Golf Slice
By: Brent Walter

Golf Slice: You don't have to fear the dreaded golf slice. With a little information and some practice, you'll be straightened out in no time.

    The word "slice" can make some golfers breakout in a cold sweat, bringing back horrifying memories of woods, water, sand and two-foot-tall grass. But, a golf slice doesn't have to haunt you. Just because 90 percent of golfers slice the ball, doesn't mean you have to be one of them (Horn). A little know-how and a few adjustments will help you resign your membership to golf's most member-filled club.
    Understanding what causes a slice enables you to fix your banana-ball. If you know why it happens, then you'll be better able to make necessary adjustments. Gaining insight into the cause will work much better than tips, training aids or drills; however, those can help you ingrain proper technique once you understand the problem.
    Just to refresh, a golf slice is a shot that starts out straight and then veers over to the right for right-handers and left for left-handers. Basically, your hitting the ball like a pitcher throws a curve ball. You're putting some intense sidespin on your golf ball. For right-handers it's spinning clockwise, left-to-right, and for left-handers it's going counterclockwise, right-to-left. That spin is what causes your ball to exit the fairway in an ungraceful manner.
    There are over a thousand different reasons why a golfer causes the detrimental sidespin, but they all boil down to two things: an open clubface and an outside-to-in swing path (Pocket Caddy). An open clubface is when the face of you club is aimed out, away from your body at impact. For right-handers, it's aiming right of the target, and for lefties, it's aiming left.
    An outside-to-in swing path is best understood by imagining you are trying to hit your lead foot with your club. To hit your foot you'd swing from out, away from your body down, towards your foot. That path, from back and away to forward and close to your body, is an outside-to-in swing path. Another way to think of it is to imagine a line drawn on the ground in front of you where your ball is, running parallel to your toes. An outside-to-in swing path travels from the far side of the line to the near side of the line during your downswing. The combination of the open clubface and the outside-to-in swing path produces the sidespin golfers have hated since the first ball and club were invented.
    Sadly, just telling you to keep your clubface closed and avoid an outside-to-in swing path wouldn't help because those are merely the symptoms of other swing faults. It's those other swing faults that cause your open clubface and outside-to-in swing path. If you remedy the root causes, you'll fix your slice. Here's a list of common swing faults that can cause a slice. Just compare the list to your own swing to help diagnose the cause of your slice.

Weak Grip: This isn't an insult or due to a lack of strength. If your grip is weak, you simply have your hands in the wrong place on the club. For right-handers, a weak grip is when your left hand is rotated down so you only see one or two of your knuckles as you look at your hands (Palmer). Your right hand may also be folded too far over, with your palm facing more towards the ground. With a weak grip, your hands will twist at impact giving you an open clubface because your hands always try to return to their natural position. So, to prevent your slice make sure you can see two and a half to three knuckles on your left hand and that your right palm is facing your target (Palmer). That will keep your clubface closed and prevent one type of slice.

Misaligned Body: A common cause of a golf slice is having an open alignment at address. That's when your lead foot is back farther than your other foot or when your lead shoulder is not parallel with your target line (Kroen). Your open stance, although seeming like you'd aim left, actually causes you to slice even farther to the right. So, make sure you are aligned parallel to your target line so that you minimize your chances of an outside-to-in swing path.

Poor Takeaway Path: One easy way to slice a shot is to pull your club back off plane to the outside (Craig). That sets you up for the perfect outside-to-in swing, which produces a classic, in-the-woods, slice. To prevent that slice-causing error, always take your club back on plane. Try to imagine that you're pointing the end of your grip at the ball through your entire takeaway.  If you keep your club on that plane you won't slice the ball.

Coming Over the Top: There's a reason golf pros don't look like bodybuilders. Swinging fast isn't about pure, muscled strength. It's about quickness and explosiveness. So, if you're trying to muscle your swing with your upper body, it may be causing your slice (Craig). When you overpower your swing with your arms and shoulders you lose your tempo, and your clubhead trails your arms, causing your clubface to open (Palmer). To correct that, start your downswing with your legs and hips. That way you'll keep in rhythm, and your clubhead won't trail behind your arms. That'll help keep your clubface closed.

Locked Wrists: To hit straight shots, your wrists must be able to hinge properly, snapping your clubface closed just before impact. If your wrists don't hinge because you're arms are tense, your grip is too tight or you're off tempo, your clubface will remain open, and you'll slice the ball (Palmer). When your wrists hinge, your right forearm begins to cross over your left forearm, rotating the clubhead in the counterclockwise direction. That movement closes your clubface, which prevents a slice. To monitor that movement practice a few half-swings paying close attention to how your wrists release just before impact (Palmer).

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