We’ve all been there. We’ve all struggled with it. Plenty of us avid golfers may have fixed it at one point in time only to see it come back and haunt us again. We, of course, are talking about the dreaded annoying slice. Whether you are a beginner to the great game of golf, or are an experienced player, slicing the golf ball is one of the most common things to occur in this game. Slice with a driver is the most common result with the longest club in your bag. Because it is the longest club, it is also the hardest to square the clubface to hit it straight.
To help us fellow players get rid of this golfing pet peeve, we dedicate this article to explain some ways and practice techniques to straighten out your tee shots. No player likes to often lose golf balls into the trees or bush. Sometimes you feel you have hit your tee shot solid and believe it should go straight, only to still see it curl hard. This is one of the most annoying feelings in golf that leaves any player puzzled. To fix a problem, you have to understand what is happening and why. Below, we break down what causes slicing and dive into ways that might help rid this nuisance.
What is a Slice in Golf?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Slice in Golf?
- 2 What Causes the Golf Ball to Slice?
- 3 How To Find Out Why You Are Slicing
- 4 Practice Techniques for Fixing a Slice
- 5 Conclusion
The dreaded slice is a golf shot that starts left of the intended target followed by severely curving to the right during the ball flight (for right-handed players). For left-handed players, the ball flight direction is the opposite. A slice can also see the ball start straight at the desired target and also curve hard to the right.
It is difficult to control the ball let alone play a fun round of golf when you find your tee shots curving all over the place. It is also important to understand why your shots often ‘banana-ball’ and sail into the trees and water so that we can help you fix the issue.
What Causes the Golf Ball to Slice?
When a ball is slicing, it means that it carries side-spin causing it to curve during the flight. The main reason why your golf shots would carry a slice side-spin is that your clubface is ‘open’ when it impacts the golf ball. For right-handed golfers, an open clubface means that it points to the right at impact. This clubface is not ‘square’ and doesn’t hit the ball accurately such that it doesn’t travel along the intended line. A golf ball can slice even more severe if you combine an open clubface and a clubhead path that travels outside-to-in.
Typically, a slice is created then the driver clubface is open by about 5 degrees or more. If the clubface is between 0 to 5 degrees open, likely a ‘fade’ will result. A fade is still a golf shot that travels from left to right, just not as severe or uncontrolled compared to a slice. When you think about it, your driver normally has 9 to 11 degrees of loft and by assessing the looks, there is not much angle. So, a clubface that is open 5 or more degrees is not much room for error. What we are trying to say is – golf is a tough game, slices are annoying, and below we offer some much-needed pointers for ridding those slices.
How To Find Out Why You Are Slicing
Before we get into the practice techniques for fixing the slice, we believe it is important to first diagnose the part of your swing that could be causing slices. Below are the main things to consider.
1. Check your Driver Specifications
Sometimes a slice may not be the golfer’s fault. Actually! It is easy to blame the equipment, and yes, they are occasionally the culprit. But first, it is important to understand if your driver is actually right for you.
Lower lofted drivers, such as 9.5 degrees and lower are easier to hit a slice. Visually speaking, down at the clubhead you can see next to no loft. At impact, even if the clubface is slightly open, your drive could result in a slice. Higher lofted drivers have more margin for error. You can make your golfing life a bit easier by choosing a driver with at least 10.5 degrees of loft.
Playing the right shaft is also important. If you can hit your 7-iron at least 165 yards, you should be playing at least a Stiff-Flex shaft in your driver. If you’re playing a regular flex or lighter, and your swing speed is relatively fast, it is harder to square the club at impact, the clubface could be open thus resulting in a slice.
It is worth keeping in mind that golf club technology has greatly advanced over the past 10 to 15 years. If you’re sporting old equipment, those clubs could have a higher chance of slicing your shots. Technology has improved to straighten out those slices. For example, adjustable drivers now have the ability to close your clubface slightly, or have perimeter weighting near the heel to reduce tbhe tendency of your shots flaring to the right.
2. Check Your Golf Driver Grip
Often times having a ‘weak’ grip is the main cause for your slice. What we mean by this is, if you’re a right-handed golfer, a weak grip would mean your left palm is too far on top of the grip of the club, and likewise with your right hand. A weak grip normally results on an open clubface at impact.
Most times, golfers need to rotate their hands such that it feels like more of your fingers are holding the golf club. This can feel fairly strange at first and grips are always a finicky thing to adjust. Don’t be surprised if the first couple hits after gripping the club a new way will result in some wayward shots. It will take multiple swings to get used to the feeling of a new grip before you can feel comfortable.
Here are a few steps you can follow by ensuring a proper grip:
- First grip the club with your left hand such that the club lays across the fingers in your hand
- When you look down on your left hand you should see two of your top knuckles
- Next grip the club with the right hand the same way. Ensure the fingers hold most of the grip and that your thumb and index finger create a V that points to your right shoulder
- The V is key to straightening your shots, because now your index finger has a pressure point on the grip that helps you square the clubface
- If you follow the steps above, you’ll ensure a proper grip. One other thing to consider is putting guided grips on your clubs. These grips have color lines that train you to place your hands in the correct position on the grip.
3. Adjust your Stance and Setup
It is never a bad idea to check your setup before hitting your shot. How your clubface, feet, hips and shoulders are aligned relative to your target can dictate where your shots are headed. Ask any slicer that knows their shots are going right. They try to aim further left only to find their drives slice even more to the right. Pretty frustrating right?! Let’s go through a few checks to ensure you are setup properly.
- Starting with the feet, lay an alignment stick or golf club along your feet, take a few steps back and find out where the club is pointing. If it is too far left, shift your alignment further right to your desired target.
- Now that your feet are aligned, take another club and hold it across your hip or shoulders and look where it is pointing. If it is not pointed more or less towards your intended target, rotate your shoulders and adjust until it is aligned.
- Great, your major lines are not parallel to the target. Now let’s tweak your posture. If you slouch over the ball, it is important to keep in mind that standing up straighter frees up the swing and gives more time to square the face. To eliminate the slouching, think of sticking your chest out more and your posture will greatly improve when standing over the ball.
- Of course, when you are addressing the ball, ensure your clubface is square and pointing toward your desired target
One other important tidbit to consider is ball position. We can’t stress enough the importance of ball position especially for a driver. Given that a driver is the longest club in your bag, during the swing it will need that extra split second of time to square up the clubface at impact. For that reason, the golf ball should be positioned on the inside of your left foot (for right-handed players). This helps you square the clubface, and naturally results in a slight tilt in your shoulder angle to promote hitting the ball square and slightly on the upswing. This is desired for a driver.
Let’s consider the alternative. Positioning the ball towards the middle of your stance for a driver will usually result in an open clubface. It will also put plenty of spin on your shot because now you are hitting the ball on the downswing. Not only will your shots sail to into the trees, but the spinning shot is also very weak and causes you to lose distance.
4. Focus on Swing Path
A slice usually takes place when a player’s swing has the clubhead travelling in an outside-in direction rather than inside-out. We know this can be difficult to interpret without some visuals or demonstrations but we will try to describe.
When swinging outside-in and paired with an open clubface, your ball strike will impart side-spin on the ball creating that slicing path. If this happens to you, there are a couple of practice drills you can use to help promote a proper swing path. We detail this in the section below.
To better understand what it means to properly hit the ball ‘inside-out’, think of baseball or tennis players. When tennis players hit a forehand or backhand groundstroke, they start their stroke by positioning their racquet behind their body and then swing the racquet to the outside and accelerate through the ball. Try to picture this motion and associate that with the ‘inside-out’ technique, because it is a very similar concept for the golf swing. You may also notice that tennis players deliberately hit slices. When they do, they position the racquet in front of their body and cut the racquet across the ball to generate backspin on the shot. In golf, the ‘cutting-across’ motion on the golf ball usually results in a slice for a driver. If you can visualize the difference between the two motions you will perceptively understand how to correct your slice into a straight shot.
5. Mind your Clubface at Impact
We’ve already mentioned many times the desire to bring your clubface to square position at impact. How do you get there? If you have followed the pointers above so far and found it comfortable to make the adjustments, then you’re off to a good start! Now there is one other thing to add.
If you are trying to ‘force’ your clubhead (so-to-say) to be square at impact, you might be in trouble. If you have made all the adjustments above, but are slowing down your swing before impact to ensure hitting it square, you might cause a poor shot instead. The key to a good tee-shot is accelerating your clubhead through the ball with solid clubhead speed and momentum, this is referred to as properly releasing the club.
If you have made sure your grip is correct and your stance and setup at aligned to the target, then the rest is trusting your technique. Easier said than done right?! We totally understand. In this section we just want to stress the point that if you have your grip and setup nailed down, focus on achieving that top speed of your clubhead at impact. Proper grip and mechanics will result in a square clubface at impact, but if you’re deliberately slowing down to square the club, you’ll have a bad result. In your practice swing, try to feel that clubhead accelerating through the shot. Having a clubhead speed reach it’s fastest at impact with the golf ball is the desired result.
Practice Techniques for Fixing a Slice
Now that we’ve identified the main causes of slicing, let’s walk you through some drills and practices to help slay those annoying slices once and for all!
1. Towel Under the Arm
This is a classic drill for the driving range. You don’t need to use a towel, you can use a foam ball or glove or anything soft. On the driving range, if you are a right-handed golfer, place the towel underneath your armpit and hold it in place. After you have checked your grip, stance and setup, try hitting a few shots with it. After impact, the towel will naturally drop. This drill is supposed to help promote the proper ‘inside-out’ swing path. You can use this for irons or your woods and driver. It will feel strange at first, but we assure you this is an effective practice technique to groove your swing.
Top professionals use this technique to hone their swing as well. After practicing with this many times, it will feel more natural and you will find your shots straighten out.
2. Swing a Baseball Bat
To further hone the right swing path, we recommend swinging a baseball bat. We certainly not advocating swinging your golf clubs like a bat, but muscle memory is a powerful tool. A baseball bat swing promotes that ‘inside-out’ swinging feeling. Try swinging a bat multiple times and pay attention to the feeling and ingrain that into your muscles. Golfers who severely slice may need drastic measures to help fix the issue.
In golf, feelings can be both a rewarding and confusing thing. As an example, for the severe slicers of the ball, deliberately trying to hook your golf ball (hitting from right to left for right-handed players), can result in a straight shot. However, the one positive takeaway is that you are swinging inside-out.
Give the baseball bat idea a whirl and you will find the proper swinging motion to eliminate those slices. A tennis racquet is also good for this technique as we had described earlier.
3. Video Tape your Swing
A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video of your golf swing can be worth millions. It is never a bad idea to have your buddy take a video of your swing on the driving range or the course. Everyone has smartphones these days so it is very convenient. You can even switch on the slow-mo setting to capture a frame-by-frame breakdown to see where you are going wrong.
Often times, we think we are swinging properly, but a video can reveal we are not even close to what we envisioned in our minds. I am certainly guilty of this, so I always check my iron and driver swings on video to ensure my techniques aren’t breaking down.
A swing video can reveal plenty of things. Does my setup look ok? Am I aligned to the right target? Is the clubhead traveling from outside-in? How does the clubface look at impact?
These are important things to note, and certainly the right questions to ask yourself. After seeing the first video, make some adjustments, take another video of your shots and see if the result is any different. This is a valuable process to repeat.
4. Water Bottle Drill
We leave you with one last practice technique – the Water Bottle Drill. This is another classic technique focused to help you square your club on an inside-out swing path. Simply place your water bottle slightly behind and above your ball, about the length of two clubheads away. Then simply try to hit your ball cleanly without striking the water bottle.
You can try it with a driving range basket instead if you don’t want to use your bottle. Basically, this apparatus is used to train your muscles and mind to groove an inside out swing. Of course, you don’t want your swing to travel severely from the inside out or else it will result in a nasty hook.
If you slice the ball, try this technique without hitting the bottle before striking the ball. If you do, that means you are still hitting from ‘outside-in’ and therefore you need to adjust.
We understand, this can be a difficult thing to do and know many players struggle with it. One other practice drill you can try is a simple takeaway technique. No need to make a full-swing, but focus on the first three to four feet of your takeaway. When addressing the ball, after checking your proper grip and setup, simply take the clubhead back on a straight-line for 3 to 4 feet and bring the clubhead back to address. Keep repeating this motion to learn the feeling. When comfortable enough, try hitting the ball with the water bottle in place. This is also meant to promote the proper swing path.
No doubt, slices are annoying. It is probably the single-most undesirable thing in golf and can even make players quit the game. This is always a solution to a problem, and we certainly don’t want you to leave the game.
Sometimes, a slice can be corrected by making the smallest adjustments. You can correct your grip, adjust your stance and alignment, a shift in ball position. Heavier slicers may require going through constant drills and practice techniques. What we are trying to say is, at the end, it will all be worth it. Gone will be the days where you feel you need to aim at the trees and hope your slice finds the fairway.
Thanks for reading our article about fixing slices with your driver. Let us know if our tutorial has helped you straighten out your shots!
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