What Is a Banana Ball?

By M.L. Rose

A banana ball is not a soft, yellow golf ball. Rather, it’s a sliced shot that follows a curving path, similar to a banana’s shape, and flies far to the right (for a right-handed golfer). A banana ball is the result of side spin imparted at impact, due to a misaligned club face or an outside-in swing path -- or both.

Close the Club Face

To fix a slice caused by an open club face at impact, simply use a stronger grip, which closes the club face at address. Golf instructor David Leadbetter advises a golfer suffering from a slice to hold a club in front of his body with the toe pointed directly up, in the 12 o'clock position. Rotate the club so the toe points a bit to your left, equivalent to the 11 o'clock position, then grip the club. Take note of your hand position on the club, and use that grip when you address the ball.

Swing Inside-Out

To correct a faulty swing path that’s causing you to slice, PGA pro Rick Smith suggests a practice drill that doesn’t require you to hit a ball. Set up in your normal stance, then picture an imaginary line running between your feet. Place a shaft or a stake in the ground along that line, about 5 yards to the right of your right foot (for a right-handed player). Return to your starting position and swing the club, but keep an eye on the stake. Make sure the club starts just outside the stake on the backswing, but moves inside the stake on the downswing.

Turn a Slice into a Fade

While no golfer wants to hit a banana ball that veers sharply to the right, a controlled left-to-right shot -- known as a fade -- can be effective. All-time golf great Jack Nicklaus says your swing must focus on the arms, with very little wrist action, to hit a fade. Make sure your left side is firm as you strike the ball, with your right hand directed straight at the target through the impact zone, leading to a high, upright follow-through.

Play a Draw

A draw is the opposite of a fade; it's a controlled right-to-left shot. Golf teacher Shawn Humphries says golfers should practice swinging inside-out by making sure the top of the grip is pointed to the right of the target line at about the midpoint of the downswing. After moving through the impact zone, make sure the club head also moves to the target’s right as you begin to follow through.

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

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