The dreaded slice. Perhaps the most common shot in golf, the slice is the shot that most players – regardless of ability – battle on a daily basis. Whether it be from the tee or the fairway, a slicing shot generally curves offline to the target and normally comes up short as well. What’s a player to do? He can change his alignment to play for the slice, but this is a band-aid solution that usually works for only a few holes. He can head to the lesson or practice tee to rework his swing, but that’s a time consuming and laborious process. Or he can check out some of the latest in golf club offerings in the local golf shop. Most of today’s clubs are designed with game improvement in mind. Some specific designs are aimed directly at curing the most common shot in golf – the dreaded slice.
There are several design elements found in both woods and irons that tend to help eliminate a slice. One of these – offset – is very evident when holding the club in address position. Offset is defined as the distance from the blade to the hosel. In other words, the more the head is “set back” away from the hosel, the more offset there is in the club. Offset helps to position a player’s hands forward as the club is swing; when a player’s hands are forward, the face tends to close, helping to eliminate a slice. The more offset in a club, the more it will help a slicer.
For those players trying to eliminate slices, look for clubs – and particularly drivers – with higher lofts. The higher the loft of a club, the more backspin imparted to the ball at impact. Backspin helps to counteract any negative sidespin that may be produced from a “slice swing.” While perhaps the higher-lofted club will not produce shots that are as long as those from a lower-lofted club, the shots will be much straighter. This accuracy will much more quickly translate in to lower scores than will hitting longer drives that fly longer but do not go as straight. Related to loft is the weight distribution design of a club. Slicers should look for a club with added weight toward the sole. This added weight tends to lower the center of gravity of the head. The lower CG will help create the effect of added loft for the player, further helping to eliminate a slice. Higher loft, lower CG clubs will promote accuracy those who fight a slice.
Another factor related to head design that may offer help to a slicer is flow weighting. Clubs that feature weight toward the heel of longer irons and woods and toward the toe of shorter irons may help the club face to rotate about the club’s center of gravity, effectively helping to close the face of lower-lofted clubs at impact. Most players do not slice higher-lofted clubs as much as lower-lofted models, thus the logic behind this type of weight distribution. To determine where the weight or CG is located on any club, simply take a look at it. Where most of the metal seems to be concentrated is where the center of gravity tends to be located.
Shafts play a huge role in positioning the club face accurately at impact. Being fitted for the proper shaft is a key element in both accuracy and distance. As a general rule, slicers should look for a shaft with more flex and torque than they are currently using. Added flex (a softer shaft) will have the effect of positioning the club face more in line with the target at impact. The player will not have to swing as hard to get the ball to fly straighter. Shaft torque has a major effect of the position of the club at impact as well. Torque is the amount of twisting that a shaft does during the swing. All shafts have torque. Steel shafts have less torque than do most graphite shafts. All steel shafts have in the neighborhood of 2 degrees of torque, while graphite can have less than 2 or more than 8 degrees. The higher the torque of a shaft, the more it twists during the swing. This twisting can actually help close the club face during the swing. A closed club face can only help to reduce a slice. Softer, higher-torque shafts are worth a look for those who slice the ball.
Grips deserve a mention as well. While it has been written many places that smaller grips will tend to promote added hand action and larger grips will tend to reduce hand action, reducing a slice by changing to a smaller grip most likely will not happen. A club with the proper grip size will improve consistency, which may reduce slicing, but do not look for major changes in ball flight when being fitted for grips.
Unfortunately, slicing is the ball flight patter that most of us face. By working with a fitting professional to determine the best mix of modern club design features, the slice can be reduced or perhaps even eliminated. The offset, loft, center of gravity and shafts on your current clubs could be a reason that you slice most of your shots. Don’t let your equipment contribute negatively to your shot patterns. Evaluate your current clubs and test hit some game improvement, slice-preventing models. You will be immediately rewarded with straighter shots and lower scores. Voila, your slice is gone!