Slice, slice, go away! (Part 1)
By Erika Larkin on 5/23/12
Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virigina. She was recently named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine and she's oobgolf's newest columnist. She'll be writing on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, email her at Enjoy!

What is a slice?

A slice is when a golfer hits a shot that curves dramatically to the right (for right handed players).

So what causes a slice?

Typically a slice occurs when the clubface is open at impact. The more the ball curves right, typically the golfer aims left to compensate and before you know it, there is 50 yards of sideways movement with a high trajectory and the golfer wonders why they are losing distance.

I will argue that to find a neutral swing, you sometimes have to feel the opposite of your norm. I challenge you slicers out there to head to the driving range and try the following:
  • Check your position. Make sure your golf ball is lined up off your front foot and that your shoulders are square and not pointing left or right at address.

  • Don’t squeeze the ink out of the grip. Relax your grip pressure. Your swing will feel better and you will be able to rotate the clubface back to square more easily.

  • Flip your hands over. If you’ve been slicing, to get the clubface back to square the moment of impact it’s going to FEEL like you are flipping your hands over (right over left). Remember, feel is not real, if you really flip your hands too much the ball will turn left- so keep exaggerating this until you see a change. Relaxed grip pressure and extension of the lead arm/elbows after impact is essential to promote proper rotation of the hands, wrists and forearms, so reach your arms out to the target in the follow through.
If you can work hard on correcting your slice this week, I have got more tips on correcting your path next time!

Image via Flickr, mhofstrand

[ comments ]
Bryan K says:
I have a natural fade that I am okay with. It gives me control over my shots. And I can draw it if I have to, though I prefer not to because repeated use of the draw does mess with my swing mechanics. My most common swing flaw with my driver is the development of a duck hook, which happens when I start getting lax on how I allign my shoulders at address and through impact. That said, I do develop a slice occasionally, and I have a five point checklist that I go through to correct it when it happens.
Bryan K says:
1) Does my front shoulder cover the ball through impact? If my shoulders are open at impact, the results will be a high push-slice. This is my most common error. Solving this usually fixes my slice.

2) Check my grip. If my grip becomes too weak (rotated to the left at the top of the club), a high push-slice will result.

3) Elbows tucked in? If they aren't (Some people call this the chicken-wing syndrome), the swing path goes outside-in. The result is a slice.

4) Follow through? Sometimes, I get lazy with my follow through. It comes too far inside. It's almost as if I'm standing up through impact, and this also promotes an outside-in swing path. The result is a slice.

5) If all of the above fail, I'll start to toy with moving the ball back and forth through my stance.
SteveMM says:
Welcome to oobgolf, Erika! Slicing is a problem that I have battled with, and I would imagine it's the most common swing problem. Most recently it was due to getting lazy with turning my body and gripping the club too tightly.
GBogey says:
Slicing is currently not my biggest issue. But for those occasions when I want to avoid a slice, such as a hazard on the right, it is fatal to try to hit the ball left. Trying to hit left causes me to cut across the ball then the slice I was trying to avoid happens.
Banker85 says:
I like to call it a "Power Fade"
joe jones says:
A big slice (power fade) is nothing but a big hook (slight draw) in reverse. Learning to control either is the goal. When I was young and long my target was over the houses or trees on the left of the fairway. The ball would go out about 250, make a right hand turn and come down in the middle of the fairway at the 275 marker. I used to get very disgusted looks from guys that hit perfect shots that didn't reach mine. The secret was I could repeat that dumb swing every time and I thought it was beautiful.Think Bruce Litzke. I don,t think either shot is more correct than the other as long as it repeats. Lee Trevino said you can talk to a fade but a hook won't listen. I will admit I would like to hit a draw now. The extra yardage would be useful at my age. Oh well!!!
Jbeck says:
I wish I could hit a fade or slice, I have to get rid of the hooks. a Hook is like a 2 yr old, they don't listen.
Bryan K says:
Joe: The problem with hitting a draw is that you may gain distance, but you lose control. I've actually found myself trying to hit fades lately in order to keep my drives in the fairway.
joe jones says:
Bryan K. I have learned to control the fade so I can eliminate one side of the fairway. If I could do the same with the hook it would gain me much needed distance. At my age I can't dedicate the time on the practice range to accomplish the control so I go with what I have.
Erika Larkin says:
Fades ARE playable... as are draws try to neutralize any dramatic ball flight or aim otherwise you will end up in trouble!
Tim Horan says:
Dedicate some time first to reading and understanding what causes a slice or a hook. Then dedicate a couple of hours to finding out how much you can slice or hook for yourself. Exagerate the moves that cause either the slice or hook see how far you can push it! Then simply reverse the process working it back centre and even beyond the straight ball. It takes time but above all else it takes understanding.
joe jones says:
Tim. At my age it's mostly not enough energy to practice a hook. I am fortunate to have a fine practice area within 6 blocks of my house and my own cart. I practice 3 times a week for about an hour each time. Chipping, sand shots and putting are more important to me than trying to learn a new ball flight.Weather is also a big problem at this time of the year in Phoenix. 85 degrees at 8 a m. By 9 it's already approaching 90. When I play we start at 6:15 and are the dawn patrol. Finished by 10 am.
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