Rabu, 18 April 2018

Countering a Push-Slice

Last week I did a post about Patrick Reed's driver swings. One of those swings was something Patrick calls a "slinger hook," which is just another name for a push-hook. That's when the ball starts on an in-to-out path -- that is, the clubhead swings out across your aimline -- and the ball then curves back across the aimline. It's a like a giant half-circle that swings around your body. If you aim correctly, the ball curves back toward the target.

In the comments I promised Phil I'd do a post about push-slices, those nasty shots that start out on an in-to-out path BUT continue to curve AWAY from you, rather than around you. The result is that no matter what you do, that ball ain't never gonna land near the target! For a righthander the ball ends up in the weeds on the right side of the course; for lefties, it's deep in the left rough.

The image below this paragraph shows the nine potential shot shapes you can hit if you're a rightie. Number 7 is Patrick's slinger hook, number 9 is the push-slice.

The nine shot shapes for righties

And the image below this paragraph shows the nine potential shot shapes you can hit if you're a leftie. In this case, number 3 is the slinger hook, number 1 is the push-slice.

The nine shot shapes for lefties

Now, the difference between the slinger hook which Patrick uses to great effect, and the push-slice which nobody gets any good out of, is the clubface angle.
  • In the slinger hook, the face is CLOSED relative to the path.
  • In the push-slice, the face is OPEN relative to the path.
Very simple, actually, and you would think it would be easy to fix. But that's not always the case. The cause can vary with each player.

The most obvious fix would be to take a stronger grip at address, and if you're doing everything else correctly during your swing, that would likely fix it. Too many players have other problems to say that for sure, though.
  • Believe it or not, something as simple as standing too far from the ball can cause you to push-slice. It creates an overly dramatic in-to-out swing that delays your clubface from closing on time.
  • Likewise, you can have your ball teed up too far back in your stance. You won't have enough time to square the clubface before it reaches the ball.
  • Some players slide their hips too far forward (toward the target) during their downswing, causing them to lean backwards at impact. That square clubface you had at address is now open because you tilted your shoulders back and opened them. But players with overactive hands sometimes flip the club and create a HUGE slinger hook that goes deep into the opposite trees. this is sometimes called "getting stuck."
  • You have no doubt heard that good players reroute the club on the way down and flatten their swing plane. That does happen for many players. But one problem instructors sometimes overlook is that you can flatten your club plane too much -- called "laying it off" -- and open the clubface on the way down. If you make a strong hip drive on the way down, you can end up lifting your trailing elbow while your hands drop down. I know about this problem firsthand; it took me months to track it down, and during that time I hit the ball both ways -- push-slices and pull-hooks. It's a nasty problem!
  • And you can simply swing your arms out too far from your body during your downswing. Specifically, your lead arm gets farther from your body than it was at address.
Each of these has a solution, of course.
  • If you're standing too far from the ball, just stand a little closer.
  • If the ball is too far back in your stance, move it a little more forward.
  • If you slide too far forward, think "down" instead of "slide" to start your downswing. The basketball drill is a great way to work on this. I periodically remind folks of this drill. You can find the basketball drill in this post.
  • If you flatten your swing too much as you start down, the basketball drill is also good for this one. Since it eliminates some of the forward slide, it also redirects your leg drive more "into the ground."
  • And if you're swinging too much in-to-out, you can use the old "glove under lead arm" drill. There are a number of similar drills, all of them concerned with connection. Some use a glove or towel held under your lead arm during your swing. And here's a post with a video of Ben Hogan's connection drill, which teaches connection with both arms.
Those are simple ways to eliminate problems that can cause an open clubface. And if they don't cure the problem, then and only then should you consider strengthening your grip. It's too easy to twist your shoulders open when you strengthen your grip, so you don't want to make big changes there.

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