Most golfers that slice that would give anything to eliminate this swing flaw. That’s because they know first hand how crippling it is to their games and their golf handicaps. Slicers often find themselves in trouble right off the tee. And that, we tell students in golf lessons, is no way to start a hole. Unfortunately, many slicers don’t know why they slice or how to stop doing it.
One player performance center in the United States recently did some research on this swing flaw. The research sheds some light on this frustrating problem. The center compared the swings of over 180,000 amateurs and 150 tour players in a study designed to find out why the amateurs slice and the pros don’t. Here’s the gist of what they study says:
Starting Down Incorrectly
Starting down incorrectly is the key reason golfers slice. The root cause of this mistake is in the golfer’s transition from the top. A pro’s transition is not only smooth and under control, it also produces a solid straight hit. The slicer’s transition, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as smooth or as under control as the pro’s. It leads to anything but a solid straight hit. Making a good transition is a must if you want to stop slicing.
Here’s why: The pro’s first move at the start of the downswing is to tilt his shoulders down toward the ball. The slicer’s first move, as we seen in golf instruction sessions, is to turn his shoulders toward the target, forcing the club to cut across the ball. The pro also completes the majority of his turn earlier than the slicer. Nearly 55 percent of a pro’s turn is done by the time the club reaches parallel to the ground as compared to the slicer’s 30 percent.
Many instructors when giving golf lessons to correct a slice focus on how a student makes the transition than how he got to the top. That would seem to make sense. But the study shows that it’s more important to focus on how the slicer got to the top than what he looks like when he gets there. A slicer can look great at the top, but if he starts off badly he’s forced to speed up his body turn to match his arms. Being out of sequence, the slicer is less apt to tilt his shoulders downward during the transition.
Refining The Takeaway
One way for a slicer to correct a slice, then, is to change how he starts his backswing. A slicer often starts his takeaway by lifting and rotating the club away from the ball using his hands and arms. The pro’s uses his shoulders and upper body to drive the takeaway—a better approach. A checkpoint we use in our golf lessons to help a slicer start his takeaway correctly is to have him key on his shirt’s buttons. They should point past your back foot by the time the club is parallel to the ground.
Lack of flexibility, the study shows, also helps cause a slice. Both the pro and the weekend golfer turn their shoulders the same amount during the backswing—about 80 degrees. And both tilt their shoulders downward at about the same angle—about 35 degrees—once the slicer corrects his shoulder turn. But because the slicer completes his shoulder turn later in the backswing, he struggles with making a good transition. The difference is the pro’s superior flexibility.
Slicers can increase flexibility through exercises. Yoga also works. But it takes time for a slicer to improve his flexibility. One thing a slicer can do right now to make up for a lack of flexibility, the study indicates, is to change the position of his back foot. Instead of standing with a square back foot at address, flare it foot. A square back foot restricts one’s turn. Flaring it out lets a slicer turn back earlier and fuller—exactly what the doctor ordered.
Incorporating the golf tips discussed above in one’s swing will go a long ways toward helping a golfer hit straighter, longer shots. This in turn will help him chop strokes off his golf handicap and boost his game to the next level.