What Causes a Golf Slice? | How to Fix a Slice

By Todd Kolb
June 24, 2016

How to Fix a Golf Slice

It is one of the most common swing mistakes. There is a lot of incorrect information out there suggesting how to fix a slice.

A slice describes what happens when the flight of the golf ball curves from left to right (for the right-handed golfer—the opposite for lefties). Many golfers have looked on with disappointment, and sometimes abject horror, as their golf ball curves in the characteristic path of a slice.

Golf magazines or video tutorials online frequently offer three outdated suggestions: strengthen the grip, rotate the forearms (or hands), or slightly close the club face.

Unfortunately, none of these suggestions are a panacea for a fade. They don’t provide long-term solutions.

What is a Golf Slice?

A slice describes what happens when the flight of the golf ball curves from left to right (for the right-handed golfer—the opposite for lefties). Many golfers have looked on with disappointment, and sometimes abject horror, as their golf ball curves in the characteristic path of a slice. But how does one avoid such a ball flight?

There is one key relationship that dictates any curve in the golf ball—assuming the golfer is hitting the ball in the center of the club face—and that is the relationship between the path (the direction the club is swinging at the moment of impact) and the club face.

Someone who is slicing will often aim their shot (or set up their path) slightly to the left of the target. They will combine that slightly-left path with a square or open club face. The relationship between an outside-in swing path and an open face creates a slice. The greater the contrast, the more the ball will curve.

To hit a nice, high draw, the right-handed golfer needs to align their path slightly to the right. The golfers who are capable of consistently hitting a high draw have a path swinging anywhere from 2-5 degrees to the right. They combine that path with a club face that is slightly open to the target line (1 or 2 degrees open to the right).

This position of the face and the direction of the path will create a high draw. Just like a sliced shot, the greater the separation of the rightward club path and the club face, the more the ball will draw.

The Difference Between a Slice and a Hook

The way to identify a hook from a slice is by watching which way the ball flies. Remember the one key relationship that creates curvature in a golf ball is the relationship between the club path and the club face. When the swing path is outside-in and there is an open clubface at impact, the ball will curve to the right causing a slice shot (for a right-handed golfer). The greater the difference between the swing path and the club face, the more the ball will curve right.

There are many different ways the ball will curve in the air to create a sliced shot. The ball can start left of target and curve right back to the target. The ball could start at the target and curve right away from the target or the ball could start right of the target and curve further right of the target. 

A hook occurs when the club path is inside out and the club face is closed to that path. The rightward path and closed club face causes the ball to curve to the left and therefore creates a hook. Again, the larger the separation of the path and club face the more hook you will create. A ball that hooks a lot is often called a snap hook. A pull hook occurs when the ball starts left of target and continues to curve left away from the target.

The difference between slice and a hook is the direction the ball curves. For a right-handed golfer a slice curves to the right and a hook curves to the left. There are many things that occur in the golf swing that can cause the ball to curve, but the best way to identify these issues is to first properly diagnose the flight of your golf ball.

The Benefits of Hitting a Draw

The next big question people ask often is “why should a player avoid a slice?” The answer to this question is twofold. First off, most players want to gain distance off the tee or hit the ball further. A quick way to gain distance is to hit a draw instead of a slice. A ball hit with draw spin will roll further and give the player more distance. 

The second reason why avoiding a slice is a good idea has to do with swing mechanics. The way a player swings to produce a slice is not considered the ideal way to swing a golf club. If you watch the best players of the game of golf, most of them hit the ball with an inside out or neutral path and a relatively shallow attack angle. 

A player who hits a slice tends to swing out to in with a steep angle of attack. Working on hitting a draw is a great way to create more distance and work on your swing mechanics at the same time. 

How Should I Grip the Club?

As stated earlier in this article, a strong grip is not necessarily the end-all cure all to a sliced golf shot.  In fact, many times a strong grip only masks the true problem for most amateur golfers.

So if a strong grip is not the answer, how should you grip the golf club? When you get set to hit a shot, a proper grip with the left hand will allow you to see two knuckles not including your thumb. Make sure the pad of your left palm is completely on the handle of the club.

Once you can see just two knuckles and the pad of your left palm is completely on the handle, the right hand will either overlap or interlock with the left hand and fold over the left thumb. 

A strong grip will show more than two of the knuckles on your left hand and the right hand will not be folded over the top of the grip but rather be tucked under the grip. A strong grip will not be a permanent fix to your slice.

Using Technology

Technology can help a golfer diagnose the specific issue causing their slice shot. In other words, Technology can show a golfer to what degree they are setting up a path too far to the left and where the club face falls in relation to that. Remember, to hit a nice high draw, the club path should be anywhere from 2-5 degrees to the right and the face 1-2 degrees open to the target.

It is difficult to diagnose what specifically is going wrong in the individual golf swing without the help of a golf instructor or a tool (like FlightScope). However, below I offer some key exercises that can help any golfer improve their swing and cut down on slice shots.

Understanding Your Driver Slice

There are a few differences within a driver slice and an iron slice, which is why you might only slice your driver. The main difference is the attack angle in which we hit the ball with our driver. The ideal scenario with an iron is an attack angle that is negative. In other words, we hit down into the golf ball when using an iron. This, however, is not the best way to hit a driver.

An easy way to create this in our golf swings is with our ball position. When an iron is being hit, the ball should be positioned in the middle of the stance. This ball position will allow the club to hit the ball before the bottom of the downswing. With the driver, the ball should be positioned forward towards the lead foot. Moving the ball forward allows the driver to reach the bottom of the downswing’s arc and start working upward towards the ball creating a positive attack angle. 

When hitting a driver, we hit the ball with a positive attack angle. We hit up into the ball to create a higher launch angle since the driver has such a low loft. This positive attack angle does one important thing to our club path. A positive attack angle creates a more leftward path, which we know if the face is open with a leftward path the ball will slice. 

To avoid this issue, we need to swing the driver more inside out than our irons. If we do not do this, a player can hit a draw with their irons and hit a fade with their driver all due to the different attack angles. 

It is also important to understand since the driver is a much lower loft than any iron, the ball will curve more. The lower the loft of the golf club, the more important it is to match your path and your club face. If a player is hitting a slice with their irons, the slice will be greater with the driver.

tour draw

Keys to Fixing Your Slice

If you are a golfer who often hits slice shots, you have likely come across all kinds of so-called miraculous, immediate fixes that promise results. All kinds of tips, tricks, and strategies are out there. It’s confusing to muddle through all of them to find the solution that will best suit you and your golf swing.

Often, golfers think they have to go through a major swing overhaul, but that is not always true. The key to hitting consistent high draws is not a mystery. There are many things that good golfers do to create a consistent high draw ball flight.

The main thing good players do in their swing to create this high draw is swing out and to the right with a slightly open clubface at impact. The open club face creates the higher ball flight while the rightward swinging club creates the curve on the golf ball. There are some easy tricks to get a golfer swinging the club more to the right.

Below, I offer three exercises that can help any golfer improve their swing. Keep in mind that a nice high draw is the result of a path angled slightly to the right, and a club face that is slightly open. There are three small tweaks you can apply to your stance and swing that can help you start putting the ball right where you’d like it to go.

“There is one key relationship that dictates any curve in the golf ball—assuming the golfer is hitting the ball in the center of the club face—and that is the relationship between the path (the direction the club is swinging at the moment of impact) and the club face.

– Todd Kolb

1. Left Arm High, Right Arm Low

One suggestion is something I call “left arm high, right arm low.” When you set up to hit your golf ball, make sure your lead arm—the left arm for a right-handed golfer—is slightly higher than your right arm.

When your left arm is slightly higher, it will cause you to swing the club up and to the right, and the ball will turn over. This creates a nice, natural draw.

2. Left Hip Left

Another exercise to try out is what I call Left Hip Left. This asks you to adjust your setup to change the ball flight. This suggestion builds on Left Arm High, Right Arm Low. When you go into your regular setup, take your lead hip —which is going to be the left hip for the right-handed golfer—and bump it over your lead foot.

Believe it or not, that simple adjustment will help you draw the golf ball. Bumping the hip slightly over allows me to swing the club to the right.  This is often a challenge for golfers who hit slice shots.

3. High Handle

The last tip I have to help on how to fix a slice shot involves your setup again.

It is something I call “high handle,” and it has two parts. After practicing “left arm high, right arm low” and “left hip left,” add in this next tweak. Raise the handle slightly and also slightly forward. The second part of this “high handle” exercise is to keep the high handle on the finish.

By this I mean that when you finish your golf swing, the handle should be nice and high. The video below explains this more in-depth.

Review

Hopefully this helped you understand a little bit more about what causes a slice and how to fix it. Remember that a slice is the result of the relationship between the swing path and the club face angle. If the swing path is working left of the target and the clubface is open to that path, the ball is going to slice.

Fixing a slice is more than just strengthening the grip or rotating your forearms through the swing. Changing the grip does not affect the position of the club through the swing or the swing path. 

The difference between a slice and a hook is the direction in which the ball curves. A hook will curve to the left while a slice will curve to the right. Properly identifying the way the golf ball flies is a great way to figure out what is going on in the golf swing. The ball flight never lies.

A draw has a tendency to travel further than a slice. If you are looking for extra distance in your golf game, it may be as simple as hitting a draw versus hitting a slice. A ball hit with hook spin will penetrate wind better and roll out further. A slice will balloon into the wind and not roll out.

The Keys to Remember

Remember that a slice may occur with the driver even when a player’s irons are drawing. The positive attack angle of the driver will shift the swing path more outside-in. Swinging the driver more to the right will help counter the change from the attack angle.

The keys to fixing your slice are in the setup. The further a player aims left, the more the ball will slice. To start hitting high draws, the golfer needs to set up a little closed to the target line to create a rightward swinging club path. 

If you are slicing the ball, practicing the three tips above— “Left hand high, right hand low,” “left hip left,” and “high handle” will help you create a rightward path in your golf swing. Remember, if the face of the club is slightly open to the target and your path is working inside out, the ball will naturally draw towards the target.

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