What is a slice? A slice is a golf shot moves sharply to the right (if you’re right-handed) or sharply to the left (if you’re left-handed).
Not to be confused by a fade which is a shot that starts out at the target and then moves slightly to the right (right-handed) or slightly to the left (left handed). The quick definition is that it is the combination of an open clubface and an out-to-in club path that puts sidespin on the golfball. The slice is often called a “banana shot” because it has a sharp turn, going sideways instead of forwards. The slice is probably the “NUMBER ONE” most active golf fault in the game. It is common for beginners to struggle with the slice as it can be incredibly frustrating to get rid of. But don’t worry, stay with me!
Your target line in golf is an imaginary line going from your golfball, towards your target. This line extends past the golf ball as well (backswing line). A perfect golf shot goes straight back “down the backswing line” and then straight through “down the target line.”
It is near impossible to have a swing the goes straight back and straight through down the target line perfectly, but by using the following tips, you will narrow the gap and eliminate your slice by limiting an:
- Out-to-in swing path
- Open clubface
What Causes a Slice
This may seem like a loaded answer as there are several reasons why your ball may have a slice
A few key factors to what causes a slice are:
- Centeredness of Contact
- Clubhead Path
- Clubhead Position
Centeredness of Contact
An undesired golf ball flight may be caused by not hitting the center of the club face. A ball struck off either the heel or toe will create added spin on the golf ball resulting in an inaccurate shot. For right-handed golfers, a shot hit off the heel of the club will lead in a shot that goes towards the right of your target. A shot hit off the toe of the club will result in a shot that goes towards the left of your target.
Clubhead path is the direction that your club comes down at the ball in relation to your target line. It is one of the main factors that influence ball flight. (right or left spin) A perfect swing path is one that goesstraight back“down” the target line and then straight through “at” the target line. If this were to be achieved, your shot would have a 0-degree swing path, and there would be minimal spin on your golf ball. Unfortunately, we can’t have a perfect swing path every shot ????. But what we can do is condition our muscles so we can make repetitive motions at the golf ball, thus improving our consistency!
Out-to-in swing: This is the swing path that causes a fade or a slice. When the club comes “out” over the target line on the backswing, and then cuts “across” the target line on the downswing. The severity of your slice will be determined by how much you cross the target line when you cut “across the ball” on your downswing. (Assuming a square clubface)
In-to-Out swing: This is the swing path that causes a draw or a hook. Your club comes “inside” the target line on the takeaway and then goes “outside” the target line on the downswing. Again, the severity of the draw or hook will be determined by how much you cross the target line on the downswing. (Assuming a square clubface)
The clubface position is the angle in which your club is “open” or “closed” at impact. It is the primary factor in determining which direction your ball will start. (right, left, straight)
Open Clubface- Golf ball starts out right of the target (right-handed) or left of the target (left handed)
Closed Clubface- Golf ball starts out left of the target (left-handed) or right of the target (left handed)
(Assuming a perfect swing path)
Clubhead Path/ Clubface Position Relationship
Alright, let’s bring this all together because I know it is confusing! Like I said earlier, a slice is caused by the relationship between clubhead path and clubface position. If you have an out-to-in swing coupled with an open clubface, your golf ball is going to have extra side spin resulting in a slice.
Here are some examples: (flip the starting direction if you’re left handed)
Bob has an out-to-in swing path of 8 degrees (going across the target line). His clubface is 3 degrees open. Because of the swing path/clubface relationship, Bob’s golfball will start out slightly right of the target line and then continue to go to the right because of the 8 degrees out-to-in swing. The result will be a slice.
Bob has an out-to-in swing path of 10 degrees. His clubface is 5 degrees closed at impact. Bob’s golfball will start to the left of the target line (because of the closed clubface) and then move to the right because of the 10-degree out-to-in swing.
Simply put, your clubface angle determines which direction the ball starts and the club path direction at impact determines which way the ball is going to move in the air.
(Note: The more clubhead speed you have, the more club path direction influences the starting direction of the golf ball. You only need to be concerned with this when your clubhead speed starts reaching 90-100 mph.)
Do you Have the Right Golf Equipment?
Alright, so now that we learned that an out-to-in swing path and open clubface create a slice, now we have to know if our equipment is right for us. Having clubs that are are too flexible or stiff can impact your club path and face angle during your swing. The results can cause inconsistencies resulting in a slice or a hook.
Here’s a quick recommendation on if you need a different golf shaft:
- Get a more flexible shaft if you have a lot of pushed shots or your drives that have an extreme slice. A more flexible shaft will help you release the clubface faster at impact. (Reduce the open clubface position)
- Get a stiffer shaft if you pull a lot of shots and hook the ball often with your drives. A stiffer shaft will prevent you from releasing (closing the clubface) too quickly at impact.
I highly recommend reading my article on what golfing equipment you need to avoid adding an unnecessary spin on the golf ball!
Time to cure your slice forever! The first thing we need to change is your stance alignment. Unfortunately, I cannot see your exact golf swing, but I’m willing to bet that you have an open golf stance.
An open golf stance is when your feet and shoulders are aimed left of your target line (if right-handed) or right of your target line (if left handed). This type of shot encourages an out-to-in club path which (as we learned above) is one of the leading causes of a slice. An excellent way to check your alignment is to lay down a golf club at your feet, going across your toes. Take a step back and look where you are aiming. You’d be surprised how many of my student’s think that they are square but have an open stance!
Having the proper grip with your top hand will dictate which direction the golf ball starts!
- Standard Grip: When you look down at your top hand and see 2 and a half knuckles, we consider this a standard golf grip.
- Strong Grip: When you look down at your top hand and see 3 or more knuckles, we consider this a strong grip
- Weak Grip: When you look down at your top hand and see only 1 and a half knuckles, we consider this a weak grip.
Our goal for curing your slice is to “release the club” Faster (This means closing the clubface at a faster rate.) To achieve this, you have to use a STRONGER grip. You want to see at least 3 knuckles on your top hand when looking down at your grip
To see three knuckles on your top hand, turn your top hand inwards, towards the center of the golf grip. It will feel uncomfortable at first (which is a good thing), but after some practice, you will start seeing your shots start out more down your target line.
Did you know that having the right golf tee placement can make a big difference when trying to achieve a square clubface at impact? Many golfers throw down their tee and swing the club without ever looking at the angle of the tee.
When your golf tee is leaning…
…It changes the angle in which the clubface hits the ball. For example, if you tee your golf ball up and it is leaning backward, you are going to hit the golf ball earlier in your downswing which usually results with an open clubface. (We don’t want this!)
Always make sure that your golf tee is straight up and down and that there is no lean. This will help you become more consistent off the tee!
Visualizing your swing path is crucial when trying to get rid of your slice. Remember, we want a more in-to-out swing path, so we are hitting the “inner quadrant” or the golf ball. Take a few practice swings and prepare for your shot so you can visualize and feel your desired swing path. Sometimes it helps to pick a blade of grass or divot on your desired swing path and use that as a reference when swinging. This helps your brain focus in on a specific target and allows your muscles to execute the correct swing path needed to avoid the slice!
Before I go up to take my shot, I like to pick an object in the distance that is in line with my target. (tree, house, etc.) This helps me follow through right down my target line, and helps me avoid going across the golf ball!
The takeaway is essential and is the foundation of your golf swing. Everything starts with the takeaway!
There are a few checkpoints you need to follow to avoid a slice:
- Drag the club back two feet before starting your backswing. This extends your swing arc helping you come more “shallow” at the ball.
- Use your shoulders during the takeaway, not your wrists! A lot of golfers start their backswing by breaking their wrists. Keep those wrists locked!
- Don’t sway back with the takeaway. Keep your weight right over the golf ball during the takeaway and push your arms back right down your target line.
After the takeaway is the backswing:
- Keeping your weight over the golf ball, push your rear hip back
- Keep your lead arm extended during the whole swing. (You should feel like your lead arm is pushing your body back.
- Make sure you are “rotating” around the golfball and not sliding! Sliding will cause you to use your wrists on the downswing to catch up, which will lead to an open clubface or an out-to-in swing.
What You Should Feel at the Top
At the top of your swing, you should:
- Be loaded over the ball
- Feel Powerful: Because your back hip is fully rotated
- Your front arm should still be extended, and your weight should still be over the golf ball.
A few things to avoid when you are at the top of your swing are:
- Don’t over rotate your body. An over-rotation will lead to a downswing that comes “over the top” and will cause an out-to-in swing aka SLICE
- Don’t stand up at the top. Standing up at the top of the swing will cause a lot of inconsistencies at contact resulting in you having to use your wrists to “time” your swing.
- Don’t come inside too much on your backswing. If you arrive too far from the inside on your backswing, you will have a limited range of motion at the top of your swing. Your body will realize that you are too far inside and adjust (coming over the top) for you to come back at the golf ball resulting in a slice
Remember, The direction of the downswing is what determines your club path!
To have a proper downswing:
- Push your front hip back to allow room for your arms to hit the ball
- Keep your front arm extended and don’t break your wrists (Feels like your swing is being controlled by your lower body)
- Visualize hitting the “inner” part of the golf ball and swinging “out and around” rather than “across”!
If you’ve followed these tips so far, there will be a lot of momentum moving down at the golf ball. We have to make sure that this momentum keeps moving “after” contact by holding our finish with the follow through.
- Feel all of your weight transferred past the golf ball on your front side
- Your sternum (chest) should be pointing towards the left of your target if you are right-handed, right if left handed.
- Finish tall and balanced. Make sure you are not falling to one side or the other
- Hold your finish for 3 seconds to make sure that you have fully rotated your body
I know this is A LOT of info to swallow, but by applying these tips to your game, you will start being able to control your ball flight and eliminate the slice from your game! If you are brand new to golf, check out my beginning golfer survival guide here. This will give you all of the information you need to start improving your game!
Remember this checklist to get rid of your slice forever!
- Is my stance square to my target line?
- Am I using a strong grip to release the clubface faster?
- What am I visualizing so my swing path can come from the “inside” on the downswing?
- Is my golf tee leaning or is it straight up and down?
- Drag the club back with your shoulders two feet before going up on the backswing
- Push your rear hip back while keeping your weight over the golf ball. (Don’t slide back)
- Feel powerful and loaded over the ball at the top of your swing
- Push the lead hip back to clear the way for the arms to drop
- Keep your lead arm fully extended, so you don’t flip your wrists at impact
- Finish tall and complete your follow through with a full rotation and weight transfer
Start practicing these tips on the course or at the driving range, and I guarantee your shots will be straighter and you will hit more fairways!