Golf's common cold, the slice, has been the bane of most average golfers' struggle with this great game.
The remedies for this sickness are many and varied. Usually, the cure for this disease does more harm than good and the solution, once understood, is a lot easier than most golfers realize.
The cause of a slice is not the result of cutting across the ball as commonly thought. The root cause of all slices is an open clubface at impact.
An open clubface makes the ball go to the right. Cutting across the line is a last ditch effort to start the ball to the left to compensate for the impending slice. Fix the open clubface problem and you won't have to come over the top. If you cut across the ball with a square clubface, you'll pull the ball severely to the left. Once you lose the fear of losing it to the right, you can now work on the correct path. It's clubface first, path second. Always.
How do you fix the open clubface problem? Let's go to work.
First of all, check your hand placement on the club, especially your left hand. Let your left arm hang naturally at your side and notice how your hand faces inward toward your left thigh. Without changing that position, bring it to the club's handle and close your fingers around the grip. Your left thumb should sit to the right center of the handle. Put your hand on the club the way the good Lord put it on your body.
The right hand goes on in a "shake hands" position, right thumb slightly to the left side of the handle. We want a firm hold, not a tight grip. Holding the club lightly will allow the arms the freedom needed to swing the club in such a way as to permit the toe of the club to rotate properly through impact and beyond.
A good way to develop this rotation is to make baseball type swings at waist high level to the ground. Notice how naturally the arms rotate to the right on the back swing, and how they rotate counter clockwise to the left on the through swing. This is due to the club's design (all clubs are toe heavy), which allows this rotation to happen if you keep the arms relaxed. The club will turn over of its' own free will and square the club up every time. This action is commonly referred to as the release.
Remember, you can't release anything if you have a death grip on it. Once you can feel and become aware of this natural occurrence (the release) you can start to apply this concept to hitting easy chip and pitch shots. If done correctly, the ball will go straight or curve somewhat to the left.
As you achieve some good results at this level, try a slightly larger swing with maybe a 7 iron. Gradually work up to longer clubs, feeling the release each and every time. With steady practice, you should eliminate your slice and say hello to a draw.
We ain't cookin' until we're hookin.'
Yours for better golf,
Del Starks is a PGA teaching professional at Abacoa Golf Club in Jupiter. Contact him at (561) 262-0708, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.delstarks.com.