It’s one of the most frustrating shots in all of golf – the slice. For those of you who have struggled with this common swing fault, I feel for you…
For years, I struggled with a slice off the tee.
It seemed like no matter what I did or how confident I felt standing over the golf ball, the end result would be the same – a ball flight that starts out straight then immediately veers to the right.
At one point I even had to start aiming down the treeline on the left side just to keep my ball in play!
Thankfully, after many years of trial and error, I cured my slice and straightened out my drives.
In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of the slice I found along the way.
I’ll also provide some actionable advice you can use to stop slicing the golf ball.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- What is a Slice in Golf?
- Consequences of Hitting a Slice
- What Causes a Slice? 9 Common Causes and How to Fix Your Slice
- Slice in Golf FAQ
- The Takeaway – What Causes a Slice and How to Stop Slicing The Golf Ball?
What is a Slice in Golf?
A slice is a type of shot in golf where the ball starts on a straight line and then immediately veers off to one side. For a right-handed golfer, a slice travels from left-to-right. For a left-handed golfer, the shape is right-to-left.
For the remainder of this article, I’ll refer to directions based on what a right-handed player would see as the majority of golfers shoot right. If you happen to be a lefty, just flip the directions.
There are a number of causes of a slice (more on that later), however, the most common culprit is an over-the-top swing path.
This swing path puts extra side-spin on the ball, causing it to veer off to one side.
You’ll often hear a slice given different names like, “push slice” or “pull slice.” These names refer to the line that the golf ball starts on before it begins to cut hard to the right.
For a righty, a push slice starts on the right side of the target line before traveling further to the right. In this case, a double negative does not make a positive.
A push slice will likely result in a lost ball or an unfavorable lie on your next shot.
As you probably guessed, a pull-slice begins left of your target line before coming back to the right. Unlike a push-slice, you can usually get away with a pull-slice. In fact, I know many low-handicappers who make it work.
However, the only downside is that the right-left curve will mean you’re sacrificing more distance compared to if it were just a straight shot.
Consequences of Hitting a Slice
There are many consequences that can arise if you hit this type of shot.
You’ll Lose Distance – a slice will often provide much less distance compared to a straight shot. If you think about this, it makes sense. Because the ball is traveling in a curved line, it will not go as far as a ball that travels in a straight line, assuming all else is equal.
The picture below helps you get a better idea of why this is:
You’ll Be Less Accurate – the reason a ball begins to slice is that it has too much sidespin. If it’s spinning sideways as it comes off the tee, the air will catch the dimples on the ball and cause it to drift off to the right.
A High, Weak Ball Flight – another consequence of putting too much spin on the ball is that sometimes it has a tendency to rise up into the air.
I had the privilege of watching some of the best names in golf at the 2019 US Open at Pebble Beach.
One of the players that stood to me the most (at least off the tee) was Rory McIlroy. It seemed like every drive he hit would shoot off the face like a bullet, displacing the air around it with ease.
I was fascinated with how he was doing this. I found out later that he was able to achieve such a strong ball flight because he only puts a small amount of spin on the ball.
Just think of a pitcher. If he wants to throw a curveball, he really needs to torque on the laces and generate spin. If he wants to throw a straight pitch (a knuckleball) there’s almost no spin on the ball.
You’ll Spend A Boatload of Money on Golfballs – golf is expensive enough as it is without you cracking open a brand new sleeve of Pro V1’s on every tee box. Learn to fix your slice and you’ll save some money too!
What Causes a Slice? 9 Common Causes and How to Fix Your Slice
1. Your Stance is Too Open
An open stance promotes an over-the-top swing path, causing you to cut across the golf ball. If this is the case, only one of two things can happen.
- You shut the clubface and hit a pull.
- You leave the clubface open and hit a slice.
If you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you struggle with the latter.
How to Fix It
Head to the range with a bucket of balls. Set up in your regular stance with your driver, then place one of your irons in line with the toes on both of your feet. Now step back.
The iron you lay down in front of your feet should be running parallel to your target line:
If the iron is not parallel to your target line, but rather, it’s flared to the left, your stance is too open:
To work on squaring up your stance, hit some balls while making sure that the club by your feet is parallel to your target line.
If you don’t want to risk stepping on and breaking one of your irons while doing this drill you can also purchase alignment sticks. They’re generally pretty affordable and you can check their prices on Amazon.
2. Your Clubface is Open At Impact
Even if your swing is perfectly on-plane, having an open clubface at impact can result in a slice.
How To Fix It
To fix an open clubface, there are a few things you need to do:
Make sure it’s not open at address – if your clubface is open before you even begin to swing the club back, you’ve already lost.
However, sometimes from your position over the ball it might look like the clubface is square when it’s not. Ask a friend to take a look and help get you into the proper position.
Don’t “roll your forearms” at the beginning of your backswing – another common cause of an open clubface is when you roll your forearms to start the backswing.
Instead, you should almost feel like your right arm is staying above your left arm until about the halfway-point in your backswing.
Square the face at impact – if I’m struggling with an open clubface, one of the things I’ll do is try to feel like the back of my lead hand is pointing directly at my target at impact. This will help automatically get the clubface into a square position.
3. Weak Grip
A weak grip is another reason why many players hit a slice.
***Important: when I say “weak” I don’t mean weak grip pressure. Instead, I’m referring to how your hands are holding the club. A weak grip is when your right-hand gets too far on top of the club.
A strong grip is when your right hand (for a righty) is more underneath the club.
If you have a weak grip and your right hand is more on the top of your club, it makes it harder to release the club. If you can’t release the club, then it will stay open at the point of impact, resulting in a slice.
How to Fix It
When you grip the club, make sure that the “V” between your thumb and forefinger on both of your hands points towards your right shoulder. This will help get your right hand more underneath the club, allowing for a better release through the ball.
4. An Over-The-Top Swing Path
More often than not, your swing path is what will determine the flight of the golf ball. If you have an over-the-top swing path, this means you’re cutting across the golf ball from the outside to the inside.
This puts unnecessary spin on the ball causing it to slice to the right.
How to Fix It
When you look down at the ball, imagine that it is split into four quadrants:
Then when you’re swinging, imagine you’re making contact with the inside quadrant of the ball (quadrant 3 in the image above). This will help promote an inside-out path on your follow-through, preventing you from cutting across the golf ball.
With a little practice, you might even begin to hit a draw!
In order to help visualize this feeling, I’ll often draw a circle on my ball using a marker. I’ll then shift the ball on the tee so that the circle is in the positioned on the line I want to attack the ball (inside quadrant).
Of course, you won’t know if you were successful in hitting the mark – unless you have access to a super-slow-motion camera. My guess is most people don’t.
So, what should you do to get some concrete feedback for your swing path?
One good drill for this is to lay down a headcover slightly behind your ball and on the outside of your target line:
If you make a swing and hit the headcover, you’ll know you’re swinging over-the-top or on an out-to-in path.
Work on this drill until you consistently avoid hitting the headcover and I guarantee your ball flight will begin to straighten out.
5. Using The Wrong Clubshafts
While nothing trumps good-ol-fashioned pratice, using the proper equipment can also make a big difference in your game.
If you notice that you’re slicing the golf ball, yet you know you’re swinging on the proper path with the right release, you’re clubshafts might be at fault.
Sometimes stiff clubshafts can cause you to slice the ball. This is because a stiff clubshaft won’t load properly by the time the clubhead reaches the ball, causing it to remain slightly open at impact.
How to Fix It
In order to make sure your clubshafts aren’t the root cause of your slice, it’s important to make sure you choose the right clubshafts for your game based on your unique swing.
One of the easiest ways to do so is get a professional clubfitting whenever you buy new clubs.
Most clubfitters will also be more than happy to analaze your swing with your current clubs and recommend changes to your set.
6. Improper Ball Position
Having the ball too far back in your stance can also sometimes cause a slice. That’s because the club will have less time to release before reaching the ball, resulting in a slightly open clubface at impact.
How to Fix It
Try moving the golf ball farther up in your stance (closer to your lead foot). As a general rule of thumb, the ball should be in line with the heel of your lead foot.
This will provide enough time for the club to properly release so it is square at impact.
7. Weight Centered Over The Front Foot
If your weight is centered over your front foot or you shift your weight too far foreward on your downswing, it might result in a slice.
This is because centering your weight over the front foot encourages a downward angle of attack. When you contact the ball with a downward angle of attack, it puts more spin on the golfball. If there’s more spin on the ball, it is more likely to slice.
How to Fix It
Set up in your stance like you’re about to hit a drive. Now, tilt your upper body so that it leans behind the golf ball. This is called the “reverse-k” position.
The reverse-k position will help you stay behind the golfball and make contact on an upward angle, reducing the amount of spin on the ball. If there’s less spin, you’re less likely to hit a slice.
Another way to make sure you stay behind the golf ball and have an upward angle of attack is to imagine your left ear (or right ear for a lefty) stays behind the ball for the entire swing. This will prevent you from shifting too far onto your lead leg.
8. Playing With a High-Spin Golf Ball
Did you know that the type of golf ball you use might be making your slice worse?
If you play a high-spin ball and notice you’re having trouble controlling the flight and trajectory of your drives, it might be time to make the switch to a low-spin ball.
How to Fix It
Consider switching to a low spin ball. I’ve tested out several low-spin balls over the past few months.
However, keep in mind, the only way to eliminate your slice is to fix your swing. Yes, switching golf balls might help reduce the severity of your slice, but it’s not the cure.
9. Rushing The Transition from Backswing to Downswing
Finally, if you have a choppy transition from your backswing to your downswing, your timing will be thrown off and you might slice the golf ball.
How to Fix It
When addressing tempo issues in the golf swing, I’ve found that there are two things that really help.
- Pause at the top – One of the reasons so many people struggle with tempo is that they’re too eager to hit the ball. I get it, you want to hit bombs and smash the ball 300 yards down the fairway.
However, this mindset often causes players to rush their transition. To fix this, consider making a conscious effort to pause at the top of your swing before beginning your downswing.
This will help smooth out your transition and start making more consistent contact.
But fair warning – this will feel very strange at first. A split second pause will feel like two or three seconds! It just takes some getting used to.
Develop a cadence – why do quarterbacks yell out a cadence before the ball is snapped? It’s because of timing. The other players need to know when the ball will be snapped so that they don’t go offside.
Believe it or not, it can actually be helpful to develop your own cadence for your golf swing.
This can be done by choosing a certain word to say (in your head) on your backswing and another for your downswing.
It’s recommended that the speed of your swing follows a 3:1 ratio. Your backswing should take three times as long as your downswing.
For that reason, I would recommend choosing a 3-syllabal word to say in your head for your backswing, and a 1-syllabal word for your downswing.
I like to use the term: “A-maz-ing swing.”
And that’s it! Nine common causes of a slice in golf and how to fix them! Continue reading to see answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the slice.
Slice in Golf FAQ
Why do I slice my driver and not my irons?
Many golfers who struggle with a slice notice that they always slice the ball with their driver but not their irons. There are a few reasons why this might be happening to you.
First of all, as you know the driver is the longest club in the bag. While this is great for distance, the added length makes it more difficult to control. This means you’ll be more likely to hit it off the toe or the heel of the club.
In order to avoid this, try slowing down your swing tempo and focus on contact rather than speed. If you work on hitting the center of the clubface on every drive, your slice will begin to straighten out.
However, that’s only if you have the proper swing path (mentioned above in this article).
Do anti-slice golf tees work?
For those of you who don’t know, anti-slice tees feature a design that “cups” the ball on one side to prevent it from spinning after contact with your driver. But do they really work?
From my experience, it depends on the severity of your slice.
If you struggle with a large slice (30-40 yards left-to-right) anti-slice tees probably won’t do you much good. If you only have a moderate slice (5-15 yard left-to-right), then anti-slice tees might provide some benefit.
Regardless, it’s always better to sort out your golf swing before buying any type of game-improvement equipment.
However, if you want to test out anti-slice tees for yourself, they’re pretty affordable and can be found on Amazon.
What’s the best golf ball for a slice?
While the only way to completely cure your slice is practice, playing the right golf ball can definitely help. The best golf balls for slicers are usually low compression balls with low spin rates.
While it’s nice to have plenty of spin around the greens, if you’re a slicer, this can get you into trouble off the tee.
The key is to pick your sacrifices. For example, if you struggle with a slice you might want to trade a ball with a soft feel around the greens for one that helps reduce spin off the tee.
What’s the difference between a slice and a fade?
Many people are confused about the difference between a slice and a fade. While it’s true that they both curve in the same direction (left-to-right for a righty, vice-versa for a lefty), there’s one major difference – a fade is controlled whereas a slice is not.
The amount of movement on a slice will also be much greater than a fade. For example, a nice, controlled fade might move five or ten yards from left to right, while a slice can move as much as 30 or 40.
Many of the best players in the world will play a fade off the tee. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pro who hits a slice!
Will a stiff shaft help my slice?
If you don’t have enough swing speed, using a stiff shaft might actually make your slice worse. That’s because a stiff shaft will prevent you from properly loading the club, resulting in an open clubface at impact.
That said, if your golf shafts are too soft, this can also cause a slice because you’ll generate too much lag in your swing.
When picking clubshafts, it’s best to take a page from Goldilocks’ book.
Not too stiff, not too flexible – just right. The easiest way to make sure you have the proper shaft flex for your golf clubs is to visit a professional clubfitter.
The Takeaway – What Causes a Slice and How to Stop Slicing The Golf Ball?
So in this post, we covered some of the most common causes of a slice in golf:
- Your stance is too open.
- Your clubface is open at impact.
- Weak grip.
- Over-the-top swing path.
- Using the wrong club shafts.
- Improper ball position.
- Weight centered over the front foot.
- Playing a high-spin golf ball.
- Rushing the transition from backswing to down swing.
Hopefully the tips provided today will get you one step closer to curing your slice!
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