Golf Slot: The Key Position to Groove Your Swing

Golf Slot

You've heard of an athlete being “in the zone.” In golf, you'll never visit that magical realm unless your swing is “in the slot.”

What is the golf slot? Nothing mysterious or elusive, really. Doesn't even require a pro's talent to find it. The slot is simply a position halfway into the downswing where the right elbow (for a right-hander) is tucked close to the right hip and the club is tracking a path to the ball from inside the target line.

Every pro golfer's swing is built to put the club in this slot. An inside angle of attack – aka an inside-to-out swing path – is necessary to draw the ball. It also maximizes power by compressing the ball against the clubface in a way that's practically impossible if your swing is outside-to-inside (aka “over the top”).

Most avid amateur golfers know an inside-out path is preferred. Many are familiar with the “slot” concept as well. Yet few actually achieve this coveted position because, after reaching the top of the backswing, their first move down is with the shoulders and arms. This “casting” motion sends the club above or outside the correct downswing plane, robbing them of power and causing slices, pulls and sometimes topped shots.

This isn't purely a downswing problem, though. In fact, it starts with the backswing.

Many amateurs fail to make a full, correctly balanced turn away from the ball. Their shoulders don't rotate enough, and too much of their weight remains on their left side at the top of the swing. From here, it's natural for the upper body to control the downswing.

The classic checkpoints for a full backswing turn are to rotate the shoulders to reach a 90° angle to the target line (with the hips at about 45°), with 75 – 80% of your weight on the right side (centered over the inside of the right foot). From here, you're poised to start the downswing with a target-ward shift of the lower body.

Now, here's the big key: During the downswing, your back should face the target for as long as possible. You may feel a stretching sensation in your back as the lower body “separates” from the upper body. With your lower body in the lead, the shoulders and arms hang back, dropping the club into the slot for a powerful inside attack.

Here are a couple of simple drills to instill a proper downswing sequence and get your swing in the golf slot.

Pull-down Slot Drill

Pull-down Slot Drill

  • Pick any club and set up to the ball.
  • Make a full backswing turn, with 75 – 80% of your weight on the right side at the top.
    Pause for a second or two.
  • Slowly swing down until your hands reach waist height. Remember, you should feel as though your back faces the target for as long as possible.
  • At this point, your right elbow close to your right hip.
  • Without resetting, take the club back to the top and pull down three more times with a quicker pumping action.
  • On the fourth pump, hit the ball and swing through to the finish.

This drill can be practiced without a ball as well.

Wall Slot Drill

Wall Slot Drill

  • Using any club and standing with your back about 1 ½' from a wall, assume your address position.
  • Swing to the top and allow the clubhead to rest against the wall. You may need to adjust your distance from the wall depending on your swing plane.
  • Swing down very slowly with clubhead touching the wall until your hands reach hip height.
  • That's what it feels like to be “in the slot.”

When conducting both drills, it's important to keep your back to the target. This assures that your lower body leads while the shoulders uncoil slowly.

Golf Slot: The Key Position to Groove Your Swing

Golf Slot: The Key Position to Groove Your Swing

In many ways, the golf swing is quite complicated. After all, there is a lot to think about during the swing, and you have to make a number of different moves with your body in order to strike solid shots. Golf is one of the most challenging games in the world for good reason – playing well requires you to master swing techniques which can be overwhelmingly complicated to the new player. Plenty of experience is required, along with plenty of practice time, in order to produce good scores round after round.

With all of that said, there are certain things about the golf swing which are quite simple. That is certainly the case when it comes to the ideal position for your club during the downswing. As the club moves from the top of the swing down toward the ball, you want to place it 'in the slot'. If you can find the slot time after time, you will be well on your way to quality ball striking. Of course, that is a bit easier said than done, so you are going to need to spend some time practicing on the range before you can nail down exactly where the slot is and how you can find it.

It is important to learn how to find the slot because this is a skill you will use on every single full swing shot you hit around the course. No matter what club you happen to be holding, moving the club into the slot on the way down is going to help you achieve a powerful, accurate strike. The amazing thing about swinging down properly in the slot is the fact that you can hit the ball so consistently with this fundamental in place. Even if there are a few other issues in your swing which need to be worked out, your game will be fairly reliable simply due to your use of the slot.

In this article, we are going to help you understand the concept of swinging down in the slot. Once you know what this means and why it is important, we will then help you find it for yourself. Compared to other golf swing topics, this piece of the puzzle is relatively simple, as long as you are willing to pay attention to the small details. It will be worth your time and effort to get things right on this point, since it is so important in the grand scheme of the swing. Find the slot and everything else will fall into place nicely.

If you watch golf on TV, you know that the swings of professional golfers vary greatly from one player to the next. There are many ways to get the job done on the course, as is evidenced by how many different methods are used by top pros. However, there is no variation when it comes to putting the club in the slot. Every pro golfer you see on TV is using the slot to his or her advantage, and you should be doing the same.

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.

What Does It Mean to Be in the Slot?

What Does It Mean to Be in the Slot?

If you have heard this term tossed around on the driving range before, you might have wondered what it meant to be swinging the club in the slot. Simply put, the slot refers to the position of the club when it is approximately halfway through the downswing. On the way down, the club should be in a specific position relative to the ball in order to be considered in the slot. Specifically, when the club is halfway down, you want to have the butt of the grip pointing at the ground just inside the ball. When that is the case, you can be sure you have found the slot successfully.

With the club slotted nicely, it will be easy to rip the club head through the hitting area, knowing the ball is going to be sent toward the target properly. Unfortunately, most players are not in the slot on the way down, instead swinging with a plane which is either too steep or too flat. When you miss the slot, you have to make some sort of correction in order to save the shot – and those kinds of corrections are rarely successful. You might be able to hit a good shot from time to time with this method, but you will never be as consistent as you would like. Make no mistake – golf is extremely hard when you are playing from outside of the slot.

As you may already be thinking, it can be tough to evaluate your success on this point while making a swing. After all, the downswing takes just a fraction of a second to complete, so you don't exactly have time to check on the position of the club as you swing through. Also, your view from above isn't very good for checking on the slot. Ideally, you would be able to see your swing from behind, as this perspective is perfect for determining whether or not you hit the slot. This is where video comes into the picture.

These days, nearly everyone has the capability to take video recordings right on their phone. Assuming you have a smart phone with such capability, you already have what you need to be your own golf coach. During your next practice session, ask a friend to record a few of your swings while standing safely behind you (on an extension of the target line). After you have captured a few recordings, take a moment to watch the tape and see what you can learn. Are you hitting the slot in your downswing? It may be too tough to tell watching the recording at full speed, so try to pause the video when your club is halfway between the top of the swing and impact.

It is common for amateur golfers to be in a position which is too steep on the way down. This comes as the result of making an 'over the top' move in the transition, and it is inevitably leading to a slice. If you see that the butt end of your club is pointing down toward your toes in the downswing (instead of pointing near the ball), it is a good bet you have come over the top. You are going to need to fix that transition mistake before you can get into the slot successfully.

Golf is never going to be an easy game, but you might be surprised to find how easy your ball striking can feel when you find the slot. To many golfers, this almost seems like the hidden 'secret' in golf – delivering the club on the proper path time after time is a powerful discovery. Players who use the slot effectively tend to control their ball flight nicely, they usually hit with plenty of power, and they almost always play at a consistent level from round to round.

The Key to the Slot

The Key to the Slot

It is usually an exaggeration to say that one single move can do anything great for you in the game of golf. After all, the swing is made up of a number of different moving parts, meaning you will have to stitch everything together nicely if you are going to hit quality shots. However, when it comes to the specific act of moving the club into the slot in the downswing, there really is one move which is the key to the whole action. If you can master this one move, the slot will be sure to follow.

So, what is that magic move? From the top of the backswing, you need to bring your right elbow immediately down into your side. That's it. If you can manage to make that move successfully, the club should follow into the slot with ease. Of course, you already know that it is not going to be that easy. It is one thing to have a simple instruction for what to do within your swing – it is another thing to make it happen. Everything in golf sounds easier when you read it on the internet as compared to when you head out to the driving range for a practice session. In theory, though, this is an easy move. Bring your right elbow down into your side from the top of the swing and the club will be slotted nicely for the rest of the move.

If you are going to head out to the range to work on this move, keep the following points in mind.

  • Need to finish the backswing first. It is possible to get in such a hurry to move your elbow down into your side that you forget to actually finish your backswing. Don't make that mistake. You can't start down until you have finished your turn, so commit to great shoulder rotation prior to any kind of downswing action. It takes patience to finish your turn completely, especially when hitting a long club like the driver. As you practice, discipline yourself to finish the backswing fully before you think about bringing that right elbow down.
  • Right hand stays out of the action. While moving your right elbow down into your hip is a great start, you can ruin your progress by using your right hand to force the club down toward the ball at the same time. This move is all about your right elbow, and your right hand needs to stay out of the picture for the time being. You will waste all of your lag angle if you use your right hand from the top. Such a mistake would be a waste of potential power, and it would put the club into a steep position as well. The sooner you can teach your right hand to be inactive during this part of the swing, the sooner you can see great results from getting into the slot.
  • Don't slide. When you move your right elbow down into your side, it might be tempting to slide your body to the left at the same time. That would be a mistake, however, as you should be rotating to the left rather than sliding. The golf swing is a rotational action, and too much lateral motion can ruin everything else that you are doing right. At the same time that you are bringing your right elbow into your body, you should be turning your lower body to the left aggressively. This combination of a powerful lower body turn and dropping the club into the slot could lead to the best shots of your life.

As you can see, things are already getting more complicated as it relates to our 'magic move'. Yes, the main idea is to bring your right elbow in to your hip, but there are some other points which you need to hit on as well. Making a mistake on one or more of these points might not completely ruin your swing, but it will limit the kind of results you can achieve.

Signs of Trouble

Signs of Trouble

One of the many important skills you need to have in the game of golf is the ability to spot trouble in your game. If you ignore trouble spots within your technique, you will never manage to reach your highest level of performance on the course. When it comes to the topic of the slot, you should be aware of the warning signs that something may be amiss. If you notice any of the points below popping up in your game, there is a good chance that you are missing the slot more often than not.

  • Divots pointing to the right or left of the target. There is a lot you can learn from the pattern of your divots. When playing an iron shot from the fairway, you should leave a divot which points more or less in the direction of the target. The divot may be aimed slightly to one side or the other, but it should be pretty close to lined up with your target. Should you happen to notice that your divots are way off line – either pointing to the left or the right – there is certainly a problem to be solved in your downswing. Get into the habit of checking your divots after every shot so you don't miss an obvious sign of trouble in your game.
  • Shanks. No golfer likes to talk about the shanks, but you will need to recognize their presence if they become a problem in your game. If you start to shank the ball from time to time, it is likely that you are swinging down on a flat plane. You are missing the slot to the inside, and you are exposing the hosel of the club to the ball at impact. If you can steepen your angle of attack and move the club shaft into the slot, your problems with the shank should be a thing of the past.
  • Dramatic ball flights. No golfer is able to hit the ball perfectly straight shot after shot. All players need to use an intentional curve as a way to move the ball in toward the target. However, if your shots are curving dramatically, either from right to left or left to right, you should know that something is wrong with your swing path. The club must be attacking the ball from an odd angle to create so much side spin, so get back to working on the fundamentals of finding the slot in order to straighten out your trajectory. It is nearly impossible to play good golf when you are curving the ball in a significant fashion, so do yourself a favor and get right to work on taking away some of your side spin.

It is necessary for every golfer to monitor his or her game on a constant basis. You can never just settle in and play golf for years without paying attention to your technique, as things are sure to change over time. Parts of your swing will evolve, and new problems will always be developing. It is your job to keep track of your own swing and make the adjustments needed to keep yourself on the right track. Whether it relates to the slot or any other part of the swing, don't let new problems go unchecked for long. The longer you wait to correct a problem, the harder it will be to fix that problem in the end.

If you think something is wrong within your swing, but you can't manage to find the fix on your own, don't hesitate to get help from a qualified professional. Contact a teaching pro at your local course and find out what kind of lesson plans they offer for new students. Working with an experienced pro is a great way to get your technique back on track. Not only will they be able to point out any obvious mistakes you are making, they will also be able to offer you ideas for how you can take your game to a higher level in the future. Even if you only take one or to lessons a year to point your game in the right direction, this investment of time and money is likely to pay off.

The Right Kind of Practice

The Right Kind of Practice

You need to practice your swing properly if you hope to have it perform well on the course. When you arrive at the driving range for a practice session, you should already have a plan in mind for what you are going to work on for the day. If you would like to work on finding the slot, use the following tips to craft a productive practice routine.

  • Start with small clubs. To dial in the slot just right, start your routine by using short clubs while hitting shots to targets inside of 100 yards. There is no need to pull your driver from the bag straight away when you get to the range, as the driver swing is one of the toughest in the game. Start with your wedges, dial in your ability to find the slot, and work your way down the set from there. As long as your mechanics are on track, it should only take a few swings to get into the rhythm of putting the club in the right spot.
  • Take your time in between shots. One of the worst habits you can get into on the driving range is rushing through your practice session by hitting shot after shot as fast as possible. This is a common way to practice golf for amateur players, but you can do better. Resist the temptation to rush and instead take your time between each shot. After all, there is going to be a few minutes between swings on the course, so hitting shots rapidly on the range really doesn't represent the challenge you face when actually playing golf. Be patient, pick a target for each shot, and focus on making a quality swing time after time.
  • Watch your ball flight carefully. Your ball flight will tell you everything you need to know about the swings you are making. In golf, as is the case in many other sports, the ball doesn't lie. If you are hitting pretty shots, you can bet your swing is in good shape. If your ball flights are ugly, however, it is certain that there is a problem that needs to be solved. Watch the ball fly from start to finish and you can learn a lot of important information about your game.

Placing the club into the slot during the downswing is an important skill for any golfer to possess. No, finding the slot isn't automatically going to make you a great player, but you will take a big step in the right direction. With the help of the advice provided in this article, you should be able to play your best-ever golf in the relatively near future. Good luck!