How to Stop a Slice with a Driver
It’s the age-old question for every golfer: how can I stop slicing the ball so much? Read on to find out how to eliminate a slice forever or just keep it under control.
It’s the age-old question for all amateur golfers when they start playing the game: how can I stop slicing the ball so much? What is the cause of a golf slice? Every amateur starts their golf career with the classic “beginner slice” and evolves their game from that basic swing path. Some people learn to play this slice—or a more conservative fade—and accommodate this miss into their plan around the golf course. Others undergo swing training and make changes in order to hit the ball straighter, or even switch to a draw swing path. Whether you want to eliminate the dreaded side-spin of a slice forever or just keep it under control, you’ve come to the right place! If you want to stop being a slicer and have a golf shot with a straight ball flight, continue reading. This article focuses on tips for helping a slice with a driver, but the general concepts can be applied to any club in your bag, adjusted for its proper ball position and length.
Your slice is caused by the fact that you’re not getting the clubface through the ball and your clubface is not square at impact. This means that the clubhead does not rotate through the ball and instead you have an open clubface at impact. The open clubface can result from many things, but one common cause of a slice is to check is how the clubface sits at address when you’re setting the club behind the ball to begin your swing. If you are already addressing the ball with an open clubface, it will likely lead to the face being open at impact, thus creating a slice. If you want to see what the variations of the clubface can look like at address, check out this tutorial lesson from Golf Digest.
Adjust Your Grip
The easiest fix you can make to stop a slice is to adjust the way you grip the golf club. A poor grip has a large impact on how the club is facing when it makes contact with the ball. When a player’s grip is too weak, it tends to accommodate a slice in the ball trajectory.
For context, a grip that is considered “neutral” would have both hands straight down the sides of the club grip with both thumbs down the shaft. If either hand is spun counterclockwise from that neutral grip position, then the grip becomes what is known as “weak.” If a player wants a quick fix to help their slice, they should turn one or both hands clockwise on the shaft, leading to what is known as a strong grip for right-handed golf players. It’s worth noting that the same hand movement for a left-handed player would result in a weak grip. This is not a cure, but it is one of the many steps that a player can take to eventually stop slicing.
Sometimes, a slightly stronger grip may be all that you need to keep the ball in play. However, this can easily backfire—overcompensating and strengthening the grip too much can lead to big misses and the dreaded snap hooks, so adjust with caution.
Adjust Your Ball Position
Now then, if you have a strong grip and still can’t get through the golf ball, or if you just don’t like how it feels and want to examine other areas of your swing, the next place you should check is your ball position and make sure the ball is the proper distance from your front foot. Different clubs should be hit at different points between your feet; for example, fairway woods should be hit slightly behind the front toe of your lead foot. You can find more details on how to hit fairway woods in my article here. Your driver swing is very different than swinging with a wedge in terms of ball position.
If you are playing the ball too far back in your stance, which is often the case with longer clubs like drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, you could be slicing because the club isn’t bottoming out before getting to the ball. The club reached the bottom of the swing path when the lead hand is able to turn the club through the ball and the body rotation of the golfer causes a square clubface by clearing the hips and bringing the open club face back to square when it impacts the golf ball. Make sure that you are examining where the ball is in your stance before you swing on each of your clubs. If you need some reference, take a look at this ball-positioning chart.
Check Your Alignment
So, you’ve examined your grip and it checks out. You’ve looked at the ball position in your stance and it seems to be in good standing as well. Yet somehow, you still can’t get the ball to stop going too far right (or left for our left-handed friends). What could be the issue? Unfortunately, there are still countless reasons as to why you could be hitting your slice.
The next thing you should do is find someone who can take a video of your swing. This can be done on a mobile device, and most modern smartphones have the ability to take a video in slow-motion so you can dissect the different movements within your golf swing. Having access to a slow-motion video of your swing will allow you to analyze different actions you take with your club that are much more difficult to feel and know when you’re over the ball.
Take a video from both behind and the side, so that you can see down the line of where you’re aiming and a full rotation of the club. This way you can assess the position at the top, swing path, and follow-through. The first place to look once you have these videos is where your feet and shoulders are lined up when addressing the ball. If your feet and shoulders are lined up far left of your target, that is considered an open stance, which tends to promote a slice. To fix this, turn your feet and shoulders to point more toward your target — you may feel like your stance is closed and pointed too far right, but this will begin to feel natural with practice, just like strengthening your grip.
After checking your alignment, use both videos to assess where the club goes during the backswing. The swing should be within a circular swing plane that is neither too upright nor too far around the back. This is easier understood with visuals, and this article has easy-to-understand illustrations of where the swing plane should be going both back and through the ball. Not everyone swings exactly on this swing plane, and that’s perfectly okay.
However, if you are consistently missing the ball with a slice, you may be guilty of having an outside-in plane to your swing. This means the club is pushed too far away from you on the backswing and then cuts across the ball upon impact through your finish. This author is extremely guilty of the outside-in swing plane, but it’s also important to note that this motion isn’t always caused by just one motion.
For example, there are players (again, such as this author…) who take the club back on a plane that very closely aligns with what’s considered ideal but then adjust the club at the top of the swing. Different drills and devices exist to assist players with swing planes, and each is designed to help specific aspects of the swing that create the inconsistencies within a player’s swing plane. In order to best determine what types of support you should look into, it’s first important to determine the cause of your woes. Taking a video and seeing yourself from an outside perspective can do wonders to your understanding of your golf swing and really help you make positive strides in your game.
Finally, we have the dreaded amateur move that leads to more slicing than almost anything else — the classic slide through the ball and the early pull of the torso and head through impact. In your casual weekend foursomes, you’ll most likely hear this referred to as “not keeping your head down” by your fellow golfers. Keeping your eyes down behind the ball through impact is a great tip to follow when you’re finishing your golf swing because it may help to avoid that nasty slice that always comes when you get too eager to look up after you swing. Sometimes players can accomplish this by slowing their backswing and focusing on keeping the takeaway in tempo. Many times, the swing tempo alone could be what is causing the player to not "keep their head down."
It’s also important to check that the lower body is engaged throughout the swing and doesn’t become stationary. Otherwise, this can lead to the dreaded block slice, where the ball starts right (or left for our left-handed friends) and then goes even further right (or left). Keep your lower body moving through the swing and make sure that the hips clear and are pointed toward the target upon finishing the golf swing. Here is an article with illustrations that show the movements of the body throughout the swing.
As always, if you need assistance finding the proper training gear, reach out to me or one of my fellow Golf Experts on Curated. We all have found ourselves needing some practice at one time or another, and we would be happy to pass along and share any knowledge we can!
Just some additional advice from someone who has had some bad misses with a slice: aim your target line left (if you’re right-handed). Seriously, when all else fails and you cannot fix your slice in the middle of a round, put the tee on the right side of the tee box and aim at the left side of the fairway or even further left (again, assuming you are right-handed). Then, check your setup and posture, move the ball away from the heel, confirm you can see the back of your left hand and at least a couple of knuckles, and focus on a smooth transition, an in-time swing speed, and getting your hands through the ball on the downswing. Swing with your upper body—shoulders, not wrists. Don't help the ball slice; it'll curve all on its own once you launch it out there. You got this!