Hitting a slice isn’t all bad. If you can minimize it, then control it, a slice is actually one of the most repeatable shots you can hit. A “fade,” which is also known as a slice that still finds the fairway, can produce a long drive that has just enough backspin to prevent the ball from rolling away from you and into the rough. Let’s take a look at how to control a slice —to turn it into a fade with a few simple steps.
BELOW LEFT: If you’re crooked at the start, you’re likely to be crooked at impact, as well. In this photo, my lower body is aimed right (in an effort to prevent coming across the ball–or so I think), but my upper body is still way to the left. This setup position is typical of most slicers who tend to have a big, ballooning slice that starts right and slices even farther to the right. Also typical are reverse pivots caused by little room for the hips and lower body to rotate through impact with the ball.
BELOW RIGHT: The obvious slice fix is to aim farther to the left, right? Not so. If you’re a slicer, the more you aim to the left, the more pronounced your slice will be. As you can see here, my upper body and lower body are, in fact, aligned, but my clubface is still facing the fairway. This means I'm going to cut across the ball and make my slice bigger. Also, when you open up too much and don't reposition the golf ball relative to your stance, the ball effectively moves back, making the slice even worse.
FIX YOUR ALIGNMENT
When all else fails, square up the ball in a parallel fashion with the toes aligned with the shoulders and the hips square at address. In the photo, I’m still aiming slightly to the left to accommodate a fade, but being in a squared position will lessen my fade and help me hit more consistent tee shots. With practice, I can get a better feel for picking the targets with which to align my body and allow the ball to fade gently away from it.
“You can talk to a fade, but a hook won’t listen,” says Lee Trevino, whose reliance on what he dubbed a “power fade” helped the Merry Mex win six majors, not to mention nearly 90 professional events. His fade was manipulated by a thorough rotation of his body–a necessary move, considering his stronger-than-normal grip. Other great players known for hitting fades include Fred Couples (who, like Trevino, also had a strong grip), Ben Hogan, Greg Norman, Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods, each of whom has used the controlled slice (fade) to win majors. Reason being, fades generally are easier to control because they roll back into the fairway and not away from it. Of note, Hogan spent years perfecting the fade in an attempt to literally block out half of every hole he played (the left side). What happened? He won nine majors and 64 PGA Tour events.
MOVE THE BALL FORWARD
If you struggle with slicing too much and want to reduce it to a fade, consider moving the ball farther forward in your stance. This will help you take advantage of a clubface that isn’t as open as it is earlier in the downswing; hence, it should slice less. Just remember, as you swing through the ball, allow your hands to release and let your ungloved hand cross over your gloved hand after you’ve made contact.
CLOSE IT, THEN GRIP IT
LEFT: A quick way to lessen a slice is to grip the club with a closed clubface. The key is to do this the right way by following these easy steps.
CENTER: Hold the grip with your ungloved hand and rotate the clubface a few degrees closed before you make your grip with the gloved hand.
RIGHT: Now that the face is closed, take your grip with both hands. Follow this sequence and avoid twisting the hands before you make your grip.
LEFT: Watch what happens here, and see if you're guilty of it. In the above photo, I've made my normal grip with a squared clubface.
CENTER: While still holding the club, I've begun to close the face, effectively weakening my grip and changing my hand positions.
RIGHT: Now, my clubface is closed, but check out how weak my gloved hand is. I'm probably still going to slice, even with a closed clubface.
TO FADE OR NOT?
Play The Fade
If your natural ballflight is left to right, try not to feel as though you need to manipulate your ballflight on dogleg holes that curve the opposite direction (from right to left). Even if you miss the fairway slightly to the right, take your medicine and move on. Trying to force a draw when you're a natural slicer is a recipe for disaster.
MAKE A FULL TURN TO THE LEFT
The last insight on hitting an effective fade is to remember that although the ball eventually will curve to the right, you still have to make an effort to rotate the body fully to the left. What does that mean? Well, if you look at the ghosted sequence, you can see that turning to the left also means turning down and to the left. If you don't turn down, you'll come over the top of the ball. But if you do swing down, the lower body will rotate while your arms and hands drop to create an outside-in swing path to produce the desired fade. If you master this fundamental, as well as the others in this article, that once-hated slice will turn into a go-to fade.
Derek Nannen, PGA, is the Director of Instruction at the Eagle Mountain Golf Academy in Fountain Hills, Ariz. For more information visit eaglemtn.com.