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          GOLF TIPS - Wednesday, July 23, 2008
 "Tips... News... And More... All For The Love Of The Game"

Fellow Duffers,

The most frequent request I get is for advice on how to cure a
slice. That's why I was happy to find the article below by
Mick Soli. He walks us through the causes and cures for whatever
bend our ball has. The best thing is that he helps us understand
the causes so that the cures make sense. After all, how can we
fix something when we don't understand the cause of it?

Read below and go straight!


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Hook, Draw, Slice or Fade…It’s Your Choice

The essential element in hitting each of these shots is the
angle of the clubface at impact and being aware of what that
angle is. What is the difference between a hook and a draw or
a slice and a fade?

The draw is a controlled hook, and the fade is a controlled
slice. Hooks and slices usually end up in the trees, the rough,
bunkers or out of bounds. Draws and fades stay in play, end
up in decent lies and from where you can put your next shot
on or very close to the green. Very few golfers hit the ball
dead straight, if only because they stand at the side of the
ball. Therefore, it’s important to know how to control the
curve on the flight of your shots.

The Clubface Angle Tells It All
The essential element in hitting each of these shots is the
angle of the clubface at impact. How can you tell when the
clubface is open, closed or square? First and foremost, you
must look at the flight of the ball. If it’s curving right
to left or goes straight left off the clubface, then the
clubface is closed at impact. If it’s curving sharply from
left to right or goes straight right of your target upon
impact, the clubface is open.

Getting A Read On The Clubface Angle
While the flight of the ball is the best way to determine the
clubface angle at impact, it’s important to know beforehand
if you want to alter it or accommodate for it. One tried-and-
true way is to make a backswing with a mirror directly behind
you and see for yourself. You can also have someone videotape
your completed backswing or record it with a digital camera.

Another way to check your clubface angle is by completing your
backswing and simply putting the clubhead back behind the ball
without uncocking your wrists or otherwise altering the angle.
You can also set up at address with the clubhead behind the
ball and have someone tell you if the clubface is open or
closed, or just hold it in position and walk around behind
to see for yourself. 

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Open, Closed Or Square?
There are two checkpoints in the backswing that you can use to
determine where the clubface is positioned. The first is
halfway back, when the club is parallel to the ground. If the
toe of the club is somewhat straight up (between 11 and 12
o’clock), the clubface is square. If the toe is behind the heel
and pointing behind you (10 o’clock or later), the clubface is
open. f the toe is ahead of the heel, pointing ahead of you
(3 o’clock or earlier), the clubface is closed.

The other position at which to check the clubface angle is at
the top of your backswing. The clubface is open when, at the
completion of the backswing, it is facing the ground to some
degree. The more it is open, the more the face is exposed to
the ground. Or, the toe of the club is pointing below your left
forearm. If the face is angled to the right of your target, it
is open.The clubface is closed when, at the completion of the
backswing, it is facing up toward the sky. Again, it is a matter
of degree. The more the face is looking up at the sky, the more
closed it is. Or, the toe is pointing above your left forearm.
Again, you can bring the club to the top and then place it back
behind the ball. If it’s aimed left of your target, it is
closed. The clubface is square when it is parallel to your left

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Turning A Hook Into A Draw
To learn how to control your hook and turn it into a nice draw,
there are a few changes to make. First, try working the
clubface a little open in the backswing. Some people call it
“fanning the blade open.” This involves rotating the forearms
counterclockwise in the backswing, which causes the toe of the
club to go straight up about midway in the backswing or when
your left arm is parallel to the ground.

The other change is to swing your club along the target line in
the downswing instead of swinging out toward right field, which
is the tendency of golfers who hook the ball. To swing down the
line, you need to increase your body rotation and reduce the
lateral or sliding motion of the legs. This should create a
squaring of the clubface through body motion, not the hands,
and thereby control the hook and produce a draw.

Turning A Slice Into A Fade
Contrary to conventional wisdom, coming over the top in the
downswing (and bringing the club across the target line from
outside to inside) is not the cause of a slice. It’s the effect
of an open clubface.

To use a baseball analogy, your mind is fixated on hitting the
golf ball to centerfield, but it keeps going to right field
So you swing the club toward left field and come over the 
top. But you’re going about it the wrong way. If the clubface
was square or closed, the ball would go down the left-field line.
However, the clubface is open, so it curves sharply from left
to right. To fix this, you must learn how to close or square the
clubface enough so you can control the flight of the ball, i.e.
less slice or a fade.

The first change to make is to create a strong grip position by
rotating the left hand clockwise at address so you see at least
two knuckles, and put your right hand on the side or somewhat
under the club. This will allow you to rotate the forearms
counterclockwise in the forward swing, thus creating less
slice spin.

Along with this adjustment, you may need to change the
“out-to-in” swing path that usually accompanies a slice to a
more inside attack. This can be accomplished with a slight
lateral “bump” (weight shift) of the lower body to start the
downswing. This is not an easy combination of moves to make,
partly because your brain does not want anything to do with 
“right field.” However, with proper practice and plenty of
patience, it will work. 

Playing From The Tees
Not enough golfers pay attention to where they play from the
tee. The natural inclination is to swing in accord with your
body alignment. Therefore, if you’re a slicer, you should set
up on the right side of the teebox to allow your eyes to see
a better route for your natural shot shape. Likewise, if you
hook the ball, you need to set up on the left side of the 

Also, if you want to hit a fade, tee the ball lower to the
ground than you would ordinarily. Tee it a bit higher if yo
are after a hook or draw.

Equipment design can help you modify your slice if you use
clubs with an offset head. This is common with irons, but you
can now get offset drivers.

Remember, for a draw, aim at second base and swing out toward
the second baseman. For a fade, aim at second base and swing
toward the shortstop.

Ideally, everyone should play with the clubface square at
address, at the top of the backswing and at impact. It is
most effective to start from that position at address, but
golfers have various idiosyncrasies in their swings that will
open or close the clubface in the backswing. The advice here
is to not so much change your swing, just the angle of the

Mick Soli teaches at The Golf Academy at Mariners Point in
Foster City, Calif. 

You can discuss this issue or any other topic in the new
Golf Tips forum. Check it out here...

Golf Tips Forum

Questions? Comments? Email us: mailto:sam@gophercentral.com
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