How to Fix a SlicePublished on 03/14/2023 · 9 min readSlicing the ball? Golf expert Bill S. walks you through some potential root causes - and some adjustments you can make to fix them.
By a wide margin, the most frequently asked question that golf instructors get is “Can you fix my slice?”
This really shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, since it’s been estimated that 80-90% of all amateur golfers regularly slice the golf ball! Are you among that legion of amateurs who visit the right rough a bit too often? If so, read on for some help in how to straighten out those wayward shots.
In this article, I’ll offer some guidance on what you’ll need to do to fix your slice. But before I discuss the grip, stance and swing changes that you’ll need to make, it will be helpful if you understand what causes the ball to slice in the first place. Without a solid understanding of the root cause of the slice, it’ll be more difficult to implement the modifications needed to correct it. So what is that root cause?
It’s All About Face Angle
Most articles that address the slice go immediately to the fixes, without explaining what actually happens at impact to cause the excessive left-to-right sidespin that curves the ball. In short, at the moment when the club makes contact with the ball, the reason that sidespin is imparted, causing the ball to slice, is because the club face is “open” to the direction that the club is moving. In other words, the face angle is aimed to the right of the club’s swing path (obviously, this would be the opposite for left handers).
Understanding and fixing the slice needs to start here, with the primary focus being on this face angle issue. Instead of having an open face at impact, your goal will be to deliver the club to the ball with the face being more “square” to your club path. Presenting a squarer club face at impact will obviously reduce the amount of sidespin that you generate, which in turn will result in a more “subdued” slice.
All of the changes that I’ll be suggesting are being offered as remedies to help get better control over your slice. But always remember that what they are aimed at fixing is the open face angle. That is the real root cause of the problem.
Changes to Make to Square the Club Face
There are several common errors that amateurs make that contribute to their open face angle, and the resulting slice. Players who consistently slice the ball will exhibit at least one of these, and many will actually exhibit more than one.
Determining which of these flaws is having the biggest influence on your ball flight is a crucial step in the correction process. Working with a qualified professional to identify them is the best way to get started. While there are several others in addition to the ones listed below, these are the most prevalent reasons why amateurs slice the ball:
- A grip that is too weak
- Grip pressure that is too tight
- Improper shoulder alignment
- Out-to-in swing path
- Improper ball position
Grip Adjustment 1: Strengthen Your Grip If It’s Too Weak
The way you place your hands on the club can have a dramatic effect on your ball flight and is one of the first places to look when trying to identify the cause of your slice. Grips are generally described as being either strong or weak and are differentiated mainly by the orientation of the hands on the club.
Weak Grip In a weak grip, the hands are rotated in a counter-clockwise direction on the club (to the left for right handers), so that the V’s are aimed more toward your left shoulder. This type of grip makes it much more difficult for the player to square the club at impact, and usually results in the face coming into the impact zone in an open position. The result? This open club face will almost always produce the left-to-right sidespin that causes the ball to slice.
Strong Grip A strong grip is, of course, the opposite of the weak grip. A strong grip is characterized by the hands being turned to the right on the club (in a clockwise direction), so that the “V’s” that are formed between your thumbs and index fingers are pointed toward your right shoulder. A strong grip would also normally reveal at least two knuckles of your left hand as you look down at your grip. This type of grip will generally make it easier for golfers to square the club face at impact.
If you determine that your grip is, in fact, too weak, you should immediately work on rotating your hands on the club to get them into a stronger position. That would mean re-orienting them more to the right, so that your V’s are aimed properly toward your right shoulder and so you can see more knuckles on your left hand. Getting your hands on the club properly is a relatively easy change to make and will make it much easier for you to deliver the face square to your club path.
Grip Adjustment 2: Lighten Grip Pressure That is Too Tight
Another common grip flaw that can result in slicing the ball is having a grip pressure that is too tight. In the quest to swing as hard as they can, many amateurs subconsciously grip harder on the club, assuming that this will enable them to create more club head speed. Unfortunately, just the opposite occurs.
As the grip pressure in your hands increases, the muscles in your arms and shoulders tighten up as well. This death grip on the club, then, has the unintended consequence of inhibiting club head speed and making it more difficult to have a natural release, which helps to square the club face. Rather than leveraging the natural speed created by long and loose muscles, this overly tight grip hinders the squaring of the club face, and a slice is the unfortunate result.
On a scale of one-to-ten, grip the club at what would be considered a four or five, loose enough to get speed and a full release, but just tight enough to maintain control of the club.
Alignment Adjustment: Keep Shoulders Parallel to the Target Line
Because slicers are accustomed to seeing their ball end up far to the right of their intended line, another adjustment they often make is to subconsciously start aiming more and more to the left. As a result, their shoulders end up aiming far to the left of their target.
Unfortunately, one of the physical facts of the golf swing is that the path of your swing tends to mirror the direction of your shoulders. If the shoulders are aimed to the left, it normally follows that your swing will move in that direction as well. This swing from the right to the left will cause you to cut across the ball with an open club face.
So, while your subconscious alignment to the left was intended to avoid the right side of the course, you can now see that this has only exacerbated the issue, encouraging even more pronounced left-to-right sidespin.
At address, make sure that your shoulders are lined up parallel to your target line. This will allow you to deliver the club to the ball more “down the line” or even a bit from the inside, enabling you to make square contact and to eliminate the sidespin.
Swing Path Adjustment: Correct an Out-to-In Path
Probably the most common and identifiable swing flaw of chronic slicers is an “over the top” move that leads to an out-to-in swing path. When that happens, the club head cuts across the ball, imparting left-to-right sidespin on the ball in the process (i.e., the dreaded slice).
Coming “over the top” is initiated by a premature and over-active use of the arms and upper body at the start of the downswing, resulting in the club head being thrown outside of the proper downswing plane and then being pulled back across the ball through impact. Often, this flawed downswing motion is also accompanied by the right elbow moving away from the body, rather than moving down and in toward the right hip. Unfortunately this improper path usually results in a glancing blow and the signature left-to-right slice curvature, not to mention a significant loss of power and distance.
Better players have learned that it is more effective to approach the ball from inside the target line, by initiating the downswing with the lower body instead of with the upper body. Rather than coming over-the-top, the movement of the right elbow toward the right hip in the downswing will facilitate an in-to-out swing path. This is the only way that a true, right-to-left ball flight can be achieved.
Ball Position Adjustment: Don’t Put the Ball Too Far Forward in Stance
Where you position the ball in your stance can have a significant impact on your ball flight. A common mistake that handicap golfers make is to place the ball too far forward.
In a correct swing path, the club head will move along a curved arc. On the downswing, the club will approach the ball from inside the target line. As it nears the impact zone and proceeds just past it, the head will be moving straight down the target line. And after that point, the club arcs back to inside the line.
This correct inside-straight-inside arc path indicates approximately where the ball should be positioned. If the ball is placed too much toward the target side of your stance, the movement of the club on the arc described above will already be starting back to the inside when it finally makes contact with the ball. If your club is moving to the inside at this crucial point (instead of straight down the line), it is again cutting across the ball and imparting sidespin that will result in a slice.
To fix this problem, be conscious of where in the correct swing path arc the ball is positioned and make sure that it is placed in the impact zone in a spot where your club head is moving down the target line, and not too far forward of that where it has begun its transition back to the inside.
The first step in correcting a slice is to fully understand its root cause. Undeniably, the root cause of a ball flight that curves from the left to the right is a club face that arrives at the ball open to the path that the club head is traveling.
With a solid grasp of this fundamental fact, you’ll be much better able to implement the grip, stance, and swing changes that are needed to square the face at impact. Identify which one of the adjustments discussed above is most relevant to your swing (or perhaps there may be more than one) and work on making the recommended changes.
A slice doesn’t have to be something you’re stuck with forever. With these adjustments and some practice, you’ll soon start seeing the ball turn over and your visits to the right rough will become far less frequent. If you have any questions, reach out to a Golf expert here on Curated for free, personalized advice and recommendations.