What Causes a Golf Slice? 5 Common Reasons

By Bill Herrfeldt

Rory McIlroy grimaces after shot

A slice is one of the most frustrating flaws of a golf swing. An over-exaggeration of a push, slicing the ball can be detrimental to a round of golf because it inhibits a player's ability to keep the ball in play. Knowing what causes a slice in golf can be helpful in overcoming these shots. Here are five common reasons a slice occurs.

What is a Slice?

A slice, for a right-handed player, is a shot where the golf ball trails hard to the right side. For a left-handed player, the shot moves hard to the left. A slice should never be confused with a fade, which has a similar flight pattern, much is controlled and much less severe.

What Causes a Golf Slice?

Your setup, posture, grip, and swing can all lead to a slice if you're not careful. Let's take a look at five common reasons a slice occurs. Hopefully simply understanding the cause of a slice will help you understand how to fix a slice.

1. Setup & Ball Position

Your set-up has 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 of those are open to your target line, then you are set up for a slice-friendly outside-in swing path.

For example, if your lead foot is too far back you have an open stance that doesn't allow your shoulders to make a complete rotation. During the downswing, your hands drop in towards your body. This outside-in path 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 deliver the clubface open at impact, which causes a slice. Try moving the ball back to about the middle of your stance.

2. Weak Grip, Death Grip

Many golfers' problems with a slice begin with the way they hold the golf club.

You might have a so-called "weak grip," which means your thumbs are more at the top of the club. When you swing with this type of grip, your hands resist their natural tendency to return the clubface square at impact, and instead, they leave the clubface open which causes a slice.

Instead, try to rotate your hands slightly so you can see the top three knuckles on your non-dominant hand, then you will be more likely to rotate your wrists at the bottom of the swing and square the clubface.

You might also grip the club too tightly, which similarly restricts your wrist and hands' natural tendency to return the club square at impact, causing a slice.

3. Head Ahead of the Ball

If your head moves ahead of the ball in the direction of the target anytime during your swing, you are likely leave the club face open at impact and slice the golf ball. 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.

4. 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 right and result in a slice.

Decelerating through impact slows down the clubface into impact. This results in an open clubface because your hands are already leading the clubhead; when you decelerate, you don't rotate your wrists through impact.

5. Weight Shift

As you make your backswing, your weight shifts mostly to your back leg. On the transition to the downswing, your weight shifts back toward the center then 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.

Conclusion

As you can see, the biggest factors that contribute to a slice are an open club face or an over-the-top swing path. Using the tips in this article, you can recognize where your fault may lie and what you can do to get back on the straight and narrow when it comes to ball flight.

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.