1. A good way to develop a wide and powerful backswing is to keep your left arm straight as you take the club back. But if your left arm is straight as you swing into your follow-through, it will lead to slices that would make a knife-wielding sushi chef proud. Why? The tension in your left arm keeps your right arm from naturally rotating over. As a result, the clubface will stay open instead of squaring at impact, and your shot will slice weakly to the right.
To fix this problem, allow your left arm to fold as you swing into your follow-through. To get a feel for this, make five half-speed practice swings with your driver using only your left hand. Grip the club just tightly enough to keep it from flying out and finish each swing with your left thumb pointing up and your left hand above your elbow. After the fifth practice swing, immediately tee up a ball and hit it, using both hands. Replicate the left-arm action of the drill and say “Sayonara” to your slice.
—Paul Marchand is director of instruction at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Richmond, Texas.
2. Golf is played from tee to green, and it’s also played from the ball back to your heels. At least, it should be. If you’re suffering from a big slice, you’re likely getting your club too far behind you on the backswing, then looping it way outside the target line on your downswing. Picture this zone as you address the ball, and make it your goal to keep the entire club within this zone all the way through your swing.
Here’s a drill to get the feeling of keeping your swing within this zone. Without a club, swing your left arm back and mimic a full swing. Your arm should angle across your chest and intersect at your right shoulder. You want a mirror image on the downswing, with your right arm angled across to your left shoulder. Incorporate this feeling into your swing and you’ll get, and stay, in the zone.
—Todd Anderson is director of instruction at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.
3. A slice is often the result of a swing that ends too abruptly, which prevents you from squaring the clubface in time. So one way to ditch your slice is to think about a perfect finish, right? Well, thinking is fine, but here’s a drill that will actually help you build a solid finish so you can hit more fairways.
• Use an 8-iron and tee the ball up. You’re not focused on distance here, even though this drill will help boost your power.
• Swing back to waist height — cocking the club up a bit — and then pull through to your left side as you try to make the shot go about 50 yards.
• Feel like you’re hitting the ball with your entire body.
In my lessons, I have students swing with this training device that blocks their hands going back. You can have a friend hold a club in the air at waist height so you can’t swing past it.
Your chest and belt buckle will face the target at the finish. As a slicer, chances are good that you’ve never rotated like this before. Repeat this exercise with 25 to 30 balls, until this “total body release” seems natural. Then take your driver out and enjoy making your slice history.
—Rick Barry is director of instruction at Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
4. If you come over the top and hit a big banana slice, your impact position needs some work. Forget about all the other parts of the swing for a bit, and just focus on this one moment of truth because a big slice means you don’t hit the ball consistently near your target, and that means you’re throwing away valuable strokes. Here is how to train your hands to square the clubface sooner. At first, you may start hitting hooks, which is fine. Then you can work on changing your outside-in swing path.
• Go into a practice bunker and draw a three-foot straight line in the sand.
• Without hitting balls, take a 6-iron and hover the club above the line, making that your address position.
• Take a swing — if you come over the top, you’ll bottom the club out behind the line and start the divot there. That’s an early release, in which your hands don’t rotate the clubface closed until it’s too late. You want the divot to start at the line and go forward, meaning the clubface lags behind and then catches up to the hands right at impact.
• Repeat the drill until you can make 10 divots in a row that start at the line.
—Mike Bender operates the Mike Bender Golf Academy at Timacuan Golf Club in Lake Mary, Fla.
5. Sometimes it seems that just when you thought you had corrected your slice, it comes back with a vengeance. Don’t despair — just head for the hills. Many driving ranges have mounds to the sides where you can hit shots with the ball above your feet. Bring your 6-iron, take an extra-strong left-hand grip, and hit practice balls perched on this hook lie. Swinging from the slopes will naturally flatten out your swing path and get the ball going left immediately. Then keep your grip in the same position and move to a flat lie. The hook you were hitting off the slope should be more of a draw and your slice with be a thing of the past.
—Craig Shankland teaches at LPGA International Golf Club in Daytona Beach, Fla.