Our 50 best slice-busters : Seeking a cure for the common banana? Look here – golf tips for curing a slice

Ed Weathers

You swing, you slice. Gesundheit.

Like the common cold, the common slice has many causes. That’s bad. It also has many cures. That’s good.

For 50 years now, we at Golf Digest have been giving you remedies for your slice. From Middlecoff to Mickelson, from Penick to Leadbetter–the best players and teachers of three generations have offered you a thousand ways to rid yourself of the dreaded boomerangs.

Snake oil!, you say–because you’ve been a subscriber for years, decades even, and you’ve read every tip, considered every suggestion. And still you slice.

Well, don’t blame us. Fact is, you can no more cure your slice by reading a tip than you can clear your sinuses by reading the prescription on a bottle. You have to read the tip and then do something about it. Take that tip to the range. Make 50 new practice swings. Maybe in front of a mirror. Even, gulp, change your grip if you must. In other words, take your medicine. Swallow the pill.

The cure for your slice is somewhere on the following pages–we promise. Now wipe your nose and get to work.

1. Take it back square

The first few feet of the backswing sets the tone for the entire swing. I try to keep the clubhead square on those critical first few feet. Average players fan the clubface open on the backswing and come over the top on the downswing trying to square it. Most often, they either pull-hook it or hit the banana ball. Check the first few feet of your backswing, and take the club back square. (By Phil Mickelson, year 2000)

2. Seek the perfect path

The slicer’s clubhead comes at the ball from outside the target line (top). The ideal clubhead path is shown in the large illustration at right. Make sure your clubhead comes from inside the target line to along the line at impact, then back inside it. (Byron Nelson, 1976)

3. Start down with the arms

From a correct position at the top of the backswing, your forward swing should start with your arms swinging down. If your shoulders unwind too soon, your arms and club will be spun outside the correct path, and your club will approach the ball on too steep an angle. (Peter Kostis, 1978)

4. Take it easy

Don’t tighten up that grip. Relax, relax, relax. (Sam Snead, 1963)

5. Play ball

Pretend you’re at home plate. Aim your body slightly right of second base, but aim your clubface straight at the base. Come down the line on plane and hit a hard fly ball over the shortstop by rotating your left forearm. (Harvey Penick, 1992)

6. Hold the wrist cock

Keep your wrists cocked until your hands get down to waist level. Practice this in slow motion, over and over. (Johnny Revolta, 1952)

7. Change your grip

Try a stronger grip by turning both hands equally, little by little, to the right. (Jack Nicklaus, 1975)

8. Drive a stake down from the top

Your first move from the top of the backswing should be with your arms, wrists and hands swinging the club straight down. Imagine driving a stake into the ground. You can actually try it by gently tapping a stake or clubshaft placed as you see here. (Davis Love Jr., 1985)

9. Return the right elbow to the right side

Your left hip turns and leads your downswing. Early in the downswing, your right shoulder should lower and your right elbow should return to your right side. If your right elbow is flying or flapping in the breeze, you will cut across the ball, producing a pull or slice. (Sam Snead, 1964)

10. ‘Lay on hands’ for good address position

To avoid a slice, monitor three factors at address: (1) Your right shoulder should be lower than your left, (2) your shoulders should be parallel to the target line and (3) your right arm should be nearer your torso than your left. A good check is to lay the back of your right hand into your left palm. This should set you in the proper position. (Johnny Miller, 1997)

11. Stay ‘inside’ the target line

Your club, hands and arms should stay well inside the target line on the downswing and follow-through. With a proper shoulder turn (above), the clubhead will remain inside the target line throughout the swing, but will pass along that line in the hitting area, as this illustration shows. (Byron Nelson, 1968)

12. Try thinner grips

Thinner grips can help a golfer hit a draw because they allow more wrist action. (Gary Player, 1964)

13. Limit your hip turn

Minimize your hip turn on the backswing, so you don’t take the club too far inside and then loop over the top. (Jack Burke Jr., 1961)

14. Start with face open

Start with the clubface open at address, so all your instincts are working to rotate the clubface to square at impact. (John Elliott, 1987)

15. Start down with the legs

Start your forward swing with a leg-thrust left. (Eddie Merrins, 1973)

16. Reverse the overlap

Grip with the left forefinger over the right pinkie. (Steve Jones, 1997)

17. Keep a steady head

To hit a draw, set your head back of the ball, then concentrate on keeping it there. To help you, have someone hold tightly to your hair while you hit full shots. This–painfully!–is how Jack Grout finally got the message to me as a youngster. Less drastically, hit shots while someone holds the grip end of a club lightly on top of your head. (Jack Nicklaus, 1974 and 1981)

18. Work on the thumbs-up drill

Without a club, swing back with your arms. When they are horizontal, your thumbs should be pointing up. Next, swing through until your thumbs are again pointing up. Now repeat with a club, focusing on your thumbs. You should hit the ball straight or with a draw. (Dr. DeDe Owens, 1992)

19. Practice the hand-on-shaft drill

This drill maintains your spine angle and keeps your chest from rotating early. Put your driver even with your back foot. Put your left hand on top of the shaft, and swing your right hand under it, palm down. This mirrors a proper swing. (Rick Smith, 1999)

20. Throw the club

You need to “release” the club to square the clubface. To feel release, actually throw old clubs down the range as far as you can when it’s empty. Once the clubs fly consistently on target, you’ll be swinging from the inside with good spaghetti-like soft arms. (Davis Love Jr., 1982)

21. Swing at the inside quadrant

As you address the ball, imagine that it is divided into quarter sections. Think of swinging the club into the inside back quarter of the ball. Your shots will straighten out and you may even develop a little right-to-left draw. (Frank Beard, 1975)

22. Tee the ball higher

Teeing it higher discourages you from hitting down too much on the ball with the driver, which can cause slices. (Bob Toski, 1986)

23. Feel ‘outside’ takeaway

Feel that you are taking the clubhead straight back, or even slightly to the outside at the start of the backswing. (Dave Marr, 1966)

24. Let the left side control

If you’re right-handed, grip the club more firmly in your left hand than your right, and relax your right side at address–from your shoulder to your big toe. (Betty Dodd, 1957)

25. Slow body, fast arms

Swing through the ball with your arms before your shoulders unwind. (John Jacobs, 1972)

26. Skip a stone

Try skipping some rocks off the surface of a pond. This action gives you the feeling of a shallower angle of attack during your golf swing–flatter to the ground and more from inside the target line. When you next hit golf shots, remember the feeling you had when skipping those stones off the water. (Chuck Cook, 1989)

27. Practice with your elbows tied

To correct the tendency to “overpower the swing,” practice swinging with a band stretched across your arms above the elbows. A regular belt will also do. This will help educate your elbows, which should remain about the same distance apart as they play their subordinate role throughout the swing. Remove the band occasionally and try to duplicate the elbow positions you maintained with it on. (Betty Hicks, 1960)

28. Shake hands with the target

Tiger Woods says: “For a right-to-left ball flight, I try to let my right forearm pass over my left. That’s a sign of rotation–of moving the clubface to a square or slightly closed position.”

Butch Harmon adds: “As for Tiger allowing his right forearm to pass over his left to hit a draw, I have another way of putting it: ‘Shake hands with the target.’ ” (1998)

29. Picture a ‘toe hit’

As you swing down, imagine you are going to hit the ball with the toe of the club. You won’t hit it there, but trying to will cause you to rotate the clubface counterclockwise, producing hook spin. Rotate your left forearm, without flipping or breaking your wrist. As you swing into your follow-through, your left palm should face skyward. Practice with the left arm only, then both arms together. (Gary Wiren, 1976)

30. Strengthen your wrists

Spread the page of a newspaper flat and then crumple it into a ball with just one hand. This makes your hands and wrists stronger and more supple. (Phil Rodgers, 1966)

31. Touch your forearms

Try to touch your left forearm with your right forearm as you strike the ball. They may not actually touch, but the thought will help you release the club. (Tom Watson, 1987)

32. Check the right elbow

At the top of the backswing, your right elbow should point at your right hip pocket. (Johnny Revolta, 1953)

33. Pull the butt down

Start down with the arms. Pull the butt end of the grip toward the back of the ball. (Hank Johnson, 1982)

34. Make a figure-8

For a draw, think of the swing as a figure-8. With a slightly open stance, take the club back parallel to your feet. Start your downswing by letting your arms draw down and inward so your right arm falls closer to your right hip. This allows you to swing the club into the ball from the inside. After impact, swing the club out to the right of the target. Then the club travels up and around at the finish, completing the figure-8. (Lee Trevino, 1992)

35. Check your wrist position at the top

To be in a square position at the top of your swing, you want to have a straight-line relationship between the back of your left hand, wrist and lower forearm (left). If the back of your left hand cups inward (below) or bends outward, you must compensate on the downswing to strike the ball squarely. (Dick Aultman, 1970)

36. Swing in a chair to feel the club turning

Sit on a chair and hold the club straight out in front of you. Swing your arms back and through. On the backswing, let the right arm fold and the left arm swing over it. On the forward swing, do the opposite. You’ll feel your arms and clubface turning and squaring the club at impact, and your arms controlling the swing. Keep that feeling in your real swing. (Jim Flick, 1980)

37. Use a broom to check clubface position

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether the clubface is square during the swing. A larger object like a broom can make things clearer. Take the broom back until the handle is horizontal and parallel to your toe line. The broom’s head should be vertical. This is a square position and is reached by turning your body and swinging your arms, not by manipulating your hands and wrists. (Gale Peterson, 1998)

38. Rotate the left forearm

Rotate the left forearm to the right going back. Rotate it to the left coming down. Close the clubface hard at impact. (Harvey Penick, 1992)

39. Take a closed stance

Close your stance by pulling your right foot back from the target line. Shift your weight to your left foot on the downswing. (Gary Player, 1961)

40. Change your club choice

When you absolutely cannot afford to slice, use a more lofted club. Loft creates more backspin than side-spin, so the ball will fly straighter. (Peter Kostis, 1990)

41. Think tempo

Start your downswing at the same pace that you finished your backswing. (Al Geiberger, 1983)

42. Pull the handle down

Don’t “throw” the clubhead at the ball. Instead, think of pulling the handle of the club down and through. Delay the uncocking of your right wrist until your hands are about waist high on the downswing. (Ernie Els, 1998)

43. Be more horizontal swinging back than swinging down

To produce a proper clubhead path, turn your shoulders on a more horizontal plane on your backswing (left) than on your downswing (right). Keep your head behind the ball as the right shoulder lowers. (George Knudson, 1965)

44. Keep the towel taut

On the downswing, as the left side moves, the right side should resist. Stand at address with either end of a towel in your hands. Let it hang loosely. Make a backswing, then from the top try to pull up with your right hand and simultaneously down with your left, so that the towel is taut. This will exaggerate the feeling of the left side pulling as the right side resists. (David Leadbetter, 1993)

45. Slap hands to find the proper plane

Swing back and through and back repeatedly with your hands apart, as shown. Let the right hand slap the left at the bottom of the downswing and left slap the right at the bottom of the backswing. This will help your swing plane and body rotation. (Cary Middlecoff, 1959)

46. Practice the 3-ball drill

Tee three balls as shown. Lay a club down to indicate the target line. Practice hitting only the middle ball without hitting either of the other two for a more in-to-out downswing. (Chuck Cook, 1997)

47. Pull the heel down first

I slide the club out at address so the ball is aligned with the heel of the club. This reminds me to pull the heel down first on the downswing. (Fuzzy Zoeller, 1984)

48. Drill: Drop the right hand

Practice hitting balls with your right hand coming off the club after impact. This discourages spinning the right shoulder. (Peter Kostis, 1978)

49. Try a softer shaft

Weak hands may benefit from using whippy shafts, which help square up the clubface. (Alastair Cochran, John Stobbs, 1969)

50. Go right

Attempt to hit the ball to the right of the fairway. (Classic advice from Sam Snead, exactly 50 years ago)

COPYRIGHT 2000 New York Times Company Magazine Group, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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