Stop Your Slice
Find the Problem Before You Find the Cure
Reading Your Ball Flight
The final method of learning to control your shots and stop slicing is to understand your ballflight. In order to accomplish this, you need to analyze two things: the starting direction of your shots and the curvature of the ball at its apex of flight. Once you know how to interpret these keys, you’ll have the final bit of information needed to fix your slice for good. If your divots are heading left, then an out-to-in swing path is the problem, which is one of the primary causes of slicing. Your job is to identify what part of your swing is causing the outside-in swing path, and then correct it.
The starting direction of your shots as they take flight indicates what the clubshaft is doing through the ball (what plane it’s on), which affects the path of the clubhead and the subsequent divot pattern. If you have an in-to-out swing path, your shots will tend to start out to the right. If you have an out-to-in swing motion, the ball will tend to start left of your intended target line. If your divot moves down the line and the ball starts slightly to the right of your intended target line, then you’re moving the club slightly from the inside, which is the proper way to produce a draw.
The Curvature Of The Ball At Its Apex Of Flight
This indicates what the clubface was doing through impact. If the clubface is closing, the ball will hook; if it’s opening, the ball will slice; and if it’s both opening and closing, the ball will have a more gentle movement to the right or left. This hinge or rotational motion of the clubface programs the ball’s curvature, so it’s critical to identify how the ball is moving in flight to know how the clubface is behaving through impact. If your shots are moving right severely at the top of their flight, then you know the clubface is probably not rotating closed fast enough to impart the desired right-to-left spin. Remember to pay close attention to your shot shape as the ball reaches its apex—it’s a key indicator that can help identify a major swing flaw.
After you have a solid grasp of the key five steps (the role of the body, the role of the clubshaft, your preferred plane angle shift, a solid pivot motion, what your ballflight means), you’ll be well on your way to understanding what elements comprise a solid golf swing. Once you’re armed with this knowledge, determining what particular fault in your own motion is causing your shots to move left to right will be easier than you think, as will be making the necessary changes.
1. The rare “straight shot” is produced by zero shift swings that maintain a square clubface.
2. The standard slice can occur for a number of reasons, primarily an open clubface at impact.
3. The standard hook is most commonly caused by a clubface that is closed at impact.
4. The straight push is caused by a square clubface approaching the ball from the inside.
5. The push slice occurs when an open clubface approaches the ball from the inside.
6. The push draw is caused by a closed clubface and overly in-to-out swing path.
7. A straight pull is caused by an out-to-in path and square face.
8. The pull hook occurs when a closed clubface approaches the ball from the outside.
9. A pull slice is caused by an out-to-in path and open face.
10. A solid draw is created by a properly rotating clubface.
11. A solid fade is the result of slower rotation of the clubface.
PGA professional and veteran instructor Tom F. Stickney II is the director of instruction at The Club at Cordillera in Vail, Colo. For more information, visit www.tomstickneygolf.com. Photographs taken at Tierra Rejada Golf Club in Moorpark, Calif. (www.tierrarejada.com).
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