Column: The psychology of the slice

In today’s column, Jennifer Greggain, the director of instruction at the Chilliwack Golf and Country, talks about why the slice happens.

  • Sun May 4th, 2014 8:00am
  • Sports

Most golfers have experienced the  dreaded slice at some point in their golf career. But what is the root cause of one of the most common faults  in the golf swing?

The most desperate slicers often turn to magazines and golf tip videos, most of which correctly state that the slicing curve is caused by an ‘out to in’ club path. Although this observation is correct, there is a deeper root cause at work.

The fact is, slicers do not understand how to square up the club face correctly. They have hit several shots with the club face open, and have observed the ball sailing to the right of their target.

From there, instinct sets in.

Human beings learn from a negative feedback loop. Meaning, if there is a result that doesn’t match with a pattern in the brain, the brain will adapt by making an adjustment.

In the case of the slice, the brain will instinctively tell the slicing golfer to aim and swing more to the left (for a right handed player), in order to prevent the ball going to the right. However, this adjustment will actually worsen the problem, and cause the ball to slice even more.

In the end, the golfer’s frustrations rise, and enjoyment of the game goes down.

So how does this golfer combat a slice?

Easy. First, this golfer must learn to square the club face correctly. Once the golfer is able to do this, and probably see the ball go left, the brain will naturally understand that it no longer needs to swing to the left, and the path will naturally stay on plane for straighter shots.

Easier said than done.

How does a golfer properly square up the club face?

This is a topic that has been discussed for decades, yet most golfers still hit slices. Some players try to square up the club face by ‘flipping’ or rotating their wrists through impact.

Again, this adjustment is not quite correct because it leads to a weak impact position with inconsistent contact. Golfers must learn to use their hands to square up the club face while still maintaining a strong impact position.

Try taking some half swings, feeling like your lead wrist is remaining ahead of the club head.

Square up the club face while rotating the knuckles of your lead wrist down to the ground. When done correctly,  you should see the club face square up while also hitting more consistently solid shots.

 

Jennifer teaches golf to adults and juniors at the Chilliwack Golf Academy.

She played professionally on tour for over 10 years, including 2 years on the LPGA. She was also named the 2010 CN Canadian Women’s Tour Low Teaching Pro of the Year, and is now the lead instructor of the Sardis Golf Academy.

She can be contacted at 604-798-9805 or at Jennifer@chilliwackgolf.com