Stop Your Slice
Find the Problem Before You Find the Cure
The majority of recreational golfers, and even some better players, suffer from chronic slicing. Anyone who has experienced this problem knows how frustrating it can be and how difficult it can be to overcome. One of the main reasons so many golfers are unable to straighten out their banana ball is because they attempt to find a cure without properly understanding the disease. To fix your slice once and for all, I suggest first understanding what fundamentals are key to solid ballstriking, and then taking measures to incorporate those moves into your swing. By so doing, your slice will disappear automatically.
The Role Of The Body
The body has but one role in the golf swing: to maintain balance and provide the foundation for solid rotational motion. Simply stated, you must maintain your balance while the club orbits around your body throughout the swing. Any loose motion will cause you to lose your balance and will disrupt the club’s orbit, which often leads to slicing. In order to do this, you must set up correctly at address, focusing on maintaining the proper forward bending of the spine, the proper amount of lateral spinal bending, and a solid amount of knee flex based on the amount of motion you want during the swing.
To set the proper forward bending of the spine, you need the clubshaft to point at your beltline (from a down-the-line view), and you need your arms to hang slightly out from your body so they clear your upper chest (see photo, below). These positions should be set with your balance point located around the middle to the back of the soles of your shoes. Setting the proper lateral bending of the spine is simple as well. Lean away from the target with your upper torso while your hips remain centered. This will move your center of gravity behind the mid-line of your body and allow you to easily shift your weight to your rear foot during the backswing (compare the large photo to the photo far right). Finally, to set the proper flex of the knees, you must first determine just how much rotary motion you need during your backswing. If you feel more comfortable turning more in the backswing, then you don’t require as much knee flex. If you need less turn to the top, you need to flex your knees more. As you look down at your knees, they should be flexed somewhere between the knot in your shoelaces and the mid-point of your laces.
Once you’re set up in a good position, the next thing you need to do is make sure that you have a solid rotational base for your club to orbit around. The first key to remember is that the right knee (for right-handed players) must remain relatively stable from address to the top in order to tighten up the hip turn in the backswing. If the right knee changes flex or position on the way to the top of the backswing, then you’ll have a bigger hip turn as you take the club back. In addition, the rate at which your hips turn off the start of the backswing will also influence the overall amount you’ll rotate. Players who rotate more have a greater tendency to alter the position of the clubshaft at the top, and also have a greater tendency to lose their balance during the swing. If this sounds like your swing, you need to be aware that over-rotating could be the cause of your slicing woes.
The Role Of The Clubshaft
In a solid swing, the path of the clubshaft is controlled all the way to the top. Players who have any type of radical motion during this part of the swing are forced to compensate in the transition to prevent poor shots. The key to controlling the clubshaft is to keep the clubshaft in an area that, at belt high, is around the tips of your toes (see photo, below right). The hands, clubshaft and clubhead should lie directly above the stance line defined by your feet. If you move too far in front or behind this position, you’ll find that it’s impossible to achieve a solid position at the top of the swing.
The Role Of Plane Angle Shifts
When the body flops around en route to the top, the clubshaft tends to lift up, requiring a plane angle shift in the transition that drops it down onto the plane (like you see in the swing of Jim Furyk). On the other hand, when the clubshaft moves off plane too quickly, it usually goes too deeply to the inside, causing an over-the-top move in the transition (like you see in the swing of Craig Parry). Obviously, both methods can work, but both require compensations that can be difficult to execute on a consistent basis. They also require timing realistically achieved only by golfers in the world-class strata. The best way to visualize a manageable clubshaft motion to the top is to draw a mental line from the hosel of the clubhead through your beltline, and a second line from the hosel of the clubhead through the top of the right shoulder at address. Keeping the clubshaft in this triangle area (photo, left) will allow you to control the plane throughout the swing. There are many players on Tour who take different paths to the top and back down to the ball, but all of them stay in this triangle.