The physics of a slice is uncomplicated. It happens because your club strikes the ball with the face pointing open in relation to the swing’s path. For right-handers, that means the clubface is pointing right of the path at impact – that’s it. What’s not so simple is the psychology behind why so many golfers struggle to prevent the ball from peeling off to the right of the target.
I’ll skip my Freudian analysis of why you slice. Instead, here’s an unconventional, yet simple fix. It, too, is rooted in psychology.
The next time you address the ball, I want you to stand so your body is aligned noticeably left of the target like I am here (if you’re a lefty, aim right). This is known as an open stance. I know, I know. It’s the same term I used for the clubface’s position when you slice the ball. But now open means aligned left, not right. Don’t be confused by that. Just focus on setting up left of your target.
So how does this fix a slice? I bet you’re thinking this would exacerbate the problem, because it’s easier to hit the ball with an open face from this position. That might be true to a point, but here comes the psychology: You might be surprised to discover that as you reach the top of the backswing, it encourages you to swing down more to the right of the target. In other words: aim left, swing right. It’s a game of opposites. And if you can get the club moving in that direction, the better your chance the clubface will be pointing left (closed) of the swing’s path at impact. When that happens, the ball will curve in the opposite direction of the slice – a draw! Even if you don’t quite swing in-to-out with the face closed, any reduction in the amount the face is open in relation to the path will straighten your slice, possibly turning it into a fade – also a desirable shot shape.
You’ll hit it farther and straighter – all because you made one adjustment that gave you the feeling you had plenty of room to swing in-to-out.
Another Great Set Up Hack
Why do you miss putts from short distances? It often comes from too much body movement during the stroke. This usually alters the orientation of the putterface at impact, sending the ball off line. The shoulders and arms have to move to swing the putter, but everything else should be as motionless as possible. Here are a couple of great ways to stay still when you hit these makable putts.
The first is to stare down at the ground under the ball like you have X-ray vision. When you hit the putt and the ball starts rolling towards the hole, you should still be staring at that spot on the ground. This first tip is great if you have a bad habit of looking up too soon to see if the ball’s rolling into the cup.
The second one quiets the lower body. When you set up over the ball, feel like you have a beach ball between your knees. Sense the pressure on the outside of your feet. Lock your legs in this position, and then just rock your upper torso back and through.
—with Ron Kaspriske
David Leadbetter, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, runs 32 academies worldwide.