We’ve all been there – the dreaded slice shot that starts off the tee going straight before violently slicing onto the next fairway or in someone’s backyard….
You replay the swing over and over in your mind and feel like you’ve done everything the same on tee but for some reason the ball slices sharply wreaking havoc on your score for the hole.
Let’s examine this issue a bit deeper by diving into a few quick tips to help you hit straighter shots both off the tee and on your mid-game (for simplicity we’ll be assuming you’re a right handed golfer, but if that’s not the case, just reverse the directions to the opposite side of the ball).
First let’s define what a slice shot is:
When you slice the ball, the flight path of the ball curves in the shape of a banana starting out to the left of the target before dramatically moving back to the right of the target. The slice shot is one of the most common mishits for amateur golfers and it usually leads to penalty strokes and lost balls.
Now let’s break down basic slice avoidance in three parts:
Avoid Adjusting Your Aim
Golfers who slice the ball will often try to adjust their aim (aka alignment) and move their body left to change their aim. The idea being if you’re going to slice the ball you might as well aim well to the left so that the ball will move back towards the intended target.
The problem with this “solution” is two-fold. First, if you do manage to make solid contact and the ball doesn’t slice you’ll be well left of your target, and second, by simply “playing around your slice” you’ll never give yourself the opportunity to truly fix the problem. This is not even mentioning the fact that a slice takes quite a bit of distance off the shot, so you’re selling yourself short every time you play into it.
Instead, try keeping your shoulders and body aimed at your target. A simple way to check your aim and alignment is to hold the golf club horizontally across your thighs with the butt end of the handle pointing at your target, then move the club up across your shoulders to see if they too are aimed in the same direction. You can also ask your playing partner to spot check you to see if you’re aimed at your target or if you’re too far left or right.
Truthfully, every golfer should own a cheap set of alignment sticks (usually costing only around $20 or less on Amazon) for use when practicing on the range, after all, they work, they’re inexpensive, and even the PGA TOUR pros use them!
Starting with these simple alignment techniques will make sure you’re squaring up properly to the ball and will help set the foundation for a proper swing. Keep in mind that even something as simple as having your body misaligned can cause a slice, so make sure you’re pointing your shoulders and hips in the direction you want the ball to travel.
Changing Your Grip or Shaft
Proper grip pressure is key to a good swing. A weaker grip will lead to a more open club face at impact and can therefore easily amplify a slice. This doesn’t mean that you need to squeeze the life out of the club, because doing so will result in the opposite of a slice…known as a hook.
For righties, turning your grip slightly to the right will lead to a “stronger grip,” which will help prevent you from gripping the club more tightly. The key with a golf grip is to avoid all tension in your wrists while eliminating the “weak grip” so that you’re not leaving the club face open at impact.
Bonus Tip: You may want to stop by a local golf shop if you are playing with a regular driver shaft and try hitting a stiffer shaft. More flexible shafts allow the club to bend more during the swing which can lead to that push slice we’re trying to avoid.
The point of impact is the most important thing to consider when correcting a slice. For a golf ball to slice from left to right it must be spinning in a clockwise direction.
To understand better how this works try to visualize the process of striking a tennis ball with a racket. In this example an open racquet that makes contact with the ball in a right to left motion will cause clockwise spin on the ball, making it curve from left to right. That’s the exact same thing that his happening with a golf slice.
One easy way to tell if this is what is happening in your swing is to simply look at your divot (if you left one). On the course (not so much on the tee box), the divot you create with your club (on a slice shot) will be pointing left, indicating that you are coming across the ball on impact.
If you’re noticing a theme with these tips you’re right. The key to correcting your slice is to make sure your fundamentals (aim, grip, and impact) are executed correctly.
So, if you’re trying to stop slicing the ball forget the gimmicks and don’t try to pile on a million little adjustments. Instead focus on your going back to your swing fundamentals and you’ll start to see a positive impact on your ball flight and direction.
Recommended Further Reading
Here are a few books we recommend for anyone who wants to dive deeper into the subject.