Ever heard the story of the older couple at the breakfast table? Wife, with a piece of toast in hand, “Another slice, dear?” Husband, jumping up in the air from his place behind the newspaper, shouting, “Never use the word ‘slice’ to a golfer!”
Scores of golf articles, magazines and books have all promised that elusive tip to get rid of a golfer’s slice. So, how can another such article be any better or different? This one will explain exactly what the slice is, what causes your slice and which drills can help you get a feel for a slice-free movement. The sequel to this piece will then give you just one cure, no matter which of the very many causes produce your particular slice.
Why do most golfers of the world slice the ball anyway? The answer is simple, really. The design of the human body, along with the placement of the golf ball - on the ground and in front of the body - create the ideal situation for a slice.
What is a slice?
What exactly is a slice - besides being a fade gone wild? It is a shot which makes the ball curve to the right (for a right handed golfer). That happens when the club’s face moves sideways across the ball and towards the golfer’s body. In other words, the club moves out-to-in with a face which is opening. With the golfer’s weight remaining on the right leg at impact, and the golfer’s right shoulder and thigh spinning forward and down towards the ground. This movement is often termed an ‘over-the-top’ downswing.
Where should the club be at impact to avoid a slice?
Unfortunately the body is designed to rotate around the spine, but the only action of the body, arms and clubshaft which can produce straight-line motion is a straight line! You would not expect to pot a pool ball if the cue does not move in a straight line back and past the ball. Why then should your golf ball go straight, when the arms and body are chopping the club across the ball, much like a table-tennis/ping-pong bat does when it is made to produce side-spin? The club, should actually be moving on a very slightly in-to-out path as it arrives at, and passes, the ball.
Where should the body be in the impact area?
To facilitate correct club movement during impact, the right shoulder, arm and waist must all be behind and below the left shoulder, arm and waist at impact (so that the shoulders can be parallel to the club’s path). And the body weight should be in the middle of the two feet.
Why do you slice?
A slice, or for that matter, any mis-hit in golf, takes place because the upper right side of the body - arms and shoulder - shove the club in a straight line towards the ground. Why does this happen? There are certain top-of-backswing positions from which the human brain finds it much simpler to just shove the right side down towards the ball, rather than let the arms and club drop down with gravity. It simply finds the ‘path of least resistance’, rather than reroute the arms and shaft, which requires a complex series of movements.
You will be able to identify which of these most common slice-producing top-of-backswing positions you get into:
- The right side of the body, from waist to shoulder, being higher than the left during any part of the backswing
- The right fore-arm being nearer the target line than the right upper-arm (chicken wing)
- The arms being ‘narrow’, as a result of early wrist cock or elbow fold
- The arms wrapping around or flopping behind the body, usually with a bending or twisting of forearms and wrists
When the upper body and the arms move into mis-matched positions relative to one another, an over-the-top downswing is difficult to avoid.
Why are these top-of-backswing positions ‘awkward’? Feel why. Extend your left arm out in front of you. Now make a backswing with the right arm, and slap the left hand with the right.
Wouldn’t this move become more complex if the entire right side of the body has been raised. Or the right elbow is bent backwards. Or the arms are either stuck close to the body or fully wrapped around it!
The golf swing should deliver the club to the ball as simply as one hand is delivered to the other with a simple slap.
No solution works?
You’ve tried every suggestion. Your caddie tells you not to let your head get up off the ball. The new club pro’s told you to avoid blocking the shot by rolling your arms past impact. Your single-handicap friend says you should hit with your right, not left, hand, and another pal wants you not to get out of posture in the downswing.
All these suggestions unfortunately, address the effect, not the cause. Always look for the cause of any mis-hit in your backswing.
The ultimate solution
What if the arms and body could be in perfect synchronization all through the backswing? The upper body silent; the arms not entangled in the body and in a position at the top from which it is practically impossible to commence the downswing incorrectly? The Minimalist Golf Swing is your ultimate cure.