YOU'RE CUTTING ACROSS THE BALLGolfers who fight a slice tend to twist their bodies to the left before they start back. That open position abbreviates the backswing turn, which gives the upper body a head start on the downswing. When the shoulders rotate open too fast coming down, the club moves out and away from the body, and that sets up an out-to-in swing (see photo). Result: pulls and slices.Here's a drill for fixing that. Tee up a ball, and take your normal setup with a driver. Then pull your right foot away from the target line about 12 inches so your stance line is aimed right of the target. Hit some balls, focusing on swinging your arms past your body through impact. The closed stance blocks your upper body from turning through, so the club drops onto an inside path to impact. Bye-bye, slice.
YOUR BACKSWING IS SHORTDon't be obsessed with swinging the club into a classic parallel-to-the-ground position at the top. A lot of golfers lack the flexibility to get there. Instead, focus on your turn and your rhythm. Stay smooth; don't feel like you have to jump at the ball on the downswing just because your swing is shorter. Let your speed build. You'll have plenty of time to hit it hard.As for your turn, focus on keeping your arms wide as you swing back. That will pull your shoulders into the biggest turn you can make. Maintaining a wide swing arc is more important than how far back the club goes. A short backswing with no turn won't work, but if you keep your arms wide and stay smooth, there's no reason you can't pound it.
YOU'RE FALLING BACK AT IMPACTOn iron shots, the instinct to help the ball into the air is very common. When you do that, you'll tend to hit the ball fat or catch it on the upswing and get it thin. The reason is, you're hitting off your back foot (see photo) instead of shifting your weight toward the target as you swing down.You have to understand that if you hit down at impact, the loft on the clubface will put the ball in the air. To learn how this works, focus on one of my favorite principles: Your weight should always move in the direction of the swing. When the club goes back, your weight goes back. When the club goes through, your weight goes through. As long as you keep moving toward the target, you'll hit down on the ball and send it up.
YOU'VE GOT A WEAK GRIPChanging your grip is one of the hardest things to do. It takes a ton of time to get comfortable, and it's tough to commit to a grip change when you play. So if you have a weak grip—with your hands more on top of the grip than turned away from the target—leave it alone. Provided you allow for it, you can play well with a weak grip.The problem is, your shots probably curve to the right because you're not squaring up the clubface at impact. But there's nothing wrong with an open face, as long as you make room for the ball to go right. You need to shift your alignment to the left. Keep the lines of your feet, hips and shoulders parallel to each other and just shift them so they're aimed well left of the target. Then swing in the same direction your body is aligned. The ball should start left and fade to the target.REPLACE YOUR LONG IRONSYou've heard this one before. But I'm going to keep saying it until I don't see any 3- and 4-irons in average players' bags. Hybrids are so much easier to hit solid and up in the air, it's crazy to keep struggling with long irons. Need another reason? Hybrids are great utility clubs to hit from different lies—rough, fairway bunkers, thin lies. There, that's the last time I'll say it. Until I see another 3-iron.
YOU'RE RUSHING DOWN FROM THE TOPThis is a big one for power-hungry golfers. They might make a nice swing off the ball, but they start the downswing with a violent move of the hands (see photo). They "throw" the club at the ball instead of letting their speed build as the body unwinds coming down. If you're a thrower, you release your wrists early and end up wasting speed too soon.To increase your power, try to swing your arms faster from the top all the way to the finish. That's a big difference from hitting with your hands. I'll never say you can swing slower and hit the ball farther—that's just not true. But arm speed, not quick hands, is the right way to move the club faster. Plus, you'll keep some stored power in your wrists for a burst of speed at the ball.
YOU DON'T TAKE A DIVOTIf you tend to pick the ball off the turf but you're hitting solid shots, stop thinking you need to take a big, honking divot. Sure, we see tour players ripping chunks out of the ground, but there are tons of examples of pros who don't take much divot at all. The big issue is, changing your swing path and your angle of attack is an overhaul—and you probably don't need it.One tweak you can make to prevent contact that's too thin is to move the ball back in your stance. I don't mean a lot: about the width of one ball. That'll get your chest more over the ball as you swing down so you hit it less on the bottom of the clubface and more in the center. But remember, you'll take a little thin over a little fat all day long.