Arguably the most common fault among golfers, especially beginners, is the tendency to hit a slice off the tee and with fairway woods, hybrids and long irons. When a right-handed golfer hits a slice, the ball starts out more-or-less straight, or slightly left of straight, then turns sharply to the right. A slicing tee shot intended to go down the middle of the fairway can end up 30 yards or more to the right, almost certainly in the deep rough, the trees or out of bounds.
So it’s easy to understand how slicing the ball consistently can cause major frustration and ruin scores. The most common cause of slicing is uncoiling the upper body too soon at the start of the downswing, also called “coming over the top.” Coming over the top causes the club to move past the target line at the start of the downswing on an outside-to-inside swing path. Most right-handed slicers hit the ball with a swing path to the inside, or left, of the target. Instinctively they leave the clubface open so it’s square to the target at impact. The combination of the path and open clubface cut across the ball to impart the left-to-right sidespin that causes a slice. The problem is less pronounced with the higher-lofted clubs because the added loft neutralizes sidespin somewhat.
You can learn to play with a slice off the tee if you tee the ball up at the far right side of the tee box and aim toward the left edge of the fairway. The average fairway is about 30 yards wide. The ball should start out down the left side of the fairway, curve to the right and end up on the right side of the fairway, or at worst a few yards into the right rough. Ben Hogan consistently played a controlled fade (a left-to-right shot that curves less than a slice) in much the same way.
The majority of slicers want to straighten out their ball flight hoping for added distance and control as a result. Over-the-top slicers must learn to keep their upper body coiled as the weight shifts to the front foot at the beginning of the downswing. Keeping the upper body turned this way allows the club to move on a more inside path back to the ball on the downswing. At impact the face will be square to the target sending the ball straight toward the target. Past impact, the club moves back to the inside of the target line.
When practicing try lining up with the back foot farther away from the ball in what baseball players call a closed stance. That will help you turn back with the club on an inside path. More importantly it will help give you the feeling of staying turned as the downswing initiates and help keep the club on the correct inside path to impact. It’s almost impossible to come over the top from this closed stance. You should start seeing a straighter ball flight and hopefully an end to your slice.