What Causes a Slice in Golf?

By Bill Herrfeldt

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Right-handed golfers often have the tendency to hit the golf ball to the right--this is called a slice. Left-handers also slice the ball, but it will head to the left. In most cases, a slice occurs when you make impact with an open clubface with either a straight or outside-in swing path. Everyone who has a slice ailment has an identifiable problem with their swing. Isolate and correct the reason, and you'll likely stop the uncontrolled slice.

Setup & Ball Position

Your set-up will have a direct effect on your swing path. When you look down, your feet, knees, hips and shoulders should be on the same vertical plane and parallel to the target line at setup and impact. If any one is open to your target line that will cause an outside-in swing path. For example, if your left foot is too far back you will have an open stance that doesn't allow your shoulders to make complete rotation. During the downswing your hands will drop in towards your body. This opens the clubface and puts left to right spin on the ball for the right-handed player.

If at your address your golf ball is too far forward, you are likely to never close your club face, which will lead to a slice. Move the ball back to about the middle of your stance.

Weak Grip, Death Grip

Many golfers' problems with a slice begin with the way they hold the golf club.
- They might have a so-called "weak grip," which means that their thumbs are more at the top of the club; so, when they swing, they leave the club face open--which causes them to slice. If they were to rotate their hands clockwise, so they see the top three knuckles of their left hand, they are more likely to rotate their wrists at the bottom of the swing and close the club face.
- They might grip the club too tightly. This will restrict the swing, the tightness of the grip will affect the arms, and the ball will slice.

Head Ahead of the Ball

If the golfer's head moves ahead of the ball in the direction of the target anytime during the swing, the golfer is likely to slice the golf ball because the face of the club will be open when the ball is hit. The open club face is caused by two errors:
- restricting the turn of the golfer's right shoulder to under the left shoulder
- not allow the golfer's right wrist to cross over the left at the moment of impact
If you make sure that your head stays in the same position, slightly behind the golf ball throughout your swing, you will begin hitting the ball straighter, and probably longer.

Rushing & Deceleration

Keep your swing at a smooth and steady pace. If you rush your swing, your hands will likely get to the ball before you have done a full body turn. This will block the ball off to the righ and result in a slice.

Decelerating through impact slows down the clubface into impact. This opens the clubface. Your hands are already leading the clubhead; when you decelerate, you don't rotate your wrists through impact.

Weight Shift

As you make your backswing, your weight shifts toward your back leg. On the transition to the downswing, your weight shifts back toward center and eventually to your forward foot on your follow-through. If you don't make that weight shift from your back foot to your forward foot, your "center" will be too far behind the ball. This results in reaching for the ball and making contact with an open clubface.

About the Author

Bill Herrfeldt specializes in finance, sports and the needs of retiring people, and has been published in the national edition of "Erickson Tribune," the "Washington Post" and the "Arizona Republic." He graduated from the University of Louisville.