For most new golfers, the first frustration to overcome is usually how to make consistent contact with the ball. But once that's accomplished, it usually leads to a second, sometimes life-long frustration.
No matter what they do, every shot slices off to the right. And the harder they try to hit the ball straight, the worse it becomes. Forget shanks, chunks, tops and three-putts. Slicing the ball is perhaps the most common -- and aggravating -- malady most amateurs battle as they try to play the game.
10-MINUTE FIX: Hank Haney's tips to eliminate a slice
The farther left you aim, the more the ball seems to want to wind up going right. At some point, golfers with nasty slices either quit or eventually find professional help. As PGA Professional Charlie King puts it, "Thank goodness golf is hard, because that's why I have a job."
So what causes severe slicing, and why does it seem to affect beginning golfers and those who play infrequently?
King, the instructor of golf at Reynolds Kingdom of Golf at Reynolds Lake Oconee, said it usually stems from a misconception about the golf swing, and misapplication of logic.
"To hit a ball straight, instinctively it makes sense to go straight back and straight through," King said. "But golf's a tilted-over circle which we call a swing plane. So you have to swing on plane and square the face to make a ball go straight."
If you don't get back to square at impact, King said, bad things happen. And instead of knowing how to fix their slice, they usually make it worse by trying to overcompensate in the wrong direction.
"When they swing straight through, there's no rotation, the face stays open, and the ball starts going to the right," King said. "And then they start swinging out and across in an effort to try to get that ball to start left to make up for how much it's going to curve. And the more you swing left, the bigger the curve gets."
It's OK to hit a fade, King said. You don't have to draw the ball to score well, but you do have to get your swing on plane to be able to hit it consistently and effectively. Many top players have that as their go-to shot their entire careers, including Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and John Daly. But they also had the ability to draw the ball when necessary, too.
What amateurs desire is a repeatable swing that allows them to aim at -- and hit near -- the target on a consistent basis. And an "outside-in" swing robs you not only of direction but distance as well. It's an easy fix, and will remove a lot of the inherent frustration for beginning golfers.
Here's an excellent video by King describing the swing plane and what causes hooks and slices.
The more you understand why your swing is creating a slice, the closer you'll be to knowing how to fix it.
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