Beating the slice once and for all is a goal that can be accomplished by almost any golfer, provided the right approach is taken. In my four-step system, there are no quick fixes—just sound instruction that focuses on key slice-causing elements and methods for eliminating them from the golf swing. In step one, you’ll learn to analyze your divots and figure out if your slice is the result of a bad path or a faulty clubface angle, or both. Step two will tell you how to determine what type of downswing you have and what powers it. In step three, the question of proper grip and how to match it to your downswing type is addressed, and in step four, you’ll learn to match your position at the top with the right transitional move toward the ball and impact.
One of the few constants in the game of golf is that recreational players tend to struggle with the slice, particularly off the tee. Of course, more accomplished players lose the ball to the right from time to time, but not to the point where they can’t enjoy the game due to the sheer frustration of continually slicing the ball off the course. In addition to causing an overall lack of accuracy, hitting shots with a significant amount of left-to-right spin also robs distance, an effect that no golfer enjoys.
If you’re a player who currently struggles with this common problem, it’s time to put an end to it for good. To accomplish this seemingly difficult task, begin by asking yourself these questions: What type of slice do I hit? Is my swing path faulty, or is it my clubface angle at address, or both? Is my swing rotary- or lever-driven? Does my grip, address position, position at the top and transition match my swing type? All of these questions are addressed in my four-step process to beating the slice, and if you follow them in order, you’ll be well on your way to ridding yourself of the banana ball forever. Plus, you’ll understand what elements cause your particular slice and how to repair your swing when things start to go bad.
Step 1: Determine Your Divot Open Clubface With Incorrect Path Slice This creates divots that move extremely left of the target line and shots that slice out of control. The correct fix is to develop a swing path that’s less out-to-in and to learn to square the clubface at impact. The incorrect fix is to try to swing even more left or to hit with a closed clubface. This type of slice is the ugliest of them all, and fixing it is definitely a challenge. However, developing a swing path that’s less severe will make squaring the clubface easier.
Incorrect Swing Path Slice This creates divots that move somewhat left of the target and shots that start to the left and then curve back across the target line. The correct fix is to improve the swing path by moving it more down the line and less over the top. The incorrect fix is to experiment with different clubface positions in an attempt to compensate for the faulty path. The sad truth about this type of slice is that it’s the result of a faulty swing path that travels from outside to in and across the ball. Fixing this problem will take some time and effort.
Open Clubface Slice This type of slice creates relatively straight divots and shots that start along the target line and drift to the right. The correct fix is to square the clubface at impact. The incorrect fix is to swing farther left in an attempt to keep the ball on line. The good news about this type of slice is that it’s simply the result of a faulty clubface position, which can be relatively easy to fix. If this is your type of slice, you can take solace in the fact that your swing path is relatively sound, as illustrated by the direction of the divot, which is actually a bit to the right.
To beat your slice, you first need to determine if it’s your downswing path or your clubface angle at impact that’s faulty, or both. This can be determined by analyzing your divots and ballflight characteristics. To begin, find a grass practice range and lay a club or piece of colored string along your target line. Once you’re fully warmed up, place a ball on the inside of the club or piece of string and execute a normal, full shot. If you don’t make solid contact the first time, simply move down the shaft or string and hit another ball from that spot. The key is to hit a shot that represents your “normal” ballflight and to create a clearly recognizable divot in the process. Continue to hit several shots until you feel you’ve made at least a couple of clear divots that have resulted from what you’d consider your typical shots.
Once you’ve done this, take a look at the shape and direction of your divots and consider your normal shot shape. If your divot runs fairly parallel to the target line, and your shots tend to start toward the target and then drift to the right, you most likely have a correct swing path but an open clubface at impact. This is the easiest slice to fix because all it requires is a correction of the clubface position as it passes through the hitting zone.If your divot runs on a right-to-left diagonal from the target line and your shots tend to start left of your target and slice well to the right, you most likely have a swing path that travels too far from out to in, but a clubface position at impact that’s fairly square. To fix this type of slice, you’ll have to correct your swing path by learning to swing more along the target line, or even a bit from the inside.
Finally, if your divots move significantly from right to left and are fairly deep, and your shots move dramatically to the right of the target, you probably have both a faulty swing path and an open clubface position at impact. Fixing this type of slice is the most difficult because it requires the most work. However, by understanding exactly what it is that’s causing your slice, you’ll be significantly closer to straightening it out than you were before you started the process.
Step 2: Rotary Or Level After you’ve determined the actual cause of your slice (faulty path, faulty clubface angle at impact, or both), you need to figure out what type of downswing you have. Basically, every downswing is driven by a dominant force that’s either a pulling (rotary) or pushing (lever) motion.
A rotary-driven swing is one in which trunk and hip rotation is the primary force that moves the club. This type of swing has the player turning his or her body counterclockwise (for a right-handed player), with the club being dragged around through impact. Ben Hogan, David Duval and Lee Trevino are examples of players with rotary-type downswings.
In contrast, a lever-driven swing is one in which the right hand and forearm are the primary force in the downswing, along with some hip rotation. In this type of swing, the shoulder and chest rotation are delayed as the right hand and forearm power the club down into impact. Retief Goosen and Craig Stadler are examples of lever swingers. It’s important to note that both models start the downswing with a transition move called slotting, which is followed by varying degrees of hip rotation. To successfully fix your slice, it’s critical that you match the method of your fix to your downswing type, so take some time to properly determine if you’re a rotary- or lever-type swinger.
Rotary Swing A rotary-driven swing is one in which you’re trying to turn left (for a righty) as fast as you can to create clubhead speed. The trunk and chest rotation pulls the club in the downswing along with hip rotation. The key point to look for in the rotary swing is that your hips and trunk have both rotated open to the target line at impact and that your right arm is bent to keep the club on the correct downswing path. Try freezing your impact position or putting yourself on video to see if this is your move. In the accompanying photos, notice how the yellow shaft in my belt loop is facing well left of the target line, while the one on my shoulders is less so, indicating that my hips have led the motion. This is the true mark of a rotary swinger.
Lever Swing A lever-driven swing is one in which the shoulder rotation is delayed in the downswing as the arms drop and the right hand and forearm are the primary movers of the club through impact. The key point to look for in the lever swing is that at impact, your shoulders are parallel to the target line and your right arm is straightening as the right wrist remains bent. Notice in the photos how the yellow shaft in my belt loop is pointing significantly less to the left than it does in the rotary swing. This indicates the swing relies less on rotation and more on lever action.
Step 3: Match Your Grip To ensure you have a square clubface angle at impact, it’s critical to find a grip that matches your downswing type on a consistent basis.
If you’re a rotary swinger, you require a stronger grip than a lever swinger because your shoulders are open at impact. A stronger grip counters the open impact position by keeping the right hand and elbow bent and tucked in toward the body, which in turn lowers the right shoulder and keeps the clubhead on the correct path. All of these things add up to a square clubface and an open body at impact.If you’re a lever-type swinger, your grip will be more conventional or even a bit weak. Be aware that if you’re a lever swinger, a grip that’s strong will produce a closed clubface at impact. To make sure you have a grip that works with your swing type, concentrate on developing a setup position that’s correct. Also, use your impact position to check your grip—when your wrists unhinge at impact, the clubface should be square.
Rotary Swinger Setup The left wrist should be slightly cupped, with both hands creating a stronger than average grip.
Rotary Swinger impact The shoulders and hips should be open with the left wrist flat, the left arm against the left part of the chest, the right elbow bent, and the shaft and left arm forming a straight line. Also, the spine and golf club should form a right angle to ensure the proper plane.
Rotate Strong A lot of golf instructors stress the importance of developing a relatively neutral grip, but in reality, a neutral grip isn’t the best thing for all types of swings. In fact, a neutral grip with a rotary-type swing will produce a lot of shots that are left out to the right of the target. If you’re a rotary swinger, be certain that you can see at least three knuckles on your left hand, and that your right hand is rotated slightly under the grip.
Neutral Levers For players who power their swing through lever action, a strong grip will produce a closed clubface angle at impact and shots that hook to the left of the target. Instead, concentrate on developing a neutral grip in which no more than two knuckles on the left hand are visible at address. Place the right hand on top of the shaft so that the right wrist is flat—this should produce a square clubface at impact.
Lever Swinger Setup You should have a more traditional setup and a more neutral grip to match a shoulder position that’s square at impact.
Lever Swinger Impact The shoulders should be square, the hips open and the right wrist bent, with the left shoulder working slightly upward. The right arm should be straightening through the ball while the shaft and left arm form a straight line. The true key to getting solid results from the lever-type swing is to be as neutral as possible through impact, especially with the hands and clubface. If you’re a lever-type swinger, make sure you invest ample time to get your address position and grip correct.
Step 4: Find The Slot Many Tour pros don’t have the perfect backswing, yet they all slot the club in the transition in a way that gets the club on the correct path before they start accelerating down toward impact. In order to beat your slice, it’s critical that you get the club properly slotted the way the pros do, and it’s equally important to match your transition to your swing type. Here are the key components for rotary and lever swing types, both at the top of the backswing and in the transition.Rotary Swinger At The Top The spine and shoulder tilt should be the same as they were at setup, with the left arm across the shoulder with no lifting whatsoever. The left wrist should be flat and the clubface slightly closed to match the open shoulder position at impact. The right arm and elbow must stay tucked in front of the right portion of the shirt seam. Notice how the rotary swinger’s position at the top (right) is somewhat flatter than the lever swinger’s (below), and that the left wrist is flat or slightly bowed. For the rotary swinger, these elements are a must.
Rotary Swinger In The Slot The left leg should shift so the hip becomes a brace to pivot around while the left shoulder also shifts left. The left arm shouldn’t pull left but rather should give both arms enough time to drop the club into the slot. The right shoulder needs to stay tall until both arms drop the club into the slot while the right arm and wrist stay bent as the left wrist stays flat with the clubface still slightly closed. If you’re a rotary swinger, the most important things to concentrate on when making the transition into the slot are letting the arms be relatively passive so they can swing freely and maintaining a slightly closed clubface position.
Slice Buster The driver is the most difficult club in the bag to hit straight due to its ultra-long length (the current standard is about 45 inches, up from about 43 inches in the pre-titanium days) and extremely low loft (most drivers range from 8.5 to 11 degrees). These two elements lead to a club that produces a lot of speed due to the light weight and long length and that’s hard to square at impact consistently. As a result, golfers who struggle with slicing struggle even more with the driver and are often forced to hit shorter-length, higher-lofted 3-woods just to get the ball in play. To remedy the situation, Cleveland Golf offers the Launcher Ti460 Offset driver, a product that combines the distance benefits of modern, oversized titanium designs with the slice-busting benefit of offset. Visit www.clevelandgolf.com.
Lever Swinger At The Top Spine tilt is the same as at setup but shoulder tilt is at a right angle to the spine. The left arm should be across the shoulder or up higher, while the left wrist is flat or slightly cupped. The clubface is square at the top, and the right hand and wrist are bent to maintain width and keep the club on path.
Lever Swinger In The Slot The weight should shift into the left leg so that the lower leg becomes the brace point while the right hip stays back with the belt buckle still pointing behind the ball. The left shoulder should shift left with no pulling of the left arm, keeping the back to the target and giving the arms time to drop the club into the slot. The right wrist needs to stay bent in order to set the club on the correct path into the downswing and product power at impact.
PGA professional and Senior Instruction Editor Glenn Deck is regarded as one of the top-100 teachers in the U.S. He’s director of instruction at Pelican Hill Golf Academy at Pelican Hill Golf Club & Resort in Newport Coast, Calif.Visit www.pelicanhill.com.