In the quest to improve our swing and game, this week we'll talk about the slice, since it's the number one fault in golf.
You have to ask yourself, why is that? The answer is simple, but the cure can be very difficult.
Last week we talked about the importance of setup and aim, the imaginary train tracks that form your target line and body alignment.
For righties, if your upper body and/or your lower body is open (pointing left of the target) to your target line, you're more likely to swing the club from outside the target line and across it or from out to in. This puts a clockwise spin on the ball, which causes the ball to slice. That's one reason so many golfers slice the ball.
Anyone that slices the ball and also pulls the ball on occasion should know that both swings are the same. I know that sounds crazy, since the ball ends up going in totally different directions.
The only difference is whether the face of the club is open at impact or closed. If the face is open, that will cause a slice and if it's closed, a pull.
If your aim and setup is correct, which means you are square with your target line at address and you still slice or pull the ball, then you're more than likely swinging over the top.
The true meaning of swinging over the top, from a righty's perspective, is when your right shoulder moves closer to the target line on the down swing, than it was in the address position. This means your right shoulder turns outward in a counter clockwise motion on the downswing as opposed to allowing the club to swing down and under your head while your right shoulder remains square with the target line at impact.
If you initiate the downswing with your upper body, you are more likely to swing over the top. Once the club gets on an outside path, much can go wrong. Depending on your instinctive manipulations will determine whether you'll pull the shot or slice it. If you hold back and grab onto the club, it will arrive late with an open face. If you sense that you have to get the club through the ball, you will generally flip the wrists and pull the shot.
Let's see if we get you moving in the right direction. A good golf swing is one continuous motion, which means there's no stopping when changing directions from backswing to downswing.
In a nutshell, the upper body needs to initiate and lead the back swing. This causes torsion to build in the lower body. As the club reaches the top of the swing, the lower body needs to initiate and lead the downswing. Switching between the two is a key element. The fact is, your club should still be going back fractionally, while the lower body initiates the downswing. However, you still need to finish the backswing. The more smooth you can make that transition between backswing and downswing, the better you'll swing. One way is to try to maintain the pace or tempo of the backswing as you change direction, as opposed to abruptly changing directions. Stay tuned for next week's tidbits and tips.
Sal Martignetti is an independent golf coach and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (603) 986-3376. His free e-book is available at elusivegolfswing.weebly.com.