Strengthen Your Left Hand Grip To Stop Slicing
There are many reasons why a golfer may slice a ball, but there is also one constant when a ball slices (curves left-to-right for a righty). That constant is an open clubface at the point of impact. An open clubface is when it’s pointed to the right or more towards the sky. This open clubface can be caused by many things including an incorrect swing path, a poor setup, or a weak grip, amongst others. Today, I’m going to explain how a weak left hand grip can increase the likelihood of a slice.
In order to have a consistent swing, you should have a grip that matches your swing. Unfortunately, for many golfers their grip doesn’t match their swing or their hands are in a position where they are more likely to change the angle of the clubface at impact. The most common error I see is when a golfer grips the club with a weak left (lead arm) hand. In this position, the hand is placed on the side or even under the grip causing quite a few issues such as a loss of power and the greater potential to slice the ball.
If you’re a slicer, it’s imperative to strengthen your left hand grip. Here’s why and a little test to show you. Stand tall with your arms hanging comfortably and softly down your side. You’ll notice your palms are facing your side. Now, lean over until you’re in your golf posture continuing with your arms hanging softly under your shoulders. Notice how your palms are now angled about 45 degrees facing your body. When you lean over, your arms naturally rotate inward.
Why is that important and what does it have to do with your slice? When you lean over and allow your arms to hang softly, this is your arms natural position. This is where your arms want to be. Try this: grip the club with just your left hand. Rotate your palm towards the ground and notice the clubface rotate towards the sky. The more it points this way, the more the ball will slice. The weaker your left hand grip is at the start, the more prone the clubface will be at impact because your left arm will try to go back to it’s natural position.
It is possible to hit great shots with a weak grip, but usually, this is for golfers that tend to over-rotate their arms on their downswing.
How To Grip The Club
I recommend trying to grip the club up in the air in front of your face so you can see what’s going on. When placing your left hand on the grip, try to angle your palm about 45 degrees towards the ground. If done correctly, you should be able to see 3, maybe 4 knuckles on your left hand. Additionally, the ‘V-shape’ caused by your left thumb and forefinger will be pointed towards your right shoulder. After placing your left hand on the grip, put your right hand on with your palms facing each other.
Not only will this stronger grip help eliminate or reduce the amount of slice, it will also allow your wrists to hinge correctly creating more power in your golf swing. It’s a win-win!
The grip is a very sensitive and difficult topic to fully grasp. For help with your own grip, I recommend seeing your local PGA Professional to help you perfect it.
Good luck and thanks for reading!
One-Day Specialty Clinics at Sharon Woods Golf Course
This year, I thought it’d be fun to try something different by offering some one-day specialty clinics. Last year, we had some success with Hit It Long, a one-day 90-minute clinic. Currently, I’m offering 3 clinics this season with the first one, Slicer’s Corner, on Saturday, April 9th from 10:00 – 11:30 am. This clinic will be a fun way to learn how to fix your slice so you can start the season off playing well. I will also offer a second Slicer’s Corner clinic on June 11th. The other clinic, Drive For Show/Putt For Dough, is a 2-hour clinic that will help you hit your tee shots longer and straighter, and help you make more putts. Click on the links below to register and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. The class sizes will be limited to 10 students. Sign-up early to secure your spot!
Drive for show/Putt for dough
Looking to hit the ball longer and straighter off the tee? Would you like to average a few less putts per round? If so, then don’t miss out on this unique 2-hour clinic that will focus one hour each to the two most important clubs in the game, the driver and the putter. Sign-up early to secure your spot!
- Date: Saturday, June 4
- Time: 9:30 – 11:30 A.M.
- Cost: $40 (Class size limited to 10 students)
- Register online
The Slicer’s Corner
Have you been slicing the ball for years? Would you like to learn why you slice the ball and how to hit a draw? If so, then sign up for this 90-minute clinic and fix that slice forever.
- Dates: Saturdays, April 9 or June 11
- Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
- Cost: $30.00/class (Class size limited to 10 students)
- Register online
****Call me at Sharon Woods, 769-4325, or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions.****
USE YOUR RIGHT SIDE TO STOP YOUR SLICE
In a good golf swing, I believe the upper body, lower body, and arms should work in unison. Another way to think about it is your left side and right side should work together turning through the ball. Makes sense, right? Would you want just half of your body doing all the work? Or just your arms flailing at the ball? I didn’t think so.
A sliced shot, a ball that curves left-to-right, occurs when the clubface is open, pointing right, at impact. This open clubface can be caused by many things like open shoulders at address, swinging across the ball on the downswing, coming down too steeply into the ball, etc. Today, I’m going to cover another reason a slice may occur and how to fix it.
A large percentage of golfers I see that slice the ball tend to pull down using more upper body than lower body. When this happens, the upper body is pulling away from the lower body. More to the point, the left side (weak side) is pulling down and left. To hit the ball better, the right side must contribute.
Why Pulling With Your Weak Side Is Bad
There are two reasons why pulling with the left side is bad. One, it tends to leave the clubface open. It’s very difficult to rotate through the shot when the left side is pulling. The second reason is you’re losing a ton of power. Think of it this way. If you had to move a large box that weighed 80 pounds, would you rather pull it or push it? Push it, right? You get a lot more power that way. Back to golf, pulling left not only opens the clubface, but it also lessens the force you’re putting into the shot (I want to make it clear I’m not necessarily advocating pushing on your downswing, I just want you to stop pulling.)
To fix this problem, you have to activate your right side. This is not as difficult as it seems.
- On your downswing, I want you to feel your hands are coming down more from the inside – closer to your right thigh. If your hands get away from your body too much, you’ll have to pull left. I want you to feel you’re swinging a little in-to-out.
- Once step one is done, you have to turn your right side through the shot. To get the right feeling, I would like you to make swings with the golf club with your right hand/arm only. Take a wide backswing and swing all the way through to your finish. If you’ve ever played tennis, I would like for you to replicate a topspin tennis shot. Notice how the right arm and clubface are releasing/rolling over, not staying open – clubface pointed right or up to the sky.
- At your finish, if turned your right side through, your belt buckle will be pointed to the target, your weight will be over your left leg, and the shaft of the club will be perpendicular to your spine. If you pull coming down, the shaft will be closer to your spine angle.
To summarize, try to swing through the ball using your dominant side rather than pulling across the ball with your weak side. Done properly, you’ll start hitting the ball straighter and further hopefully adding 10 yards of distance to all your clubs.
Good luck, thanks for reading, and practice hard.
NO MORE SHANKS!
Alright, let’s just get it out-of-the-way right now. Shank, shank, shank, shank, shank, shank, shank. Say it with pride and conviction. Shank, shank, shank! Embrace it. Let’s not call it the “S-word”, or anything else that doesn’t justify the pure dreadfulness of the shot. Just get it out and be done with it. Shank! Say it again. Shank! Shank! The first step in recovering from a shank is to accept it in all it’s glory. It’s happens. In fact, it’s happens to the best of us. I’m good for a few shanks a year. It’s no big deal. I saw Jim Furyk shank one on the 72nd hole of his recent victory in Tampa. It happens to everyone. It’s obviously no fun to hit one, but hey, shanks happen. Today, I’m going to explain the major causes of the shank, how to go about fixing them, and how to recover when this lateral shot occurs.
What Causes A Shank
First of all, let’s clarify that a shank is hit off the hosel of the golf club. This is the area just below the shaft. Now, I have seen shanks off the toe, but they’re pretty rare. When you shank a shot off the toe of the club, it’s usually short and soft off to the right. A shank off the hosel comes off with a ton of steam and curves way off to the right, much more penalizing.
Simply, a shank is a shot where the hosel of the club comes in contact with the ball first before the clubface hits the ball. This can happen two ways: the clubface has gotten closer to the ball at impact compared to the address position, or the clubface is very open at impact with the hosel leading the way. Here are some of the ways this can happen:
- Starting with your weight on your heels - When you start with your weight on your heels, you will rock back and forth like a teeter totter during your swing and will usually be on your toes at impact. When your weight is on your toes at impact, you’ve usually gotten closer to the golf ball. This pushes your hands towards the ball making it easier to hit the ball off the hosel.
- Standing too close to the ball – Standing too close to the ball at address gives you very little space to swing down into the ball. The force of the swing will either cause your hands to go up or out resulting in a steep swing or a shank. Neither is preferred.
- Aiming too much to the right - When you aim right with your body and look to out to the target, your eyes will subconsciously tell you to swing left. When you do this, it causes you to pull left. When you pull left with the club, it causes the hosel of the club lead the way back to the ball. It’s much harder to release/square the clubface when you’re making a pulling motion with your left side.
- Swinging outside-to-in (across the ball) - The swing that causes the slice can also cause the shank. Sorry slicers! But, like I just stated, when you swing across the ball (outside-to-in) the hosel has a much better chance of hitting the ball first.
How To Fix These Faults and Stop The Shanks
- Proper Posture at Address – Generally, when your weight is on your heels, you’re bending too much from your knees. Proper posture involves leaning over from your hip joints (waist), not sitting down in your knees. To do this, stand tall with the club resting along your right shoulder. Lean over keeping the club there and your knees locked. Then slowly drop the club down to the ground. Last, bend your knees about an inch, no more. This will evenly balance your weight and allow your arms to hang from your shoulders.
- Standing the Proper Distance From the Ball – When you’ve addressed your ball, there should be ample space, about 5 inches, between the end of the grip and your belt buckle. If you’re bending from your waist and not your knees, while allowing your arms to hang naturally you should’ve created this space. This space allows you to return the club from where it started instead of it being pushed outward by the body when jammed up.
- Aim Correctly – Place a club on the ground pointing to your target. Place another club parallel to this club about where your feet will be placed. Remove the first club and put a ball down. Your feet should be parallel to your target line. At first, you’ll feel like you’re aimed 40 yards left, but it’ll show you just how much you were swinging left on your downswing. After some practice, you’ll start swinging down the line longer decreasing the chance of a shank.
- Swing In-to-Out – The golf swing is a circular motion. The swing goes up and in and back down to the ball on the same path. Due to the fact the ball is off to our side, you will swing back to the ball from the inside. To hit the ball properly, you should be hitting the ball slightly from the inside. When you slice the ball, most likely, you’re swinging from the outside-to-in. This motion can also cause the shank. Try hitting the inside part of the ball out to the right. It’s hard to do when you fear right (the normal result of a slice), but it’s how to properly stop the slice.
What To Do After A Shank
First, look to see if anyone saw the shot. Maybe, just maybe, no one saw the shot and you can meander over to your next shot without shame, just a new challenge from a different spot. Second, if your playing partners saw it, laugh it off. How did that happen? Obviously, everyone knows how, but act as if it’s the first shank you’ve every seen. Just craziness. A total freak of nature shot. It’ll never happen again. Third, get determined. If you’re ball is still in play (I will admit, shanking it out-of-bounds, into a condo, lake, or woods is pretty discouraging. At this point, it’s best to just pull your hat down a bit, shed a quick tear, say a prayer, re-tie your shoes, choose a different club for the next shot and go onward.) flip your attitude to the opposite and accept the challenge. Try to make a par or bogey after shanking a shot. It feels pretty good making a par after shanking one. Accept the shot, deal with it, and go forward challenging yourself to not allow it to affect the rest of the hole or round.
Simple Tip To Stop The Shanks: Use These Tips When Struggling Mid-Round or On The Range
- Keep your hands in close to your body, backswing and downswing
- Feel heavy, balanced feet at address
- Try rotating/closing the clubface sooner on your downswing
It’s been said that the hardest shot in golf is the shot after a shank. Sometimes, this is very true, but hopefully these clarifications and tips will eliminate your shanks for good.
Thanks for reading and good luck!
HIT YOUR DRIVER FARTHER BY SETTING UP TO LAUNCH THE BALL
Would you like to hit your driver longer, higher, and straighter? Of course you would, right? Well, then why are you setting up to drive the ball low and crooked? You’re probably wondering how I know you’re set up incorrectly. You may not be, but most likely you are. Almost every amateur I teach is not set up correctly with their drivers. It’s truly amazing how golfers would love to hit the ball longer off the tee, yet a large majority are set up to drive the ball into the ground or to hit the big, bad, ugly slice.
To optimize your distance off the tee, you should be increasing the effective loft of your driver by 2-4 degrees at impact. Example: If you have a 10 degree driver, the launch angle of the ball at impact should be 12-14 degrees. I’m not recommending you to hit up on the ball to accomplish this, but to set up in such a way to allow it to happen naturally. Today, I’m going to help you do this by going over some of the most common errors setting up with the driver, the causes of this poor set up, and how to fix these errors.
Most of the amateurs I see set up improperly with their drivers. The most common faults I see are playing the ball too far back in the stance, too narrow of a stance, open shoulders, weight favoring their target-side foot, or hands ahead of the ball. All of these common faults can drastically affect the success rate of a golfer’s tee shot. Setting up with these faults will tend to either make the swing too steep coming into the ball, or make the swing too much from the outside-to-in. Not ideal to launch the ball long and straight.
Setting up correctly with the driver really isn’t that difficult, it’s just a matter of taking the time to do it correctly once you know how. With your driver, the goal is to fly the ball as far as possible with low spin so the ball rolls after landing. Here are the keys to set up correctly:
- Position the ball up in your stance off your left heel or one ball off that heel.
- Widen your right foot so your stance is wider than your shoulders. It should be a few inches wider than the stance used for your irons. With your driver, you may be swinging over 100 mph. That’s fast. Setting up with a wider base will allow you to maintain your balance much easier.
- Allow your hands to rest comfortably between your arms which will leave them at or slightly behind the ball.
- Let your arms hang from your shoulders or slightly outside leaving about 5-6 inches of space between the end of the grip and your belt-line.
- Weight distribution should be 50/50 or slightly favoring your rear foot. Favoring your target-side foot can open your shoulders and could cause you to swing too steeply ball. Common shots from this set up position would be pop-ups, slices, and very low tee shots.
- Ensure that your shoulders are square at address. This is overlooked by many, but very important. Most have open shoulders at address which also leads to a slice. Practice squaring up your shoulders by checking to see if they’re parallel to your toes, hips, and target line.
Setting up in this launching position will allow to swing in such a way that you will hit your driver on a slight upswing from the inside. The angle of attack will be pretty shallow which decreases the side-spin on the ball lessening the chance of a big slice. This may be a big change for you, but if done correctly, I guarantee you’ll hit the ball longer and straighter.
Good luck and thanks for reading!
HIT THE INSIDE QUARTER OF THE BALL
One of the simple misconceptions about the game is what part of the golf ball to hit. Most would answer the back of the ball, and I would say they’re wrong. To hit the ball properly, you should hit the ball slightly from the inside.
The game of golf, just like baseball and tennis, is a side-sport. Unlike bowling and tossing a ball underhand, these side-sport games swing around our bodies, not up-and-down. Due to this fact, the golf swing goes back and up to the inside then returns back down from the inside. Shortly after impact, the golf club returns back to the inside. Imagine a hula hoop is wrapped around your body on the same plane as the shaft at address. Can you see how swinging up and down along the hoop would have you coming back down to the ball from the inside? It’s not drastically from the inside, but it is enough that not doing it properly will cause poor results. And that’s no fun.
Now, let’s get to the part where we stop that slice. When you slice the ball, your golf swing is not going up and down along that hula hoop I just spoke about. It may be going back along the hoop, but on the way down, most likely, the golf club is swinging over/on-top of the hula hoop too much. This makes the club swing across the line causing left-to-right sidespin on the golf ball. Another way to say it is you’re hitting the outside of the golf ball with an open face. Hitting the outside of the ball with an open face = slice. It’s as simple as that.
A simple golf tip to fix this problem is to actually try to hit the inside quarter of the golf ball (*hint, hint* – you actually want to hit the inside part of the ball). If you can hit the inside part of the ball, you’ll have a much better chance to hit the ball straight or even hit the coveted draw. When you hit the inside part of the ball, you’ll swing down the target longer and, by doing this, you’re in a much better position to release the golf club instead of holding the face open. Releasing the club properly will allow you to hit the draw.
The next time you go to a driving range try this drill. Take a range ball and place it on a tee. Turn the ball so the red, green, or black range ball stripe is positioned on the inside of the ball. Then, hit the stripe trying to send the stripe out to the right. Yes, I said that. Try to hit the ball to the right. The odds are you won’t be able to do this right away, but once you can hit your ball a little right you’re not too far from hitting that draw you’ve dreamed about. I know, it’s hard because you dread seeing the ball curve off to the right so you can’t fathom trying to hit it there, but this is how to fix that slice. Swing to the right. Hit the inside quarter of the ball. Once you get that down, just roll the club over. Walla! Draw every time. Have fun with it and hopefully your draw will come soon.
Thanks for reading,
Kyle Voska, PGA
THE 9 SHOTS YOU CAN HIT
Believe it or not, there are 9 different types of shots you can hit on a golf course. Some of you may be laughing to yourself thinking that you can hit plenty more than that, right? Hooks, slices, pushes, pulls, tops, shanks, etc. So many shots! Allow me to explain what I’m talking about.
When you swing the club, you can either swing inside-to-out (push), square, or outside-to-in (pull) equaling 3 total swing paths. With these 3 paths there are 3 different angles your clubface can be: open, square, or closed. 3 swings multiplied by 3 face angles equals 9 shots. Even if you shank, top, or duff the ball you still fit into one of these 9 swings. Normally, you only hit 3 different types of shots. Most likely, you only have one swing path, but you change your face angle which produces a variety of 3 different shot patterns.
Now, let me explain some examples. If you swing outside-to-in with a closed clubface your ball will start left then hook. This is called a pull-hook. If you swing inside-to-out with an open clubface your ball will start right then slice. This is called a push-slice. If you swing square with an open face your ball will start straight and tail off to the right. This is a slice, or a fade (small version of a slice). Generally, the ball will start where you swing while the curvature of the ball is determined by the clubface at impact. The clubface will have more impact on where your ball goes compared to the swing path.
Sidenote For Slicers
There’s an important note I need to make. Slicers pay careful attention! Sometimes you can swing outside-to-in and the ball will actually start right. This is due to a very open clubface. Sometimes the face is so open the ball deflects off the face to the right. This could possibly deceive the golfer. This is pretty typical for golfers that slice the ball. The majority that slice the ball swing outside-to-in with an open clubface. Sometimes their clubface is so open that the ball starts right of their target and slices more to the right. Unaware of what causes this, the golfer may then try to swing more to the left which would exacerbate the slice even more.
The key is learning from your mis-hits. Easier said than done, but if you learn what causes a shot it’s a lot easier to start fixing it instead guessing all the time. This may take a lesson or two with a PGA Instructor to figure out. If you’re pulling the ball left try to swing out to right field more. If you’re slicing the ball, try to rotate the clubface over sooner on your downswing. Practice in slow-motion to see what you would have to do to fix your tendency. Then gradually swing faster and hopefully better results will come shortly.
Good luck and practice smart!
STOP THAT SLICE!
Do you fight the slice like most golfers? Would you like to stop it? I’m sure the answer is yes. The slice (ball flight that curves from the left to right for right-handed golfers) could be caused by many things. Today, I’m going to explain how squaring up your shoulders at address can help you to cure that annoying slice.
The slice, simply, is caused by an open club face at impact. Any time the club face is open at impact (pointing to the right), the ball will curve left to right. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is actually. Hitting a slice is easy. Stopping it can be difficult. The club face must be relatively square to the target line at impact to stop the slice.
One of the major causes of the slice is an improper setup with your shoulders. When you setup, ideally, your toe lines will be parallel to your target line, like a little railroad track. Equally important, your shoulders should be parallel to your toe line. From my experience, most slicers’ shoulders are open at address (aiming left). The problem with that is two-fold. One, your arms will generally swing along your shoulders since their attached. This will cause your arms to swing left too soon. The club then pulls across the target line with an open club face. Two, this pulling across move magnifies the slice because your compounding an open club face with a pulled-left swing.
Here comes the good news! The fix is pretty simple, but you need a friend to help: 1) take your normal setup, 2) have a friend place a club along your toes, 3) then, have your friend hold another club facing you along your shoulders, and 4) while your friend holds his place (tell them to stay still), step back about 10 feet behind the ball. Check to see if the shafts along your shoulders and toes are parallel. If so, great. If not, I’m guessing your shoulders are aiming left. Rarely, are they aiming too much to the right.
If your shoulders were aiming left, practice seeing more of your left shoulder at address from your left eye. You may have to move your ball position back an inch or two in your stance to help you do this. It will feel odd at first, but eventually it’ll become natural. I bet you’ll feel like you’re going to hit the ball way right. But, believe it or not, this is good. To stop the slice, you need to feel like you’re swinging to the right.
This is just one step towards stopping that ugly slice. But, it’s an important one. When your shoulders are square it gives you the freedom to make a full shoulder turn. This, in turn, allows you to come back to the ball more from the inside (this is good). When you come back to the ball from the inside you will be able to start the ball closer to your target line.
In a nutshell, open shoulders = shallow/little shoulder turn on your backswing = arms swinging left too soon = big slice = no fun!
I would highly recommend checking your shoulder alignment soon and often. This is something that can easily be taken for granted, but it’s something PGA Tour players check every day.