Check your grip to keep slice at bay
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
One of the most common problems amateur golfers suffer from is the banana shot. Given that a slice results from an open clubface at impact, the quickest way to prevent it is to square up the clubface. Here are some keys to ridding your game of bending shots. Once you learn to eradicate the dismal shots that veer off and disappear into deep rough or out of bounds on the right, it will be a cinch to reach your scoring goal.
What has to be done first to fix a slice is to grip the club properly. A proper grip is a prerequisite for every good shot. The hands are the only connection to the club. An inappropriate grip necessitates compensating movement during the swing, which is hard to do on a consistent basis. Worse yet, any compensating movement causes power and accuracy to go down the drain.
When the hands are placed on the club in a weak position, or rather turned too far to the left, the clubface returns to the ball open, which means a slice. For a straight shot you have to turn the clubface over as the club is striking the ball so the clubface is square or slightly closed through the impact area.
However, this is not easy to repeat with any consistency. Inconsistency is a critical fault that breeds lots of the inaccuracies of the shot as well as a loss of power.
The best way to free yourself of the undesirable compensating movement is to adopt a strong grip lest the clubface should stay open through the impact zone.
For an anti-slice grip rotate the left hand slightly to the right so the left thumb is positioned slightly to the right of the center of the handle with three knuckles visible. The right hand needs to also be turned to the right so its palm directly faces the left one.
It is as well to gradually turn your hands clockwise until the ball starts to curve to the left at the end of the flight, then rotate them counterclockwise little by little for the optimal hand position.
Incidentally, you can find invaluable information from wear and tear on the glove. A worn-out palm results from holding the club in the palm rather than properly holding it beneath the heel of the left hand. Holding the club in the palm inhibits wrist hinge, causing a loss of distance. It also hampers natural clubface rotation, bringing about a slice. To hit the ball far and straight you need to hold the club in your fingers with the heel of the left hand resting on top of the handle.
Another common sign showing that your grip is not correct is wear and tear on the left thumb. A big tear in the thumb is caused either by incorrect thumb placement or improper grip pressure between the thumb and the handle. With too much or too little grip pressure there, you cannot control the club properly during the swing, thereby falling victim to slicing.
To handle this problem, check if there is a gap between the thumb and forefinger. There shouldn't be. Pinch the thumb and forefinger together before holding the club. That ensures a more properly connected grip and greater control of the clubface.
A major requisite for better control of the club is a light grip. Too tight a pressure inhibits the natural rotation of the clubface through the ball. You need to loosen or soften the pressure in the hands, wrists, arms and shoulders to promote an effortless, automatic rotation of the forearms and clubface.
Imagine a scale running from zero to 10 with the 10 the tightest. The proper grip pressure for most shots would be three to four. Gripping tighter than this will propel you into a jerky motion, with a short, incomplete backswing thrust upon yourself, with the result being a slice.
A slice is also attributed to too vertical a swing plane. Swinging the club on too steep a plane tends to cause an out-to-in swing path and leaves the clubface open at the point of contact, which imparts left-to-right sidespin on the ball.
Not only to avoid too steep a swing plane, but also to encourage a natural squaring of the clubface it's essential to adopt a slightly stronger grip, which flattens the swing plane. A flatter or more rounded swing allows the clubhead to work on a more in-to-out path, encouraging the toe of the clubhead to rotate past the heel more easily through impact.
By the same token, a good way to square up the clubface at impact in a more aggressive fashion is to visualize yourself striking the ball with the toe of the clubhead. A slice occurs when the heel of the club comes first at impact, which means an open clubface.
Imagine the toe of the clubhead hitting the ball, and you will find yourself crossing the right forearm over the left through the ball without deliberate effort. That allows the clubface to return to the ball squarely or slightly closed to the target.