It is possible to fix a slice. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t obvious. But you can do it, and you can learn how to do it, and if you try hard enough you will get better at it. And if the ball is the right sort of ball — the sort that can be made more like a slice by applying some jerkish side-to-side force to the shaft — then in principle it should be possible to make any game of golf as easy or easier than anyone with a normal game would expect.
For example, instead of hitting from one of those weird oversize clubs that looks like a baseball bat with a hockey stick taped to the end, you could hit from something about ten centimeters wide, about as thick as your index finger, and about ten kilograms heavy. You would just swing it around like a bat — and if that didn’t work out for some reason, you could always switch off the bat mode and swap in an axe or a hammer or whatever it took to make the ball go where you wanted.
You could have the best golfer in history playing big shots golf.
I know all the mechanics of a good golf swing; I have written two books on it. But there is one thing I still don’t understand: how to fix a slice.
I am not alone. A survey of professional golfers found that only 16 percent of them could hit a straight ball. What about the other 84 percent? They are all hitting slices.
In golf, a slice is a shot that goes left instead of right. The ball doesn’t hit the turf and curve to the left, it just stays on the ground and curves toward the left. It’s a great way to chip up your drive and make it go over the bunker. But you can have trouble with a slice in other ways too.
The problem can be fixed by learning how to control your swing through the ball’s spin period. If you fix your slice by focusing on putting spin on the ball at the right time, and if you learn how to hit a downswing that puts more spin on the ball than your downswing normally does, then your slice will disappear.
If you’re hitting a downswing that doesn’t put enough spin on the ball – say because you didn’t anticipate too much of it – then you’ll have to sort of duck your head to get more spin, or hit lower and use less backspin, or do some other trick in order to get enough backspin for an accurate shot.
When I was a kid, my dad played golf with some of his colleagues. One guy had a long swing, and he would slice the ball into the woods. My dad used to say that he was trying to hit it so hard that it wouldn’t go into the woods.
I don’t know if he ever actually did it. The point is that if you have a problem sticking the ball in the hole, why not try hitting so hard that it won’t go into the hole?
This is just a hole in one
The biggest problem with the golf swing is not the part you do when you are swinging. It is all the other stuff you think you are doing. In fact, most of it isn’t even connected to swinging the club. You are probably thinking about things like the bad guy in the fairway who has been teeing off on your drive or his friend who will be stopping by for a drink and giving you grief, or that this person at work who is forever looking at you, or that person at home who is too bossy, or that person across town at the country club, or that male member of your family who just won’t go away.
The only thing that has anything to do with swinging a golf club is keeping your head still and making sure your hands stay inside the ball at impact. That part is easy; you don’t have to think about it. But everything else distracts you from what you want to do: hit it straight. Stupid thoughts make it harder to hit straight.
Work on your swing until it works better than all those useless thoughts can mess it up.
Top ten golfers are very good judges of what works and what doesn’t. They have a huge advantage over the rest of us because they can practice their skills against the clock, knowing exactly how long it will take them to get to the green or putt. It is hard enough for other people to keep track of how long it takes them to hit a shot or chip a ball. The top pros have it easy.
Which brings us back to our golfing friends: so far we’ve been talking about high handicappers, or those who are better than 100 on a scale of 130. But most golfers are not that good: the top pro players are all in the 90s and even worse, and it’s not just because they’re all very fit and good at practice sessions: they simply know more about what works and what doesn’t.
The lesson here is that if you want to become a top player, you need to be as knowledgeable as your betters.