If you know a thing or two about golf, you know that there are a number of different golf shots. While the straight shot is usually the optimal solution for most targets, in some cases, you will want to go for an intentional fade. This is where the ball starts flying left and then slightly shifts to the right, allowing you to bypass certain hazards, such as bunkers and water hazards.
In most cases, a fade is intentional. However, the issue with it is that golfers, especially beginners and high-handicap golfers, aren’t able to execute it properly.
A shot that is very similar to the fade is the slice. It is the more common one, considering the fact that it happens unintentionally in most cases. The main difference between the two is that a slice drives the golf ball much further right than what happens with a fade shot.
Bearing this in mind, addressing the issue and lowering the chance of missing the target is quite important.
The goal of this article is to go through what a slice is in the first place and determine the causes for it to happen unintentionally. We will also give you options on how to fix it, allowing you to improve your overall game and stop hitting your balls into the trees, rough, and bunkers. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
What is a Slice Shot in the First Place?
Among the most common questions that we found on popular golf forums is, what is a slice? A simple answer would be that it is a shot in which the golf ball curves heavily from one side to another.
In most cases, the ball ends up landing far away from the target. It is quite common for a sliced ball to be heavily affected by windy conditions that could further exacerbate the issue.
If you are a right-handed golfer, the ball will curve sharply from left to right. Inversely, if you are left-handed, the ball will travel from right to left. While we did say that it can be intentional, in most cases, a slice shot is considered to be a mistake. No matter which hand you consider to be your leading one, the causes of a slice are the same.
As we have mentioned above, the slice and fade visually look the same and have the same flight pattern. Still, it is important to notice that the latter is much more gentle and is not highlighted by the aggressive curve that happens with a slice shot.
The tricky thing about it is that sometimes it can look like it’s going right to the target and then suddenly peel off. How much it will turn depends on the clockwise spin, which is determined by the position of the club head at the moment of impact.
You probably know that, for a straight golf shot, the clubface should be square with the ball. There are also cases when it should be closed. Well, the slice is just the opposite of that. Thus, as the main cause for a slice shot, we would list the fact that the clubface is completely open when it makes contact with the golf ball. Why does this happen?
There are a couple of reasons. Mostly, it is related to your address positioning or swing issues. We found that beginners have trouble with the so-called outside-to-inside swing. It is more popularly known as “coming over the top”, and it causes the unnecessary clockwise spin that results in a slice shot.
If these conditions, including improper positioning and the outside-to-inside swing combine, you may be looking at a slice shot that is incredibly grave. Considering that this can seriously affect your game and overall results, you will want to find ways to fix your slice.
Fundamentals of Your Setup
Luckily, it all comes down to getting back to the fundamentals and reevaluating your setup.
Among the most common issues is improper grip.
Chances are you might be holding the clubhead open before you even start your backswing. This is quite easy to fix by resetting your grip and setting it square. A problem that will require a bit more effort to fix is if you are rotating the club during the backswing itself. This is quite common for beginners who have yet to perfect their swing motion.
Visually, this looks like the clubhead is being set out and laid off. In reality, it should be pointing up and parallel to the ground if you want a straight shot. While this might be a bit trickier than setting up your grip, it is still doable as long as you are willing to make changes to your backswing.
Our personal recommendation is that you slow down and enjoy a 3:1 swing tempo ratio between the backswing and downswing. This will allow you to avoid rushing through the movement and rotating the club in your hands throughout the motion.
Apart from correcting the clubhead and the path, you will need to reconsider your address position.
Bearing this in mind, try to avoid an open stance. This is, once again, common in people that are just starting out with golf. You should maintain a square position that is highlighted by aligned shoulders, hips, and feet. In our other articles, we discuss what happens with your shoulders, arms, knees, and hips as the golf swing progresses.
The starting position should be square with flexed knees and straight arms directed toward the club. Also, the knee of the leading leg should be pointing towards the center of the golf ball.
You can always consider using golf aids that will restrict movement and ensure that the clubhead doesn’t lay off.
Still, this is just a temporary solution. In order to become a better golfer, you will need to get in a lot of practice sessions. You will need to focus on all the elements of a proper golf swing with no support from accessory equipment.
We will discuss a couple of drills and methods that should help improve your setup, clubhead, and grip.
However, before that, we want to address the scenarios where a player would be likely to hit a slice shot:
If a gentle fade shot is simply not enough to bypass the restrictions in front of the green, you might need to hit a slice shot. It can be quite efficient in going above or around bunkers, trees, and ponds. However, playing an intentional slice is not as simple as you might think.
In order to improve your success rate, you will need to invest a lot of effort and combine a couple of different elements. The first one is opening the clubface at the address. Contrary to what we have mentioned above, you should ensure that the center of the clubhead points to the back of the ball. This will allow the desired clockwise spin.
While setting up the clubhead correctly for the moment of impact is important, you will also want to reconsider your stance. Instead of going for the common square positioning, you will want to open up and make sure that you are aligned left of the intended target.
However, the fact that your body positioning is different doesn’t mean that your swing motion should be altered. Follow the recommended swing tempo of 3:1 to generate max power and speed as the clubhead makes solid contact with the golf ball.
Last but not least is resetting your grip.
For right-handed golfers, this would mean that both hands should be moved left towards the handle. Also, make sure that the amount of hand pressure that you are putting on the club is relatively low.
Common Faults and Fixes
We did our best to define what a slice shot is and how to create it. In order to be able to fix such a situation, you will need to know the root cause of it. Here are a couple of the most common situations that you might find yourself in.
Swinging to the left
It is not uncommon for right-handed players to find themselves leaning and swinging slightly to the left. The main issue with this is your visualization. By seeing the target to the left or right, you will try to follow its path and thus create an outside-to-inside swing. As we have mentioned above, this is one of the trickiest faults to fix.
The main issue with this is you are performing a backswing at a lower, steeper angle than the downswing. What this results in is pulling the arms in during the downswing in order to be able to hit the ball in the first place.
Instead of your arms naturally rotating, the low, steep angle during the backswing inhibits that. This causes the clubface to be open during impact with the golf ball.
The ideal solution for this is to take a 6-iron and grip it to where your left hand is six inches away from your right one. What you should do is focus on how your body naturally acts as you swing back and forth. The result should be that your left arm will fold and stay close to the chest while the right arm rotates and allows a natural follow through.
The top of the grip is something that you should focus on during the moment of impact and as you swing through the ball. You should let the momentum of the club drive you instead of you trying to retake control by altering to an unnatural position.
Shoulders leading the downswing
Another common issue is allowing the shoulders to take control. This is, once again, related to the balance between the momentum of your body and the club. One of the biggest misconceptions beginners suffer from is that the arms and shoulders should be leading the path.
That is completely false.
It is the grip and your hands that will be determining whether the clubhead is open, square, or closed. In order to fix a slice, we suggest that you engage in a drill that visualizes how you are swinging past your body. You should try to keep your shoulders, chest, and torso passive and relaxed, with the club circling around.
This drill should help you learn how to swing from the inside instead of falling victim to the slice and the over the top swing.
Tips for Fixing a Slice
Apart from the aforementioned drills, we have a couple of remaining tips that you should try out in order to fix your slice.
It is quite common for a weak grip to cause a slice. This is why you should focus on ensuring that your hands are opposite to the target while parallel to each other. A soft grip seems like the ideal solution. When visualizing how your hand should be positioned, you should imagine that the thumbs draw a straight line to your collar.
Also, going through this three-step exercise that will help you counteract a clockwise spin is a reliable choice. The first step is to practice making circles in the form of a backward loop, swinging the club directly to the target then over your head and down under.
The next step is to lift and turn, while the third one is to transition by creating a full backswing and releasing the ball into the air.
Hopefully, the aforementioned tips and drills will help you understand how to fix your slice. There is nothing that tricky about resetting your setup, grip, or clubhead positioning. Again, we suggest staying away from the slice shot especially, if you are a beginner.
However, we did provide instructions on how to intentionally curve the ball and bypass hazards, such as ponds and branches. With a bit of practice and your new knowledge of how to fix your golf slice, you should be well on your way to improving your overall golf game. This will make it more enjoyable too! Good luck!