Slicing and hooking are nothing more than club face (in relation) to swing path issues. If the golf club is coming from inside and the club face is aimed at the target at impact, the golf ball will have left axis tilt, or hook spin. If the club is coming from outside and the face is aimed at the target at impact, the golf ball will have right axis tilt, or slice spin. This is assuming that you make contact in the center of the face, however. Heel hits and toe hits are a different matter entirely.

Many golfers tackle the problem of errant shots by attempting to change the angle of the club face at impact — they take a stronger grip or weaker grip, or they try to change their release. And there’s no question that you need a good grip to play good golf. But changing your grip will only change the angle of the club face at impact. Since physics shows that the club face is responsible for 75-85 percent of the initial direction of the golf ball, changing your grip will only impact the starting direction of the ball, not the curve of the ball. If you want a change in spin axis, you must change the face-to-path relationship.

You are probably asking yourself, “Ok DC, how do we do that? ” Let’s take a look at it in some detail.

An arc, by definition, is a curve. The correct swing arc for the club head is from the inside, to the ball, and back to the inside. (Note: For a right-handed golf, coming from the inside means approaching the ball from the side where he or she stands in relation to the ball). There is a small flat spot at the bottom of the swing, but the club head travels largely on a curve.

Now, to assist you in creating this curve, your body will need to rotate during the swing. The torso turns away from the target in the backswing and toward the target in the downswing. In other words, your backswing turn assists in creating room for you to swing from the inside.  And your downswing turn assists in creating room to swing BACK to the inside.  Notice I said “assist” because it is not a law that the arm swing follows the turning of the body. But it does create room to allow this to happen.

How can this help you with hooking or slicing?

If the club is traveling too much from outside, you need more BACKSWING turn to give you more room to swing from the inside. And if the golf club is traveling too much from the inside (hooking) you need more DOWNSWING turn to give you more room to swing from the outside, or at least straighter into the golf ball. So think “turn away” if you’re slicing and “turn through” if you’re hooking.

This also helps better players fade and draw the golf ball; draws and fades are milder versions of hooks and slices where the face-to-path ratio is reduced. I have my tournament players think maximum turn back, minimum turn through on draws and minimum turn back and maximum turn through on fades.  Again, it reduces or increases the amount of inside, straight or outside path room available. Again this is not a guarantee that the turn assures the path in or out but it does help. Of course, sequencing also plays a big part in swing path; some players turn back well, but open the upper body too soon coming down. This, in effect, defeats the purpose of the turn in the first place.

The only long-term cure for a slice or a hook is a change in the face-to-path relationship.  Focusing on the proper rotation can help in this.

Note: If you read my article “Golf is a Reaction Game” you will remember I said that in order to change your swing habits you need to change your ball flight. And this is where a grip or release change can help. By starting the ball more right or left, you can learn to create a better swing path in due course. But the face is a temporary fix, not a permanent solution. That is what is so invaluable about Doppler radar golf ball tracking systems like Trackman and Flightscope. We know the exact the face-to-path ratio. The only thing left to do is hit it in the center. But that’s another lesson.

As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.

Click here for more discussion in the “Instruction & Academy” forum. 

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional and an advanced certified instructor. He has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a 7-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions:

-- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA
-- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal
-- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine
-- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest
-- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf
-- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members)
-- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA
-- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA
-- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf
-- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA
-- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors

Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf
Academy at the Marco Island Marriott in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

6 COMMENTS

  1. I have a terrible swing. All upper body, all arms. No control. I absolutely have “the big banana” shot.

    This article was the first thing that actually made sense to me and worked at the range. First time trying this I was 50-50 between shots at my target and pulls, BUT the ball flight completely changed. This produced a more piercing trajectory with rollout rather than my normal extreme side spin.

    Thank you! Like Austin said, if you make it out to the SF Bay Area I owe you a meal of your choice!

  2. Read this article and decided to try it out on the range. Helped so much! I instantly could move it both ways and hit the ball so solid. So excited to see how it continues to help! Thanks!!

  3. Dennis, Thanks for this tip! This is one of the best for immediate results. I took this to the course and it works. I hit 11 of 14 fairways when I have been hitting about 3-4 for 14. Had a ton of birdie putts and was working the ball both ways with your help! Thanks so much! If you are ever in Nashville I owe you lunch/dinner! Thanks again.

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