Here at Tip of the Week world headquarters, reader-submitted questions are always welcome. In fact, they deserve preferential treatment. Reader Chad Davidson recently sent in the following plea for help:
“I am an average golfer who truly enjoys the game. I recently started playing again after 10 years. My problem now is I have a horrible slice. I have tried several drivers and different balls, but unless I aim 45 degrees to the left, I am not near a fairway. This affliction adds at least five strokes to each round. Any advice would be appreciated.”
Scott Allen, the head professional at George Wright Golf Course in Hyde Park, weighs in. He writes:
“I have the opportunity to see many versions of the golf swing, the most common being the slice that travels 200 yards, but only goes about 100 yards forward. The first step to controlling a slice is to identify what is causing it. I prefer to start by looking at the grip. Many times, golfers will hold the club in what is called a weak grip. To check this (for a righthanded golfer), start by placing your left hand on the club first. If your left hand is too weak, the butt end of the grip will be visible. This is an indication that the grip is too high in the palm of your hand. Slide the grip down into your fingers, and now close your hand around the grip. When you look down, your left hand will be more on top of the club. The first two knuckles of your left hand should be clearly visible when you look down at your grip.
“A weak grip causes golfers to break their wrist at impact, instead of hinging. Here’s a good way to see the difference. Make a fist and place your left forearm flat on a desk or table in front of you. With your thumb sticking out, pull it back toward you and then push it away from you. That is the proper hinging motion of the wrist during the golf swing. Now try lifting your knuckles off the table. This motion is called cupping, or breaking, your wrist angle. When this action happens at impact, the clubface stays open and causes the ball to slice.
“I have a favorite demonstration that helps my students feel the difference between a weak grip and a stronger grip. It’s called the Hammer Drill.
“Start by placing a nail into a wall, level with your chin. Now grip the hammer with your left hand the same way that you grip the golf club. Try to hammer the nail into the wall. With a weak grip you will find that you have no power to drive the nail into the wall. Now try gripping the hammer in your fingers. Your wrist will become much more flexible, and it will have the ability to hinge and unhinge. Hammering the nail into the wall becomes effortless. Hitting the golf ball with a stronger grip will also feel more effortless.
“The righthand grip also needs to be in the fingers, and not high into the palm. Try the Hammer Drill with the right hand. You will get the same results if your grip is too weak. When the right hand is gripping the club correctly, the line between your thumb and index finger should be angled toward your right shoulder. With a weak right hand, that line will be pointing toward your chin, or sometimes even further left. If that line falls below your right shoulder, your grip loses its ability to hinge also.
“The next lessons will be to check setup, posture, and swing paths.”