Why Do So Many Golfers Slice? by Matthew M. Rosman

A slice is defined as a pattern of flight in which for the right handed golfer the ball moves in an arc of motion from left to right (opposite for the left hand golfer). The side-spin produced by this shot causes an extreme loss of distance and for some, such a pronounced curveball of motion as to frustrate and make lowered scores impossible. Eighty to 85 percent of all golfers have a ball flight pattern that ranges from a mild fade (mini-slice) to a dreaded banana ball (severe slice).

The irony is that most of the great champions of the sport used a controlled fade as their "go to" tee shot to hit fairways and win tournaments. For these professionals, their fade created accuracy with a minimal loss of distance. Many of these champions' use of this shot came as a result of converting from their natural shot pattern of hooking; the exact opposite ball flight pattern of a slice.

The problem for the average golfer is that the fade is a controlled shot and the slice is not. The fade is an intentional shot and the slice is unintentional as the golfer cannot stop the slice action. Here are some major reasons why so many golfers slice: grip position, excessive grip pressure, posture and flexibility imbalances, improper timing and sequencing of the change of direction from backswing to downswing, weak rotator cuff muscles, excessively tight muscle groups, trying to use too much power from the upper body and arms, trying to hit the ball straight by swinging the club head in a linear fashion, trying to use the golf club like a baseball bat to "hit" the ball, and using too much effort. This is just the short list as the reasons for slicing are vast.

If there are so many causes for slicing how can golfers go about trying to resolve the problem? The first and most important step is to get help from a qualified professional. Video analysis and objective data help to create a step by step plan of resolution.

The next step is to have your clubs evaluated. Improperly fit clubs cause all kinds of shot patterns including slicing. Poor lie angles, improper shaft flex, and grips that are too thick can create release problems that produce slices. My clients are always evaluated to disclose specific causes for their swing maladies and every one of my clients receives an inspection of their equipment by me at their first lesson.

Set-up is another key area. If the aim and alignment is left of the intended target the golfer will swing with an out to in swing path causing a slice. Tee height must be set to the correct height of the driver or wood used. In general, half of the ball should be visible just over the top edge of the club for most wood tee shots. The slice golfer often tees the ball too low. Not allowing the club to move in an arc of motion through impact by trying to move the club head in a straight line during impact actually induces a slice as the face of the club is prevented from rotating like a door on a hinge through impact. This action is another major cause of a slice.

It is so important to understand and practice the correct motions in the swing to allow the natural design characteristics of the golf club to work undisturbed by trying to hit the ball. In fact, the more effortless the swing, the more the club actually works for the golfer. The club head wants to rotate around the shaft and will do so as long as the grip placement is correct and the grip pressure is not excessive.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, golf is a sideways action meaning that the golfer stands not facing the direction or target of flight. A right handed golfer's dominant right side is further away from the target than the left side. The urge to hit and apply force into the ball creates the imbalance that activates disproportionately the trailing or right side as the feeling of "pushing" overtakes the subtle feeling of "pulling" that the lead or left side wants to perform. This pushing action is most active at the worst possible time in the swing: during the transition from backswing to downswing. Once the right shoulder moves out instead of down during this transition the probability of a slice is almost assured.

Therefore, rhythm, sequencing, and balance are areas of focus for golfers. Learning how to use the golf club correctly, how to harness power, and how to release power is vital if a slice is to be averted. Identifying and understanding the specific factors for each golfer's slice is imperative. Golfers need to understand that learning the motions and feel for the correct swing is a task that should not be undertaken without working with a qualified teaching professional. With a little insight, proper plan of action, and some practice time, slicing can be reduced and eventually eliminated. The key is to "specify" rather than "generalize" or assume that all causes of slicing are the same for all golfers.

To schedule a golf lesson or for more information, please contact Matthew Rosman Play Golf, The Training Zone, 1937 Jericho Turnpike, East Northport, NY 11731, (631) 462-5566.