By Donald Crawley, Golf Contributor - Archive - Email
Why does my driver slice?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It is time to address the number one question in a golf instructor's world. "Why do I slice my driver?" I know some of you hook the driver but, if we appeal to the majority, 85% of those reading this article slice their driver.

Let's talk about the cause of the slice and then the correction. For those following the basic impact and ball flight laws, a slice is caused when the face of the club is open to the path, which imparts side spin on the ball. If we can square the face of the club to the path your club is traveling on, you will cure the slice. Simple. Keeping things simple, and remember that I teach golf simplified, I will address four factors that can affect the clubface. If we tackle these four factors you will be able to help yourself, square the face, and eliminate your slice. These four factors are: Grip, Path, Plane, and Release.

Grip: The position and the pressure of the way you hold the club has a direct influence on the club face. The two most common mistakes are gripping the club too much in your palm, rather than at the base of your fingers, and holding the club too tightly with a strangle death grip. For right-handed players, put your left hand at the top of the grip sometimes referred to as 'handle.'
driver grip
This is the correct grip when you need to fix your slice.
Check that the grip is running across your ring finger and under the fleshy pad of your hand. This places the club grip/handle running diagonally across the last three fingers of your left hand (for golfers playing right-handed). When you close your hand, make sure your forearm is on top and you can see part of your glove logo. You should see your first two knuckles - i.e., visible, and the V formed between thumb and fore-finger, pointing to the right of your face. Now place your right hand on the shaft holding the club in the base of your fingers, closing your right palm over your left thumb at the same time. The right hand V should run parallel to the left V and point to the right of your face. A common statement "both V's point toward your right shoulders" is a good policy for slicers. Check point: with only your left hand holding the club, you should be able to cock your wrist and support the club while feeling pressure in the last three fingers. If your wrists don't cock, the club is probably sitting too much in your palm.

Path: This is the factor that gets most of the press when slicing is discussed. When you hear 'over the top' or 'cutting across' that is really describing an outside-in swing path. If your club does swing on an outside-in path it doesn't cause a slice, it is usually the effect, and it certainly doesn't help. The most desired path is an inside to inside swing. However, because you slice, you will have developed an outside in swing and, to correct it, you will need to feel as if you are swinging inside out. To help you learn a new inside swing, check your shoulders and arm alignment at address. Slicers tend to aim their arms and shoulders way to the left and that is called "open at address." This is a subconscious cure to overcome the fear of slicing the ball to the right. The correct cure is to feel the close of your arms and shoulders by pulling your right shoulder back and down. Closing your shoulders will have a much more positive effect on your path than a closed foot stance. Check point: If your shoulders are aligned square to the target, you should see your left shoulder as you glance at the target. This square alignment will help you swing on-line. If you have a clear unobstructed view, your shoulders are too open or aligned left, setting you up to swing outside-in.

Plane: The plane of your swing can either be flat, steep or on plane. Think of plane as angle. Most slicers, but not all, tend to have a steep swing. Steep means vertical and can be corrected by improving your posture at address.
driver grip
For better results on your drive, you should turn and get the club on plane.
Stand with your back straight and your chin out of your chest. Tip forward at your hips until your shoulders are directly above your toes, then gently flex your knees, Keep your chin out of your chest with your head up rather than down! This straight spine angle at address will improve your torso rotation and round out your swing on a flatter plane. Check point; at the top of your backswing your chest has turned (as close to as possible) 90 degrees and the club shaft is above your rear shoulder, but behind your head. The club shaft should also be parallel to the target-line. If the club is over your head your plane is too steep. There are a minority of slicers who swing too flat. That is when the arms and shaft are below your rear shoulders at the top of the backswing. To help cure that, go back to your address posture and tip over more at the hips until your arms hang straight down and over your toes. When the club is off plane it is not impossible, but more difficult, to square the face to the swing path. Think posture and improve your plane.

Release: This is a big topic of discussion. I will use the word "release" to help describe the timing of the hands/arms and body action. I must go on record here and state that 'flipping the hands' is not how to release the club head. Think of release as the 'energy releasing from your body and arms to the club head through impact.' Most slicers release their upper body, especially the shoulders, way ahead of the club head. This keeps the face open too long in the downswing. Some slicers cast their wrists too early and ahead of the lower body or core muscles. This can cause both slices and hooks, and certainly restricts the club head speed able to generate. Correct timing and release is when the arms swing the club through the ball at the same time as the core (legs, hips, glutes and abdomen) rotates through impact. So, if you are still slicing try to swing your arms (not throwing your wrists) before your shoulders unwind but turn your legs/hips/tummy at the same time. In summary, for me, the downswing is a combination of swinging the arms and turning (the middle part) of your body at the same time. This will give you an increasing chance to square the clubface to your swing path, hence hitting a straight ball not a slice.

Recently voted Top-10 in Best Teachers in State of Arizona by Golf Digest. Also, contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.

When Scottsdale beckons and golf awaits, a call to Donald Crawley at The Boulders is a must.

Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 35 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs' Golf Schools.

Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002 & 2005, he won the Southwest Section PGA's Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.
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