Written By John VanDerLaan
One of golf’s most colorful characters and a great senior golfer, Lee Trevino, had this to say about a slice: “You can talk to a slice, but a hook won’t listen”. The truth of the matter is that nearly every golfer, serious or not will lose sleep at some point pondering how to fix a slice, since every other tee shot, or more, seem to be ending up in the right rough, woods or water in this stage of their golf journey.
How often have you aimed down the left side of the fairway, playing for a power fade, and then hit a weak slice that goes off the planet to the right?
Most beginner golfers start with a slice and as they learn more about the golf swing, they figure out how to fix a slice, and many golfers go on to actually draw the ball.
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I started as a slicer when I was young, and as my golf swing got better and better, I gradually moved into a baby fade that I could control.
I played some great golf with that baby fade when I was young and strong, but as I got older and started losing some distance, I worked hard at coming from the inside with and in to out swing in order to develop a baby draw.
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I gained distance and still play the baby draw to this day and you can too.
A well known comedian who was an avid golfer once wrote:
“After 40 years of frustration, I have finally cured my slice once and for all…I sold my clubs”.
Drastic? Maybe. Foolproof? Definitely.
“A golf swing is a collection of corrected mistakes”
The slice is the most common of these mistakes that we need to correct.
What Is a Slice In Golf?
A slice in golf is a shot where the ball curves to the right (for a right handed golfer) due to the presence of side spin that is imparted to the ball at impact. It is very difficult to control because there is so much side spin.
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It is a weak shot where the ball curves so much that it doesn’t go very far.
Talk to anyone who slices the ball and they will take offense to the word slice. They will insist that it is a “power fade”.
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Why Do I Have a Slice?
The biggest problem with correcting a slice is identifying what is actually causing the problem in the first place. Here are just a few mistakes that can cause a slice:
A weak grip is when your hands are on the club turned too far to the left. A weak grip will hinder your hands coming back to square at impact, leaving the clubface open and imparting side spin on the golf ball.
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Death grip (or grip too tight)
A grip that is too tight usually impedes your ability to load and release the club properly. To visualize proper grip pressure, I like to think of holding a live bird. You hold it just tight enough that it can’t get away, but not so tight that you will hurt the bird.
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Head ahead of the ball at impact
With this mistake, it usually means you have got off tempo and your hands can’t catch up. This will result in an open clubface. This is usually result of excessive back and forward motion, or sliding instead of turning.
Rushing the swing (being out of tempo)
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This is all about timing. Without proper timing, a slice is inevitable. Golf swing tempo is one of the most important factors in a good golf swing. Some of the best golfers, like Sam Snead, were always good dancers for this reason.
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When you decelerate your swing, you typically open your club face. Deceleration means that the fastest part of your swing was before you hit the ball. Ideally, the fastest part of your swing should be just after impact.
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Poor weight transfer (either back or forward)
The most common weight transfer problem is a reverse pivot. This is where your weight is forward in the backswing, and back through impact and follow through. Your weight needs to be on your front foot at impact.
This is also a main cause of topping the ball.
It goes without saying that the path the club takes dictates the direction of the ball, but only where the ball starts. The spin imparted on the ball will determine which way it curves. A swing path from out to in will impart slice spin, starting the ball to the left and curving to the right. A swing path from in to out will impart hook spin, starting the ball to the right and curving back to the left.
At the end of the day, every slice ever struck will have been done with an open clubface. This means that at impact the club face is pointing to the right and imparting left to right spin.
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A Driver With Too Little Loft
The less loft that you have on your driver, the easier it is to put side spin on the golf ball. When you couple a low lofted driver with an open clubface, you are going to get a nasty slice. Most amatuer golfers would benefit from a higher lofted driver.
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Repair and Restore
Now that we have identified what causes a slice, let’s see if we can’t give you some pointers on how to cure a slice. Note that I have listed “Open Clubface” last on the list above. There is a reason for this. An open clubface is the root problem when it comes to slicing the ball. All of the mistakes above it will result in an open clubface.
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You might argue that it is possible to slice with a square clubface, as in a swing with an outside in swing path that still goes to the right. The truth in this is that the clubface is still open relative to the swing path.
The first place I always starts when it comes to diagnosing the problem, is to check these three golf fundamentals. I refer to them as the Three Kings.
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The grip does not have much to do with the swing path, but is very important when it comes to the angle of the clubface at impact (open, closed or square). Here’s what you need to check. When you take your grip, with the clubface square, you should be able to look at your left hand (for a right handed golfer) and see at least the first two knuckles.
If you see three or even four, that is fine. Another thing to check is the V”s formed between the knuckle and thumb on both hands. They should generally point to somewhere close to your right shoulder. If your grip passes these checks, then you can confidently say that your grip is not causing your slice.
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Unless you check your alignment regularly (as the pros do), a slice can creep into your game as a direct result of improper alignment. There are four physical elements to check in regards to proper alignment. Feet, knees, hips and shoulders. Understand that there are three possible overall alignments. Square, closed or open.
For argument’s sake, I would like to get you square even just for evaluation purposes. You can check your feet alignment easy enough. Just look down and see if your feet are parallel to your target. As far as your knees and hips are concerned, lay a club across your thighs. The club should point straight to target as well. To check shoulder alignment, ask a buddy to help.
Take a club and lay it across your shoulders. Get your friend to then hold the club in that position while you walk around the back and see if it is pointing down your target line. If all things line up, then you can eliminate alignment as the issue. If you find that any of these points are misaligned, work on getting your alignment square again. There is a fix within the alignment that can give immediate relief to a slice.
Most amateurs trying to fix their slice solely with an alignment change make the mistake of aligning further left and compensate for their slice. All this does is make you slice even more. By aiming to the right, though, you will encourage an inside out swing path. This, typically helps when trying to draw the ball, hence it should help fix a slice.
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The best way I can describe how a proper stance can affect whether or not you slice the ball is in your spine angle. If you have a rounded back, your spine angle is difficult to maintain, just from a physical standpoint. A proper spine angle enhances a better swing plane and, therefore, helps to get the club squared up at impact.
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How To Cure A Slice: Drills
Now that we know what causes a slice, and we have talked about the GAS principle, let’s look at some drills that can help cure a slice.
The 3 ball drill:
You can develop a correct swing path with a drill that I call “The 3 Ball Drill”. At address position, put the target ball in position. Then put another ball 2-3 inches back and one inch outside the target line. If you are swinging outside in, you will contact the back ball. If this drill is too difficult, move the back ball 1 more inch back and one more inch outside of your target line.
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Keep with it until you can get to the point where you are hitting only your target ball. Once you are at this stage, you can put a third ball 2-3 inches forward and 2-3 inches inside your target line. This drill will help give you the feel of a correct swing path. This, in conjunction with a square clubface, will eliminate your slicing problem. In fact, you may even develop that distance increasing draw you have only dreamed about.
Even if you think you have cured your slice, I would keep this drill in your driving range routine just to make sure your swing path is consistent.
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Time honored drill
Ask a golf pro what is the first thing to do in order to combat a slice and he will probably tell you to, “bring your right elbow down toward your right hip in the downswing”. Is it really that simple? In a perfect world, yes. But this is not a perfect world. If it was, would there be entire books written on this subject?
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Driver slice drill
“A perfectly straight shot with a big club is a fluke”
The driver is the most frustrating club when it comes to a players slice. The main reason, I believe, is that we use our driver more than any other club in our bag (except the putter), and, because we hit it farther than other clubs, the mistake is further accentuated. Here is a drill that will help you in correcting your driver slice.
Make sure you have a strong enough grip, as described in the Three Kings Principle. Make sure you see at least 2 knuckles on your left hand when addressing the ball with the club, and check that the V formed between your thumb and index finger are pointing to a place between your right ear and your right shoulder. This needs to be the case for your grip with both of your hands. If this is not correct, make the adjustment.
Position the ball off the inside of your front foot, about even with your heel, to promote an upward strike of the golf ball. Striking the ball on the upswing will help promote a straighter flight and greater distance. One of the reasons you slice with your driver is that you are hitting down on the ball. While this is preferred with your irons, it is a spin enhancer and that is undesirable as far as your driver is concerned.
Tilt your shoulders a bit. This will get your head behind the ball and set you up to hit the ball on the upswing. The tilting of your shoulders will also help a good shoulder turn on the backswing.
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Swing the club back until you feel your left shoulder under your chin, completing your backswing. With the proper shoulder turn you can swing the club down on an inside-to-out path.
Swing the club down on an inside-to-out path. Square the clubface by rotating the toe (outside edge) of the club over the heel (inside edge) as you swing through impact. This will help squaring up the clubface at impact. Rotating the toe of the club over the heel will straighten out your ball flight or produce a slight right to left flight.
This is something that needs to happen to a big degree naturally in your swing, if you do not yet have this swing motion ingrained in your swing, you should practice hand action and pronation of the club with half swings and 3 quarter swings for a little while until your hand action and pronation of the club improves. This is thoroughly described in Ben Hogan’s book, Five Lessons. You can get it by clicking here.
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Medicus offers this swing aid as a five iron as well. You can use this product with all of these drills if so desired, but, a word of warning…if you have a swing path or swing plane issue, the Medicus will be difficult to swing. If you can master the Medicus, your swing will be grooved and you will see improvement in your results.
Feet together drill
This is a drill I saw a pro by the name of Brad Patterson teach. First thing that must be done is to do a grip check. Use the principles for grip checking and if needed adjusting your grip as described in the Repair and Restore section on grip.
With a 6 or 7 iron, stand with your feet together. Take a regular backswing, making sure that you keep your athletic posture and hip rotation as if it were a normal swing. When you start your downswing, use only your arms and wrists. No shoulder or hip turn. As your right elbow hits your right hip, let gravity take over and release the club naturally. This an ideal drill for fixing a chicken wing golf swing.
Right foot back drill
One of the first things I do if I feel that I am coming outside in with my swing is to move my right foot back, almost like a batter in baseball that has what they call a “closed stance”. Sometimes I have to get that foot so far back that it is actually difficult to complete my golf swing. Other times it’s just a matter of an inch or two and it will be enough to alter my swing path.
It looks awkward, as it will seem that you are aiming so far right, but all it is really doing is making sure that you cannot come outside in…at least not without hurting yourself.
Tee toss drill
I have also used this drill for some time. It works best if you have played baseball or softball at some time in your life. This drill works best with a driver, but only because of the sheer size of the driver. It can, in actuality, be done with any club. While waiting on a tee box for the fairway to clear, pick up a broken tee and toss it up in the air, much as you would a baseball if you were hitting flies to the guys.
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Then just step into it and hit the tee. The benefit here is that it creates a natural release of the clubhead, in addition to encouraging the feeling of inside out. This drill can be done at least 18 times per round, and you don’t have to go to the range to do it. Plus, the feedback you get from being able to make contact with the broken tee, is immediate and self assuring.
After all the tips I have given you on how to fix a slice, remember one thing:
“Golf is not a game of perfect”
Keep working on your golf swing, because as long as you are alive and able to play the game you will always have it with you. Your body gets ingrained with the motions you practice over and over, so your swing will always be with you, and you will execute in the way you intend to. So keep it up and work on it. It is worth the effort and it is a great feeling to step out on the golf course and see the results once you start to get things right.
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Now that you know how to fix a slice in golf, start practicing the drills that I have given you and turn that slice into a fade and then, eventually, into a draw.
I believe that fixing your slice is the single most gratifying experience you will have when it comes to your golf swing. Just imagine if you all of a sudden added 25 yards to your tee shots; or had the confidence to aim down the center of the fairway when you know there is trouble to the right.
Imagine breaking 90 for the first time!
These are the results that you can expect after you cure your slice.
Click here for my 12 Best Golf Tips To Improve Your game.
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