Turn, Turn, Turn: For every swing there is a reason
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.