Ways to purge banana ball
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
A slice, one of the most common faults committed by recreational golfers, results from an open clubface alignment at impact. The best way to eliminate the banana ball is to deliver the clubface squarely to the ball on a path that is from slightly inside the ball-target line to outside. Here are nine ways of fixing the problem.
1. The first way to keep slices at bay is to avoid a weak grip. How the club is held greatly influences the clubface position through impact.
2. Be sure that you are in a position at the address that encourages you to swing on an in-to-out path through the ball. An out-to-in swing path makes it hard to square the clubface through impact, increasing the chance of a slice.
3. Distribute the bodyweight evenly on the balls of the feet and flex the knees so that you can balance yourself. You need to be in an athletic position ready to spring in any direction, as if to catch the ball if someone throws it to you.
Similarly, slightly tilt the spine to the right away from the target by lowering the right shoulder so the shoulders slope downward. That encourages an in-to-out swing path through the shot, preventing the banana ball from rearing its ugly head.
Also crucial is to flare the feet at address. Flare the right foot about 45 degrees with the left foot square to the ball-target line. Turning the right foot outwards to the right allows you to increase shoulder turn on the backswing without a forced effort, facilitating swinging down and through the ball on a path that is from inside to out. The square left foot position encourages clubface rotation through the ball, minimizing the chances of delivering the clubhead to the ball with its face open.
4. Keep the left wrist flat and in line with the forearm at the top of the backswing. That allows the clubface to remain square to the back of the left hand, which is square to the left forearm, presenting a good chance of delivering the clubface squarely to the ball. A flat left wrist prevents the clubface from rotating too far, thereby obviating an open clubface position at impact.
5. Rotate the right forearm over the left through the ball. That way you can enjoy a square alignment of the clubface at impact.
An equally good way is to rotate your left elbow aggressively through impact.
6. Keep the head behind the ball throughout the swing. That facilitates putting an end to an open clubface through impact. It's not that bad to allow the head to slightly wobble backward to the right as you transfer bodyweight to the inside of the right foot on the backswing, but on the downswing you should not allow your head to move forward toward the target so it gets ahead of the ball.
Allowing the head to lead too much at the initial stage of the downswing makes it hard for the body to follow, robbing the arms and hands of the time to rotate sufficiently to close the clubface at impact.
7. Focus on finishing the swing with the hands high above the head. It's a simple swing thought but influences the entire move in your favour. Concentrating on a high finish prevents a slice-causing chicken wing position at impact. That also encourages the body to turn aggressively, allowing you to rotate the clubface through impact.
It also keeps the left shoulder above the right through impact, which is a must for an in-to-out swing path that encourages a straight shot or a draw.
8. Stop inverting the spine tilt either on the backswing or at the onset of a wild downswing. That forces you to hit down on the ball on too steep a plane with the left shoulder lower than the right, entailing a nasty banana ball. A revolutionary swing theory apart, it also spells an out-to-in swing path through the ball. When the clubhead approaches the ball from outside the ball-target line, you are left with no option but to pull it to the left or pull-slice it depending on the clubface alignment through impact.
It's vital to keep the left shoulder above the right at impact as it was at address. That ensures an upward blow and a proper in-to-out path, which is absolutely necessary to impart a high degree of backspin or draw on the ball.
9. Swing at a leisurely pace lest the body angles created at address should be damaged. Failure to retain the body angles ― the hip bend, knee flex and backbone tilt ― through impact triggers all sorts of dismal shots including slices. Don’t allow the right hip to jut out toward the ball-target line.
To swing at a more sedate pace you need to grip the club with light pressure, which encourages a full release of the club through impact, a requisite for straight shots.