Nemesis: An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
Slicing in golf is quite common. It happens to the best of them – even Tiger Woods was not immune.
Every slicer out there wishes a permanent solution would materialize out of the blue, but an effective solution can be had in a series of relationships. Here’s a different take, and just remember, even when you think you have kicked it, think of Tiger. There are 5 relationships at which we want to look:
- Loft & Shaft Flex
- Posture & Grip
- Ball Position & Tee Height
- Angle of Attack
- Shoulder Movements
1) Loft & Shaft Flex The lower the loft and the stiffer the shaft flex, the more opportunity there is to slice it. Think of loft this way: For a very high loft, like a 60 degree wedge, you really cannot slice it. Every degree of loft you go down will impart more sidespin, a lower launch, and more direction loss. Higher lofts go straighter and that means that 9.5 or 10.5 will not go as straight as an 11.5 or 12.5. And for slower swing speeds, there are drivers on the market in any loft up to 18.5 degrees. Start with a high loft, and then test each lower loft. When the ball starts going crooked you know you’ve gone too low.
2) Posture & Grip When you set up, your rear shoulder should be lower than your forward shoulder. In fact, it should be quite a bit lower because your rear hand is a full hand’s width lower than your top hand. To add to that, your spine angle should be tilted slightly to the rear, all of which will affect #4, Angle of Attack.
For the most part, direction is most easily affected by changing the position of the forward or top hand. Many slicers start with a very neutral grip, with the top hand thumb pointed straight down the middle of the grip – let’s call this the 12:00 position (or, “north” on a compass). This is a prime position to cause a slice. As you turn your top hand farther to the rear, the corresponding directions of the ensuing shots moves the ball flight away from the slicing direction. If you turned your hand all the way to place the thumb in the 3:00 position (or “east”), chances are good that you would severely hook the ball.
3) Ball Position & Tee Height As you move the ball position farther forward, the tee height should begin to raise. For example, if the ball position was outside of your forward foot, you would need the tee height to be very high so you could catch the ball on the upswing of the swing arc. Because you are raising the tee height, if you go under the ball and “sky” it, that means that your club was on its way down when it met the ball.
4) Angle of Attack This is what you’re after…You want to catch the ball at either the bottom of the arc of your swing, or slightly after that so you would impact the ball slightly on the upswing. If you impact the ball on the downswing the ball will have a great deal of backspin which causes the ball to “balloon” up, and the clubface will be very difficult to “square up” and is usually open.
What you’ll notice is that the ball may go high, but it will not be “ballooning”, and these higher shots will go straighter.
5) Shoulder Movement Here’s the kicker, and probably the part of this that you may not have heard before. In the backswing start by trying to make the rear arm and shoulder very relaxed and passive, allowing it go where the forward shoulder says – it just gets out of the way. When you reach the top of the backswing here’s the big difference: in swinging forward try to make sure that the rear shoulder “stays inside of the forward shoulder” or “goes under the forward shoulder”. This will cause the rear arm and hand to follow the rear shoulder instead of swinging out and “over the top”, delivering the club from inside of the target line to a level impact, or slightly on the upswing (see video).
So that’s it: Use a higher loft, a softer flexed shaft, get your rear shoulder lower than the forward shoulder, start placing your top hand more and more to the rear on the grip, start raising the tee and moving the ball more forward in your stance, and don’t let the rear shoulder get exposed to the target line early.
Easy peasy! Each of these adjustments affects the ball flight – Sound complicated? Or, try just nos. 1 and 5 and let’s see how you do! Let’s get rid of your nemesis.
Bob Duncan is a Master Clubfitter, with over $1.7 million in custom fitted equipment sales since 1992.