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Fix Your Slice! The 3 Secrets All Golf Instructors Know

Updated on March 6, 2014
Look familiar?
Look familiar?

The 3 Causes

  1. Club path across impact zone.

  2. Angle of the club face at impact.

  3. Forearm position.

Get these correct, and the other swing mechanics won't matter.

The Lowdown

"Do you smell pizza? Cause I smell a slice!!"

If you're one of the 90% of all amateur golfers who slice it off the tee, then you may already be sick of this pun. You also could be interested to find out what's causing that ball to boomerang. Or even better yet, how to fix it. It may be simpler than you think.

It seems overwhelming how many avenues of advice one can go down. There's more swing aids, instructional videos, methods, and even equipment geared towards curing your slice than any one person could try in a lifetime. Beware fellow slicers, if you don't fully understand a swing aid's influence on mechanics, the product may not help. This article may help you understand golf ball physics and some swing mechanics so you can utilize your equipment.


Alright, enough small talk. HERE'S THE SECRET: There's plenty of creative methods to fix a slice, but there are really only three parts of the swing that it comes from. No matter your skill level, experience, gender, or body type, if you know the 3 Causes and can prevent them; you will hit it straight.


1. CLUB PATH ACROSS IMPACT ZONE

For right-handed golfers, the majority of slicers turn their small fade... into a huge slice. This shot shape (You know: the one that's headed further right than Rush Limbaugh) is almost always started by a player attempting to steer the ball left. Pulling the club head from outside-to-in (see above diagram) because they're afraid of the ball going right.

So, What Should I Do? I'll tell you, ladies and gentlemen, the answer lies within simple physics.

Think of a Ping Pong paddle and a ball, or tennis racket and ball. How would you make the ball curve right? You would cut across to the left... outside-to-in. The face of a golf club works exactly the same on a ball. So, preventing a slice means swinging either: square-to-square or inside-to-out.

No Throwin' Bows: Keegan Bradley (left) and Brandt Snedeker (right) do excellent jobs of keeping the trailing elbow tight against the torso.
No Throwin' Bows: Keegan Bradley (left) and Brandt Snedeker (right) do excellent jobs of keeping the trailing elbow tight against the torso.

Well, How Do I Do That? Ohhhh don't worry, inner dialogue of whoever is reading this article, I'll tell you.

The key lies in the elbow. If the left arm stays straight, the right elbow folds tightly against the side, like the tour pros pictured above. At the top of the backswing, The right elbow has to be pointed down and stay tucked. Everyone's heard of the untucked "flying elbow", which causes a golfer to go "over the top". But why does that happen?

Its simple. Because if the left arm stays straight, there's no literally just no room to get both arms to come into the impact zone from the inside. Flying elbow is more space, and forces you outside-to-in. You are tucking the elbow away to make room for both arms traveling at the same right, in sink with the torso, through the impact zone. Some people lack the flexibility to do this completely. So here's a drill that helps with that.

Bonus Drill: Tie a string around your right elbow, have a friend stand to your left. Go to the top of your backswing and pause. Your friend will pull the string down the target line, pulling your elbow into your side. (Not too hard, now!) This is what you should think of when you start your downswing.

2. ANGLE OF THE CLUBFACE AT IMPACT

Everyone has those days from time to time where they unintentionly hit every one of the 9 ball flights in the diagram above. I can personally verify that there is an infinite number of directions leading nowhere near the flagstick.

This aspect is much more simple than Club Path Through Impact Zone. But here's why it's the second symptom that golf instructor's will look for when diagnosing a slice: Even if you're club path is perfect, if the club face isn't square, the ball will still curve. With slicers, the issue is that the club face is open (see diagram). this means that the hands are not being released.


Rory: A fan captured photo shows the perfect release of Rory McIlroy
Rory: A fan captured photo shows the perfect release of Rory McIlroy

Well, How Do I Release the Clubhead? It's easy. So don't worry. We've got this.

For most golfers, its not that they don't release the club. It's that they don't know what releasing the club really is. Most would say its the same motion as a club waggle in a pre-shot routine. Flipping the face through the impact. This is wrong.

A proper club head release is done by rotating your right thumb around the shaft, and down your target line. Imagine taking a club and gripping it normally. Now imagine, the shaft is the point of axis and everything rotates around. Now without making the shaft move laterally or changing your grip, twist the grip forward slightly with your right thumb. This will cause your right arm to extend and your left arm to fold.

Presto, there's a proper release through impact.

Bonus Drill: This drill can be done hitting balls. First, you setup to address position. Take the club halfway back and stop completely. While you're here, check your backswing to make sure your left arm's straight and right elbow is folding but the club head isn't tracking too far inside (inside-to-out is still bad). After several seconds, begin your downswing with everything in sync. Your downswing should feel like your whole body is swinging through with zero effort. As if you're giving 5% power. Your release and follow through should just barely make it to waist-high where you hold your finish.

Your head, shoulders, and belt buckle should all be stacked squarely and facing the target. The club shaft should be pointing at the target, with the club head toe up at the sky. If you dropped the club and put your left arm down, it should look like you are going for a handshake from the target you were aiming at.


3. FOREARM POSITION

David Leadbetter: the world renowned instructor demonstrating that the distance between the elbows does not vary
David Leadbetter: the world renowned instructor demonstrating that the distance between the elbows does not vary

Your forearms determine where your hands go during the golf swing. If your forearms are out of position, your hands will be lost. If this happens, you might as well just close your eyes and pray to make contactl. In a sense, the forearms are used to guide the club on plane, and keep your body synced up as a whole. The "flying elbow" leads to "chopping wood".

How Do I Control My Forearms? I've got the answer and its all based on leverage, to keep your flying, I'd-rather-be-wood-chopping elbow in check.

Note in the image above that Leadbetter keeps his elbows at a consistent distance apart. This is done by keeping the eyes of the elbows (inside) facing up and the elbows kept closely together at address. Keep your "eyes up" and your hands in the center of your torso on the takeaway. Your chest, arms and hands form a triangle that should all be move at the same time on the takeaway. This causes the club to automatically stay on plane for the backswing.

A golfer also has to keep their triceps touching their torso at address. The back of your elbows should be very close or touching the top of the rib cage. If you're making this change, it may affect the distance you stand away from the ball, or the angle of posture. In this case, its best that you just adopt the new posture and ball position which might be fought to get used to. It's worth it.

Bringing It All Together

If this change feels uncomfortable, just keep up the practice and engrain the feeling. If it's not apparent why this forearm position is so important, keeping eyes up and triceps-torso connected will:

  • Make your takeaway one piece. -Just one! So easy to keep track of!
  • Force you to start the backswing on plane. -You can't mess it up!
  • Allow you to keep your trailing elbow tight. -To setup the downswing on plane!
  • Keep club at a consistent angle of attack. -Less chili dip chunks & thinned worm burners!
  • Properly release the club from better hand position shaft angle. -Face angle control!
  • Allow you to shake hands with the target. -Controlled height on ball flight!


Bonus Drill: Take practice swings with a full-length mirror behind you (in respect to the target line) at address and face-on at address with a checklist of these changes. Incorporate and engrain them as much as possible.

IT'S PHYSICS

If each of the 3 Causes can be stopped, and the adjustments mentioned above all fall into place during a golf swing, your golf ball will not slice; it's physics.


I hope my swing tips help improve your game. Thanks for reading! It'd be great to hear your comments on the page and please share if you found this useful.

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