Whether it’s a chronic issue or not, chances are it has happened to you on the golf course. You’re standing on the tee box, ready to pelt one out there down the middle and then the most horrible thing in the world happens.
Not only is it horrible for your score, but it’s also horribly embarrassing. Especially if you’re playing with people you don’t really know all that well. In fact, one of the biggest reasons new golfers leave the game and seasoned golfers quit the game is because they feel at a loss with ball striking. It’s not fun to rip into 2 dozen golf balls every time you tee it up. It’s also pretty costly.
After teaching several thousand lessons to golfers of all skill levels, the most common complaints/requests I’ve received during the full swing evaluation sessions (ranked by frequency) are as follows:
- I don’t hit it far enough
- I slice the ball
- I don’t hit it solidly
Now, as we dive into cause and effect, it’s important to understand three basic premises:
- Club Face – primarily determines the starting direction of the ball. Becomes more apparent and influential when loft decreases. (Most influential with a putter)
- Swing Path – primarily determines the curvature of the ball in air.
- Gear Effect – This one usually throws people for a loop. But I’m going to make it easy: where you hit the ball on the club face itself will contribute to how a ball will want to spin. Ever heard the term toe hook? How about heel cut? That’s referring to the gear effect (and the physics) behind why a ball will want to curve in one direction or the other based on where you make contact with the ball on the club face. Reference the diagram below for side spin:
So, hitting the ball towards the TOE will impart right to left spin for a right handed player. This is draw spin, and typically regarded as the desired spin direction, especially for a slicer. But, it can also go too far and turn into a hook.
Thus, hitting the ball in the HEEL will impart left to right spin. Pair that with a golfer who is too steep with an open club face, and you have the perfect storm for ultimate disaster. Fore right! Unfortunately, it’s what most people who play this game struggle with.
Now to get rid of that slice you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, go out and play a few times and then come back to the rest of the post.
- Where is the ball starting (in reference to your target line)
- How much is it curving? (in yards)
If the ball is starting right and curving right, reference these steps:
- You must close the club face first. This can be accomplished with a stronger grip AND/OR a faster closing motion of the face in the downswing. Imagine yourself wearing a watch on your left hand. The goal of the drill is to completely “hide the watch face” from your eyes at impact. If you have a somewhat neutral to strong left hand grip, (this hand controls the club face) and you “hide the watch” at impact, you will NO LONGER start the ball way right of your target! Reference the photos below:
2. Now onto the path / face. This is one of the simplest drills (and most effective in all of my years of instruction) Put a head cover or piece of foam outside of the ball line. When the club is at rest (and presumably situated behind the ball on the center of the face) the toe of the club should just BARELY be resting away from the head cover. Use the photos for reference:
If you reference the below three pictures in order, you can see the demonstration of the club moving from the inside of the ball line to the center of the ball as it approaches impact. The idea is simple and intuitive: If you miss the head cover, your path is likely moving more inside out than outside in (shallow vs. steep) Inside out creates right to left spin (assuming the face is somewhat square to slightly open. We’ll get into more depth about ball flight laws in another post.) This also helps train your brain to guard against the dreaded HEEL hit, which produces nasty slices.
3. Use some impact tape on your club (or if you don’t have access to that, use talcum powder on the golf ball) Measure after each strike where you’re hitting it on the club face. Remember, we want to hit it slightly towards the toe to help with that draw spin!
Now, if the ball is starting left and then curving way off target to the right, I want you to JUST focus on steps 2 and 3 of the above. Experiment with it. If you end up working your way through that drill and your slice begins getting worse, (ball starting to the right and curving further right) go back and address step #1.
If you follow these three steps, you’ll be swinging from the inside of the golf ball, squaring the face up at impact, and hitting the ball closer to the center (or slightly towards the toe) instead of the heel! All three pieces contribute to high flying, low-spinning, powerful draws!
Let us know how it helps! If you’re still struggling with that nasty slice, shoot our resident pro, Dave, an email. He’ll be happy to help.