Golf seems so easy. There’s no pitcher, no curveball like in baseball. In golf, the ball doesn’t even move. It just sits there waiting for you to swing. It must be easy, right? Wrong! When you do manage to hit the ball, it often slices to the right, unless you play lefthanded, and it slices to your left. Why do golfers tend to slice the ball?
Golfers slice the ball for a number of reasons including a poor shoulder line to target line, lack of flexibility, incorrect posture, club face too open, poor finger/thumb grip, and poor arm position.
We’d all prefer that our ball went straight. When it doesn’t, the first question we often ask is why golfers slice the ball. Slices are disastrous because they start toward the target and then spin away, robbing the shot of valuable distance.
Right-handed golfers slice the ball when they naturally swing more to their left. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, when they purposely try to strike the ball and drive it more left, the slices continue due to the added spin put on the ball.
Although golf shots can go straight, hook, draw, fade, or slice, it’s the slice that’s most troubling for players. This is because, while there is one main reason for a slice, a host of contributing issues may need to be addressed.
Why Golfers Slice The Ball
If you want to understand or fix your slice, read the five fundamental reasons players swing through the ball too close to their lead foot and slice the ball.
Reason for a Slice #1: Poor Shoulder Line to Target Line
Your lead shoulder must point towards your target, not left or right. Swinging a golf club isn’t like swinging a baseball bat—a bat swings in the horizontal range. A golf club swing is like a metronome on a vertical plane. The shot will err when the downswing deviates left or right or the lead shoulder points away.
When the upper body rotates out to in or turns away from the target and finishes with a follow-through that resembles a baseball swing, the club will strike the ball so that it spins heavily to the right, causing a slice.
Reason for a Slice #2: Lack of Flexibility and Incorrect Posture
Golf takes flexibility. The inability to swing a golf club accurately to create a smooth back (back swing) and forth (follow-through) swing is mandatory.
The correct posture (slightly bent at the hip) helps distribute your weight correctly, allowing for better balance. Swinging with too much upright posture is likely to place the weight on the heels, creating a right to left swing and a slice.
Flexibility can also add to a long backswing, but that only helps if you follow through with your shoulder line still pointed at your target line. If flexibility is a problem, consider taking an abbreviated backswing to keep your follow-through straight. You’ll lose distance but gain accuracy and cure your slice.
Bending too far over the ball will make it impossible to have a balanced backswing and follow-through. Practice and the driving range is your friend.
Reason for a Slice #3: Club Face Too Open
Another common cause of a slice is an open club face. An open clubface adds loft, but the side-swipe type of strike ads spin and creates the slice. In many cases, this happens when you grip your club too tightly, which causes the club shaft to be pulled into the palm.
The correct golf club grip is to have the fingers, not the palm, wrapped around the shaft.
Reason for a Slice #4: Poor Finger and Thumb Grip
Once you’ve experimented, you’ll find that holding the shaft across your fingers instead of in the palm of your hand makes it easier to keep the clubface square on strike. This will dramatically increase your chance of keeping the ball straight in flight.
Next, adjust your thumbs from straight down the grip. If you hold your club out perpendicular to the ground, you’ll see that your thumbs point straight ahead with the club. This seems right, but it isn’t.
Instead, your dominant (lower) hand’s thumb should be slightly off-center towards your lead shoulder. This allows you to drive through the ball without twisting your lead arm while trying to keep the club face straight.
It will also help keep you from dipping your back and shoulder to try and keep the clubface straight, which robs distance and can make you top the ball.
Reason for a Slice #5: Poor Arm Position
If you allow your arms to fly away from your sides during the follow-through, you’ll roll your wrists and the clubface. Instead, keep your underarms close to your sides instead of having your elbows fly outward in front of you.
You may be able to imagine a good swing if you think of your arms as the hands of a clock – moving in a circular motion. If your arms move inward or outward, away from that imaginary plane, you’ll have trouble striking the ball squarely and often slice.
Also, know that your arms can’t stay straight like a clock. Regardless of how often friends try to help you by saying, “keep your lead arm straight.” As your swing follows through the ball, you’ll have to allow your elbow to relax and fold. That’s alright; it’s necessary.
Here’s a video to help you with your golf swing.
Do you know what happens if you keep your lead arm stiff too long? That’s right; you’ll keep the clubface open and slice the ball. You can do better!
Don’t believe it? Try taking a swing or two with your hands spread apart on the shaft instead of interlocking your pinky and index finger. See how your lead arm relaxes and bends as you pass through the plane of the ball?
That movement is what you’re looking for in a golf swing.