It’s one of the most common challenges amateur golfers face — why am I slicing the ball and how do I fix it?
Let’s start with physics first.
The golf ball receives its directions from the club head at impact. Although the physics of a club colliding with a ball are complicated, you only need to know two main factors to fix your slice: 1) The direction the club face is pointed at impact relative to the target (face angle), and 2) the direction the club is traveling at impact relative to the target (club path).
For a slicer, the club path is left with a face angle pointed somewhere to the right of the club path. For example, a slice that ends up landing near the target may have a club path 10 degrees left with a face angle that points 5 degrees left. Although the face angle is pointing left of the target, it is still open relative to the club path. A slice that ends up out of bounds to the right might have the same 10 degree left club path with a face angle that’s pointed at the target. This ball will start straight, but due to the 10 degree differential between the face angle and club path it will have a massive amount of slice spin.
For most slicers, at some point in the golf swing the club face becomes too open. As a result of the open club face position, the player subconsciously forces the body to intervene with compensatory moves that help pull the face and path to the left. These corrective actions can include an “over the top” transition, a “flip” through impact, “hanging back” or other problems.
If you believe you suffer from one of these issues, you need to understand that these moves could actually be helping you! Sometimes in golf two wrongs can make a right and only fixing one wrong will oftentimes make you worse.
When a golfer with these issues tries to “stop coming over the top,” they may actually succeed in straightening out their club path. For example, the same golfer may now swing with a club path of 0 degrees, but because they have not addressed the clubface, they now hit a ball that starts right and curves more right. This results in bigger misses and the player eventually reverts back to their old move before getting a chance to change the club face.
Therein lies the problem. In order to fix your slice, you need to change both your face angle and your club path.
If you are a slicer, you first need to find a way to get, and keep, the club face more closed throughout the swing. Fixes could include strengthening your grip, avoiding the rolling of the forearms, or flattening the left wrist. If you’re not sure which mistake you make, ask PGA pro for help.
Although the shots may go left at first, once the clubface is under control you should see a change in your ball flight. If you stick with the upgraded clubface position long enough, your over-the-top moves will go away.
If you’re part of the 10 percent of golfers who fight a hook, simply try the opposite of the ideas above.
• Chris Green is a PGA Professional and the director of Instruction at Glen View Club in Golf, Ill. He was a first-team All-American at Illinois Wesleyan University and leads the 2018 Illinois PGA Player of the Year points list. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @chrisgreengolf.
For more from the Illinois PGA, visit ipga.com
• Editor’s note: With assistance from the Illinois PGA, the Daily Herald provides golf tips each Wednesday from a PGA Professional.