Last week we looked at How to Find a Lost Golf Ball – and let’s be honest… Most of the time, a lost ball is the result of a shot that didn’t go straight. Whether you’re hitting from the tee box or the fairway, if your club strikes the ball wrong, you can send your shot flying off left or right, potentially adding numerous strokes to your game in order to compensate and get back on the green. Besides getting to prevent your golf ball from flying off into the rough, learning to reduce hooks and slices will better your entire golf game.
It might seem daunting, but you absolutely can learn to hit almost every shot straight!
Slicing is a shot that curves right. It’s common in right-handed players. Hooks are the same thing for left-handed players. However, you can fall victim to one or both of them despite your dominant hand.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking hooks and slices are okay. Sure, you can use them to your advantage when playing a boomerang hole. Yes, you can compensate by angling far left or right so that your ball goes relatively “straight.” But those aren’t the best golf practices, and don’t represent skill.
Banish hooks and slices with these pointers:
SLOW YOUR SWING
Hooks and slices aren’t surprise phenomena that happen randomly. They happen as a result of an issue with your swing, grip, and posture.
You’ll never find out what’s wrong if you continue to hit balls at the range with every ounce of muscle in your back. Reduce the speed. Reduce the strength. Look at the swing.
Overpowering the golf ball can result in a bad shot because it affects the way you hold your club. Hitting down hard on the ball reduces the natural rotation of your wrists, which means the clubface doesn’t hit the ball at the correct angle. Cue hooks and slices.
To cure this, try leaving the ball off the driving range mat for a few shots. Raise your arms into their position and allow your arms to naturally fall and turn down across where your ball would be. Follow through completely. Notice the difference. Removing the ball can help minimize your desire to strike with fury and gusto, so that you can really work on your swing.
While you do want to allow your wrists to naturally rotate, you don’t want to make them rotate too much. That can result in the opposite problem.
To remedy this, work on finding the sweet spot in your stance for your golf ball. If your ball is too close to your body, your muscles will try to compensate to hit the ball. That will result in a slice. If your ball is too far away, you will have a hook.
To find your sweet spot, imagine you’re a grandfather clock. No, really! Hold your club, stand over your practice mat (without a ball), and tick-tock your arms back and forth. Grow comfortable in where your muscles want the club to go.
Widen your swing into a regular golf swing and try to follow the same path with your club. It will help if you try not to use any muscle, and simply allow the club to “drop” across the mat, where you can push it for the follow through. Let your muscles learn the feeling and become acquainted with where your ball should be in your stance, as well as how your shoulders and back will feel when you are hitting it comfortably and correctly.
HIT SHORT FIRST
Oftentimes, learning golfers try to use longer clubs before they are ready. They want to hit their drivers and their woods. They don’t want to keep hitting their 9-iron 30 billion times. But there is something to be said for starting with your short clubs and working your way up.
Next time you hit the range, follow the tips above, but restrict yourself to using a 9 or 7-iron. You could even use a pitching or sand wedge. It is very easy to see the spin on the ball when it lofts into the air.
“Master” hitting straight with that club, and then move on to the next one in line. Use your 5-iron and then your hybrids. Save your woods and driver for last. With each change in clubs, you can adjust your stance to fit the club length. If you practice as such, it will become second nature to stand the correct amount farther from the ball with the appropriate club.
Good luck – and get out there to start conquering those hooks and slices!