Golfing is a great sport because it can be played by people of all ages and gets you outdoors for exercise and social interaction with friends and business colleagues. But it can also be a frustrating game because of the difficulty of hitting that little white ball with any degree of consistency.
One of the most frustrating problems most golfers face is the tendency to "slice" the ball. Usually the slice develops after the beginning golfer has started to hit the ball reasonably well and a fairly good distance. That's when the dreaded slice rears its ugly head.
Slicing happens when a right handed golfer hits the ball so it has a horrible curve to the right, or a left handed golfer hits it so it curves to the left. As any reasonably knowledgeable golfer will tell you, the slice is the result of "coming across" the ball with an "outside in" swing. As the club sweeps across the ball, the club strikes the ball in a slightly "open" position. This action puts sidespin on the ball and as it moves through the air it curves to the right (or left for a lefty).
Exactly the same thing happens in baseball when a right handed batter hits the ball down the right field line or a left handed batter hits it down the left field line. The ball curves away from the field towards the foul line. This slicing action also happens in other sports where a bat or racquet is used to strike a ball - sports such as tennis, ping pong, racquet ball, and cricket. And even in sports where simply throwing the "ball" with clockwise sidespin makes it curve to the right - think of bowling, lawn bowling and curling for example.
In many sports curving the ball like this is an important part of the game. Ping pong and tennis players, for instance, want the ball to curve as it approaches their opponent and then bounce off the paddle or racquet at an odd angle making it more difficult for the opponent to control the return.
But in golf a slice is almost always a negative thing the golfer wants to get rid of. That's because a slicing shot doesn't go as far because of the energy lost by the spinning, curving ball. The result is even worse in windy conditions where the increased wind resistance exaggerates the effects of sidespin. A slicing ball hit into a stiff breeze will often "balloon" up into the wind and almost appear to be coming back towards the golfer.
In spite of all the magical cures touted in magazine articles and golf videos, the only way to cure a slice is to learn to hit the ball correctly - with a square club face that is moving on a natural arc from slightly inside the line of flight.
It takes most golfers years and thousands of practice shots to learn how to do this. That's because there is such a natural tendency to begin the swing by throwing the shoulders out at the ball. That gets the clubhead out there on the wrong side of the target line of flight - on the "outside" - and the only way to actually hit the ball from that position is to bring the clubhead back inside at an angle to the intended line of flight. That's what is meant by "coming across" the ball.
Most beginning golfers have a difficult time understanding and visualizing this process. They think they are swinging on a perfectly square line straight through the ball and down the intended line of flight. But an experienced golfer who has already learned all about slices from his own struggles with the game can usually tell an inside out swing from 50 or 100 yards away without even watching the clubhead at all. There are certain moves that are so typical of a slice that they can be picked up almost immediately by an experienced observer.
That is why a golf simulator can be such a valuable tool in the struggle to overcome a slice. You may have noticed commercial locations that offer virtual rounds of golf, or facilities in some of the larger golf equipment chains that have an area that allows the buyer to try out golf clubs before making an expensive purchase.
Most golfers go to an indoor driving range or a virtual golf location and just bang away at the simulator as if they were out on the range pounding out drivers. But the fact is, a really good golf simulator can do much more than just tell you how far you have hit the ball. It can be a great tool to show you the exact shape of your swing and tell you exactly why you are slicing or hooking the ball.
Equipped with sensors, cameras, and a big-screen display, the golf simulator translates the details of a golf swing to ball motion on the display. Once the data on your particular swing is collected, you can view the results on a display. You can see an accurate representation of your swing, the actual flight path of your ball, your club face angle at impact, and exactly where and when the ball begins to turn, given all the variables that went into a particular swing. Most of the better units allow you to hit an untethered ball, and virtually play golf courses from all over the world
If you are serious about curing your slice, there is no doubt that taking a analytical, objective look at your actual swing is the place to start. And there is no more effective way to get that kind of swing analysis than with a golf simulator.
There are now even high quality units that you can set up right in your home. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars at an indoor driving range or virtual golf facility for an hour or two of practice every week, you can have your own quality golf simulator right in your rec room, basement or garage.
A good home system will let you work on your game for hours and hours till you groove the correct swing path. It will give you all the analytical tools you need to improve your swing. The better units will tell you your clubhead speed, your clubface angle at impact, your clubhead's angle of approach to the ball, and how far the ball would have gone out on a real golf course.
Of course the technology cannot simulate the foul weather, wild winds, and rugged terrain that come into play on a real golf course. But perhaps these are factors that you can do without when you simply want to concentrate on grooving a new more effective swing.
The proponents of this exciting new technology claim that for a committed student of the game, such a device can correct errors in swing mechanics better than traditional techniques or even lessons from a professional teacher.
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