I think it’s a toss-up as to what people most frequently request when they want help with their golf game. Sure, there’s always the “I want to hit it longer, straighter, more consistently, higher/lower” wish list, but these are almost always tied into the same set of fundamentals, so if we fix one of the problems we have usually taken care of the other problems, as well.
But, I believe the thing that bothers people most is the ‘Slice’. Some golfers don’t even like a beautiful little fade because somewhere the idea was started that anything that turns right is bad. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “Good players draw the ball and bad players fade/slice it”. Let’s not forget a couple of guys named Nicklaus and Trevino, who both did pretty good playing left to right shots.
Most golfer’s ‘Slice’ happens because they are holding the club too tightly and not allowing the hands to release properly. Remember, tight goes right! To avoid this, I recommend you soften your grip pressure for the downswing. This is what I refer to as ‘Soft Hands’. This is not natural, but tell me what works in golf that IS natural?
When you hold the club too tightly, the swing will finish with your thumbs pointed to the right of your target line (much like Arnold Palmer did, but he was trying to avoid his nemesis which was a hard hook). If you’re tired of hitting those weak pop-ups to the right, try finishing your swing with your thumbs pointing to the left.
One thing that causes the hands to not release is the arms, and most everything else gets out of sequence because we are creating tension to hit the ball. The arms need to stay close to the body and to avoid the slice the left arm in particular needs to stay close through impact and well into the follow through. Remember, release tension to hit the ball, don’t create tension.
Now, I have to give my “disclaimer” on all of this. Aside from soft hands, the other methods I mention above are primarily for use on the practice tee to help get the feel of the hands turning over through the ball. I do know players that successfully use these techniques when they play.
I am always hesitant to recommend anyone intentionally doing anything mechanical with their hand action. This can lead to shots going anywhere from the normal ‘Slice’ to Arnie’s snap hook, which means now you really have no idea where the ball is going. But, for many people it does work.
I adamantly believe the hands will work perfectly on their own – you don’t have to make them do anything. I’ve written about ‘Soft Hands’ before and the importance they have in the golf swing. If you missed it, let me know and I’ll gladly send it to you.
Hopefully, if you struggle with the ‘Slice’ these ideas will help you feel a more natural release of the hands. But, the best way to learn to release you hands and the club properly is to get together with your PGA Professional.
Kim Anders is a PGA Professional residing in Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at email@example.com.