Ah yes, the dreaded slice. There are shots you just despise, and a huge slice might be on top of the list. It doesn’t go very far, but it goes far enough to cause havoc with your score. A puny, weak slice is just not a fun shot. So why don’t we change that weak slice into a more powerful shot. Let’s turn the weak slice into a draw!
What Causes a Ball to Slice?
Understanding this will help you make the appropriate change. A ball will slice when the clubface is more open (pointed to the right for a right-handed golfer) than the path of the clubhead at impact. Most golfer’s assume the slice is caused by swinging “over the top” or “out to in”. This left path (assuming right handed golfer) does have an influence on the slice, but it’s really just the relationship of the clubface to the path of clubhead that causes the issues. Most golfers believe that the path determines the starting direction of the ball and the positioning of the clubface causes the curve. Actually, it’s the position of the clubface at impact that determines the starting direction, and the relationship, or gap, between the clubface and clubhead path that is one of the main factors determining how much the ball will curve.
This is the typical swing pattern for a slice. The path is going left, the clubface is pointing to the right, and the ball is a big slice. Notice how the starting line and the clubface position are almost the same. The big gap between the path and face will determine how much this ball slices (given a mostly solid strike).
A slice is caused by:
- Clubface is more right (open) at impact than the path of the club.
- The path is too far left which causes a big gap between path and face.
- Off-Center shots toward the heel cause more slicing curvature because of a principle called “Gear Effect”. I’m not getting into those details, so just trust me.
What Do You Change First?
Our goal is to get the gap closer together to get the ball to fly straighter. You could swing the clubhead more out, and that would be fantastic. However, this generally only works in theory. If all you do is change the path more to the right, then typically the face relationship to the path stays about normal. Now you have shots that start farther to the right and curve the normal amount. This is obviously a bad solution. So instead of changing the path first, let’s attack the other option.
Now our goal is to change the clubface orientation at impact. Your goal is to get the clubface to match the path. Whoa….I can hear you questioning me! If you get the clubface more in line with the path, won’t the ball go way left. Why yes, yes it will. Thanks for asking.
This clubface position at impact will cause the ball to start much farther left and fly much straighter, given the path stays about the same amount left. Now we have created a new shot. Instead of visiting neighbors that live on the right side of the course, you now get to meet new neighbors that live on the left side.
How does this help? My experience (well over 30,000 lessons) tells me that once you see the ball flying to the left, your intuitive nature makes it much easier to begin swinging more to the right. As long as you keep seeing the ball curve to the right, it’s very difficult to get the path more to the right. Therefore, you may have to exaggerate the fix of the clubface initially so you can make sure to ball does not continue to curve to the right.
How You Change the Clubface Position
Now that you understand the process, let’s look at identifying some causes of an open clubface position. Since the only connection between the club and you is your hands, let’s start there. Typically, the right hand ( yes I know, once again for right handed golfers) is my area of concern in the grip. If the right hand is too much on top of the club and the right forearm is therefore higher than the left forearm, then your grip could definitely be causing the open clubface position. So let’s assume your grip is good, then why do you still hit a slice. Here’s the typical reason. Your wrists are not working correctly. This is the main attribute a player must learn to begin playing a draw. The lead wrist (left) needs to get in a flatish to bowed position to deliver the clubface neutral to closed at impact.
|Mike Goodes||Zach Johnson||Jordan Spieth|
One great solution is just turn the lead wrist early in the backswing like Jordan Spieth does in his swing. This gets the lead wrist into the bowed position early and you can just keep there the rest of the swing. Joesph Mayo calls this the “curl under” position. This position will promote a better clubface position, getting the face to a more closed position, which is paramount in getting you to draw the ball.
Many golfers can achieve this by moving their hands slightly forward at address. This promotes a closed face position. Be careful not to go too far with this, because the clubhead will move too far inside on the backswing, which will cause another set of issues!
Stop Doing This!!!
If you have a fairly neutral grip, then you can’t do this at the top of your swing. Almost every golfer that slices has the lead wrist in a cupped or bent position on the downswing. The clubface must get more closed to prevent slicing! You must get the wrists to work properly to hit more powerful draws. This is not an option.
If you want to stop slicing, you must learn to get your lead wrist in a more flat to bent (flexion) position on the downswing. You will continue to struggle with weak slices from a cupped position (extension). The only way that I’ve seen learn to stop slicing from the cupped lead wrist position is to cast the club, or release the angles, very early in the downswing. This gets rid of the slice, but you’re left with a weak, not solid, inconsistent impact condition.
First Things First
Let’s hit some draws!
- Get clubface in a more closed to neutral position at impact.
- Get lead wrist in a bowed position on downswing.
- Get clubface more left of target at impact than path.
- Begin to swing clubhead more outward through impact while keeping clubface more closed.
- Work on keeping your hips and shoulders pointed to the right (right handed) of the target longer on the downswing.
- Allow the clubhead to pass your body as you go through impact.
- Lookey there—you’re hitting draws!