of effort simply isn’t necessary. Instead, do your best to maintain a nice, controlled rhythm, even if you aren’t turning back quite as far as you did in your younger days.
  • Using the wrong clubs. If you are using a club shaft which is too stiff, or just too heavy, for your swing, you will struggle to get the ball up off the ground. When that happens, you might feel like you need to use your hands a little more during the swing in order to ‘help’ the shot. This isn’t really going to do anything to overcome the fact that you are using the wrong clubs, but it just might lead you into a slice pattern. This is an issue that is particularly common for senior golfers because they may still be using clubs that were a good fit when they were younger. Be sure to work with your local pro shop or golf store to find clubs that suit your needs nicely and will help, rather than hurt, you on the course.
  • Looking for those extra yards. We alluded to this earlier, but it is a big issue and deserves its own section. When a senior golfer starts to think that longer shots are the path to lower scores, it may be that some fundamental elements of the swing will be lost. That might not immediately mean a slice is the outcome, but you could trend in that direction if this pattern continues. Do your best to stay away from the ‘distance first’ mindset, as there is far more to golf than just hitting long shots. Learn how to position your ball in the right places, and polish your short game, and you could improve your scores even while losing distance.

Hopefully, you won’t find yourself struggling with a slice as a senior player. If you do, we hope the tips provided in this section will give you a starting point as you get down to work on this problem.

Closing Thoughts

Closing Thoughts

The slice is frustrating. As much as you need to fix the physical flaws in your swing in order to get on track, you also need to change the way you think about your game. Most likely, if you hit a slice frequently, you have a pretty negative feeling about your game as a whole. That’s understandable, but it is also self-defeating. You need to find a way to believe in yourself and believe in your ability to get your game on track once again. Where is that belief going to come from? Sometimes, all it takes is a single shot. Hitting even one shot during a practice session that flies straight and feels great coming off the club is proof enough that you can do it. From there, you’ll just need to learn how to replicate those good swings more and more frequently. It's not easy, but it can be done.

Don’t let the slice define you as a golfer. Even while you are working on making this correction, you can still take pride in other parts of your game, such as the short game or course management. Do as much right as you can on the links while waiting for your slice to be resolved. Then, once are hitting the ball more accurately, you’ll have a great overall package that leads to some impressive results.

We hope this article has given you plenty of ideas for how you can solve your slice once and for all. There is certainly no guarantee that this is going to be a quick process, as golf is a tough game and making any kind of improvement usually takes time. However, if you see it through and keep working on your technique, it can be quite rewarding to straighten out your ball flight and wipe out that dreaded slice. Good luck and here’s to many years of straight shots to come!