Just hearing the word ‘slice’ is enough to send shivers down any golfing enthusiast’s spine!
On the road to becoming a good golf player, one of the most important steps is to hone your technique and, with the correct training tips and strategies, you can go from hitting a hook to regularly making consistent shots.
But, if you don't learn how to stop hitting shots with an open clubface and causing your ball to veer to the right, you probably won't get very far. Maybe you don’t have a good grip, have little control of your swing, or perhaps you find yourself struggling to properly position your hands to achieve a good release.
Luckily, the good news is that just about every golf player at some point will find themselves slicing, and it’s usually caused by factors that have simple solutions.
Below, we’ve created an easy to follow guide that’s full of helpful tips that you’ll be able to put into practice during your next round of golf. From choosing the right driver to correctly setting your hands, just keep reading to learn how to put an end to slicing once and for all…
What is a Slice?
First off, a "slice" is a type of golf shot in which the golf ball curves dramatically in flight from left to right (for a right-handed golfer).
The slice can be played intentionally, but 99% of the time, it is usually the result of a mishit. Slices are the most common problem for recreational and high-handicap golfers. Plus, the shape of a sliced shot differs for right-handed golfers and left-handed golfers.
At its core, a sliced shot is mostly caused by the clubface arriving at impact with the golf ball in an ‘open’ face position.
It can also be caused by a weak swing, which may cause the face to open, or due to an outside-to-inside swing path that opens the face by "swiping" across the golf ball, therefore creating a slice.
1. Choose The Right Driver
Before you take your swing, you’ll need to evaluate your equipment, and a driver is the best place to start. Almost all slicers use a driver that has too little of a loft, which causes a weak and high ball flight.
Nowadays, many drivers are adjustable and allow you to increase the loft and move weight to the clubhead's heel, which allows for a more controlled, precise ball flight path.
Besides loft, you’ll also want to do double-check that your driver has the correct shaft flex for you and your individual ability. Oftentimes, a slice is caused when a shaft has too much flex, as it makes it more difficult to square the face upon impact. Here’s a simple guide to selecting the correct shaft:
- X Flex (Extra Stiff) - this shaft flex is suitable for swings that reach 110mph or higher, and have a driver carry distance of around 270 yards.
- S Flex (Stiff Flex) - this shaft flex is made for swings anywhere between 95 to 110mph, and a driving distance of 240 to 270 yards.
- R Flex (Regular) - this shaft flex is best for swing speeds of 85 to 95 ph, and a driving distance of between 200 to 240 yards.
- A or M Flex (Senior) - this shaft flex is ideal for those with a slightly slower swing speed of 75 to 85 mph, which usually covers a driver distance of around 180 to 200 yards.
- L Flex (Ladies) - a ladies shaft flex is designed with women golfers in mind and is ideal for swing speeds that reach around 75mph, with a driver distance of 180 yards and less.
Choosing the correct shaft flex for your ability is one of the first steps to helping combat a slice. If you’re ever unsure, you can always visit your local golf store, where they will be able to help you figure out which shaft flex is right for you.
2. Adjust your position and setup
Another way to quit slicing the ball is by adjusting your position and setup. One of the simplest ways to do this is to drop your right foot back slightly while standing at address.
By doing so, it will naturally create an inside to outside swing path and will help to give you more room to swing out towards your target. This will help to counteract an over the top motion on the downswing, which can cause a slice.
You should also make sure to check your grip pressure, too. There are two common grip mistakes that make a slice almost inevitable. Many players use a grip that's too weak (with the thumbs pointing straight down towards the handle) and this can cause a slice.
If this sounds like you, try making your grip stronger so that your hands are turned away from the target and your palms are parallel with each other at address. Try to visualize lines coming up from the base of your thumbs, they should hit the point of your collar on the right side of your shoulders.
Additionally, another surefire way to cause a slice mishit is by gripping the driver too tightly. By doing this, you’ll keep your hands from releasing through impact. A quick and easy solution is to take a softer grip.
3. Practice Drills
Practice makes perfect, right? Right!
During your next golf session, try out these two drills to help you make more consistently straight shots:
Drill One: Baseball Swing
Take a 7-iron driver and begin swinging it in the way you would a baseball bat. Keep the club level as you wrap the club upwards past your shoulders, and practice rolling your hands as your arms move into an outstretched position.
After you’ve tried a few swings, begin to roll your hands more quickly, as this will promote the feeling of closing your hands at impact. A square clubface will help to create a straighter shot. Try this drill 10 times before you hit your driver, and you’ll begin to notice that you’ll hit straighter shots.
Drill Two: Muscle Confusion
With the same 7-iron, relax your body and stand with your feet together.
After you’ve gotten yourself into this position, pull back as far as you can into a backswing. As your feet will be directly side by side, you should notice that the club is lower than normal, as your stance will be creating a narrower swing path.
Then, without moving your body, allow your arms to drop downwards. If executed correctly, your right elbow should push into your side, and allow the clubhead to move outwards, allowing the end of the club to rise closer to your face.
This is the ‘ideal’ swing position for achieving a straight shot so, if you notice that the club is wrapping around your body, you’ll likely create a slice.
Drill Three: Hank Haney Slice Drill
With your driver and standing at address, carefully lift your driver around a foot over the ground.
It will help to naturally level out your swing in order to help promote an ‘inside to outside’ swing path which will help you turn the clubface at impact. During your practice swings, practice feeling the way that the clubface squares around 2 or 3 feet behind the golf ball.
If you’ve carried this drill out correctly, it should feel as though your left hand is squaring and turning the clubface outwards.
By squaring the clubface earlier, this drill will help to promote a swing path that leans to the right and has a square clubface upon impact. Before each session, we recommend practicing this drill 5-10 times before taking your actual shot, as this drill will help you to create a slight draw.
4. Square the Clubface Early
One of the most important aspects in determining whether you slice or hit the ball straight is the position of your clubface upon impact.
By squaring the clubface up earlier on in your swing, you’ll ensure that no matter how fast or powerful the downswing is, the clubface will be squared up and open upon impact.
As soon as you learn how to swing your driver on the right path and square the clubface upon impact, you’ll notice that you’ll be hitting your ball farther and straighter than ever.
But, if you do notice that your slice still prevails, or you find that you start to hit slices in later rounds, why not switch to a more forgiving driver? The driver is one of the hardest clubs to square up, and a driver built to be extra-forgiving will ensure that even mis-hits are playable.
5. Work on Your Flexibility
Some people are more flexible than others. In fact, women often have very long backswings as they tend to be more flexible.
If your flexibility is particularly restricted, you might find it very hard to achieve proper body rotation during the backswing. Full body rotation is important in the backswing because it allows the club to follow a powerful and direct downswing path.
If you want to work on increasing your flexibility, we have a simple position that you can try out during your next round of golf. All you’ll need to do is gently take your right foot and carefully drop it back into a closed position (as though your lower body is almost turned away from the direction you’re hitting).
By doing so, this will immediately help to create a little more flexibility and will allow you to achieve a full-body rotation. The club will be able to travel into a more powerful downswing position, which will result in a more powerful and straighter shot.
6. Make Sure You Have the Correct Ball Position
A common problem that many golfers find themselves struggling with is hitting their clubs straight, but finding that they slice their driver. Oftentimes, it is due to an incorrect ball position.
A ball position that is too far back can cause a slice. So, the easiest way to remedy this is to hit your driver with a ball that is positioned more forward than you’d have it when hitting with a club.
You should also make sure that you position your shoulders correctly. As you’ll be moving your ball more forward, it’s also important that you’re allowing your shoulders to gently roll backward and away from the direction of the target.
Your leading shoulder (the shoulder closest to your target) should naturally raise higher and your back shoulder (the shoulder furthest away from the target) should be positioned closer to the ground.
By tilting your shoulders correctly, you’ll allow your shoulder line to correctly match your body line. This will directly affect your swing path and allow the clubface to have enough space to get back to square upon impact, without compromising on speed and power.
7. Relax Your Lead Arm
Another reason you might be slicing your ball is due to a stiff lead arm. If your lead arm stays straight and stiff for too long during the downswing, it can make it very difficult for your leading elbow to relax and fold properly on the forward swing.
If you find that your lead arm is staying stiff for too long, you’ll find that the clubface will remain open, which will cause the ball to slice, and the speed to decrease.
During your next game, practice standing with your hands split apart. This will encourage your leading arm to relax and fold inwards during the forward swing, which will achieve a square face upon impact, leading to a straight, slice-free shot.
Remember, just because you might be prone to slicing, it doesn’t mean that it has to be that way forever. Hopefully, after reading this guide, you will have discovered that slices are pretty common to players of all levels, and they can be easily prevented.
By making some switches to your equipment, making sure that your driver has the correct shaft flex, and by incorporating some different drills into your golf sessions, you’ll slowly but surely begin to notice that you’ll be making straighter shots in no time.