(Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles by instructor Roger Gunn on diagnosing the causes of different types of ball flights or mishits. This article is written from the right-hander's perspective, so lefties should reverse any handedness or directional elements in the text below.)
Let's start by making sure you're clear on the type of impact that causes the slice. When the ball is slicing to the right, that means it's curving in a left-right motion across the sky. For the ball to do this, it must be spinning in a clockwise direction.
Imagine that the ball is on a peg, and that all it can do is spin one way or another. To spin the ball clockwise, the club has to swing more to the left with the clubface pointing slightly to the right. In a golf shot, this is exactly what happens to make the ball curve across the sky as a slice. This can often be confirmed by looking at the divot. On the course, the divot produced by a slice swing is often pointing well left with the ball ending up well right of the divot's direction. This is a classic slice.
Our discussion of the grip, stance, and swing will revolve around the different elements that can cause this type of impact.
Grips can be very individualized. A grip that produces a perfectly straight shot for one player can cause a huge hook or a slice for another. That being said, you can make certain generalizations about the grip regarding slicing.
If your hands are turned too far to the left on the club, it's much more likely to return with the face looking to the right at impact.
Here's the guideline: In your stance, with the clubface square to the target, you should be able to look down and see at least two knuckles on your left hand. If you see three or even four, that's fine. Your grip is not contributing to your slice. Another guideline is to look at the "V's" formed between the knuckle and thumb on both hands. These should point up to somewhere near your right shoulder.
It certainly seems logical that if a golfer is missing often to the right, then before too long he or she would aim more to the left to compensate. With slicers this is, in fact, the case. But aiming to the left will cause the swing's circle to be too far to the left, exacerbating the slicing motion.
Doublecheck that your aim is not too far to the left, especially with your shoulders. You can lay a club on the ground, parallel to your target line, to check your aim. Or you can have a friend check your alignment. Just make sure that your feet, knees, hips and shoulders are parallel to that club on the ground and to your target line.
Checking your stance and grip can often eradicate any slice without changing the hitting motion at all. Let the ball's flight be your guide. If it's curving less to the right, then you're on the right track. If it's flying straight or curving left, then your slice is cured.
Next Page: Checking the Backswing and Downswing