Part of the challenge of golf, and what makes the game so darn frustrating for so many players, is hitting the ball and getting it to go where you intended and the distance you wanted or needed on the golf course. The number of things that can go wrong in that second is more than you can imagine, which is why even the best golfers in the world constantly tinker with their swings, work relentlessly with coaches and still have days where it doesn’t quite come together.
For the amateur golfer, bad days with their swing look a whole lot worse, obviously. Two of the primary problems casual golfers struggle with are slices and hooks. The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay took a look at a slice and supplied some tips to avoid a slice, but what about the dreaded hook? Perhaps as many people don’t suffer from a habitual hook as a slice, but it is still an issue that plagues plenty of players, potentially keeping them from obtaining a strong handicap — and maybe even scratch golf!
So today’s post will focus on hook shots, what causes a hook out on the golf course and some tips for avoiding and correcting a hook from your game. You’ll want to get that hook straightened out before reaching out to Insight Homes today to join this exclusive golf community right on the beautiful shoreline of the Indian River Bay, featuring a magnificent and award-winning Jack Nicklaus designed golf course!
What is a Hook?
In order to even begin looking at correcting a hook golf shot, it’s first important to get on the same page and define what a hook is. For a right-handed golfer, a hook shot is one that starts to the right of the intended target and curves aggressively from right to left through the air, finishing well left of the intended target. So, essentially, a hook is the opposite, exaggerated ball flight to a slice, which goes from left to right.
- A hook shot (for a right-handed golfer) starts right of the target and aggressively curves from right to left, landing well left of the intended target
- Hook shots take the exact opposite ball flight of a slice (for right-handed players)
- Pull-hook shots start left of the target and aggressively curve from right to left and finish well left of the intended target
A variant of a hook shot, although just as frustrating on the golf course, is a pull-hook. A pull-hook is where a player strikes the ball and it starts left of the target and then continues to curve aggressively from right to left, finishing well left of the intended target. The two types of hooks are very similar in many ways but are actually two different errant shots that are often misdiagnosed by amateur players.
What Causes a Hook?
Like any golf swing and issues with errant shots, there are several factors at play causing the shot, and a hook is no different. Diagnosing the exact reason you hit a hook can likely only be pinpointed under the watchful eye of a club pro or swing instructor, but the following are the most common causes of a hook. Chances are, you’re doing one or multiple of these things, which can be corrected as you’ll see a little later!
- Several factors can lead to a hooked golf shot, many often happening at the same time
- The only way to pinpoint your exact issues is to see a club pro or swing instructor, but you’re likely doing one of three common mistakes
- Whatever specific issues are causing your hook, whether it be an inside-out club path, closed clubface or poor grip, can be corrected
Inside-Out Club Path
The common denominator in any hook or slice is the spin of the ball. Sidespin can be generated in several ways, but one of the common causes for sidespin and a resulting hook is an inside-out swing. Hooks create counterclockwise spin on the ball, which is the way it shapes from right to left. When your swing starts inside (on the backswing), your hands tend to “push” the club back away from your body (on the downswing), causing the clubface to strike the ball from inside-out, generating counterclockwise spin. So, because the clubface is striking the ball from the inside-out, the ball starts right of the target, the spin takes hold in the air and the ball aggressively curves right to left and lands well left of the intended target.
A closed clubface on a hook can seem counterintuitive and difficult to understand at first. If the clubface is closed, how am I hitting the ball right? This is usually because a closed clubface combines with an inside-out swing. For a ball to have lots of sidespin, the clubface is anything but square at impact. As you take your swing back, the clubface is closed relative to the club path through the backswing and downswing, but the clubface then opens at impact. The only way this happens is from an inside-out swing because your hands are naturally reacting to the feeling of taking the swing back severely inside and “pushing” away from your body. It’s important to remember that an inside-out swing path contributes to a hook, but the clubface angle at impact is far and away the No. 1 factor as to where your ball starts out and ends up.
A poor grip is so often a great place to start when diagnosing the cause of any errant golf shot. While the grip seems like a simple enough thing, it can have a multitude of rippling effects throughout your swing. A poor grip can involve the top hand, bottom hand or even both. The key with a sound grip is for it to allow your hands to return to their starting position at address by the time you impact the ball. There are too many grip issues to explain here, but here’s a nice video example to help improve your grip.
Tips to Stop Hooking the Ball
So you now have a much firmer understanding of what a hook golf shot is and the primary causes of a hook shot. But you’re probably wondering now, how do I correct and rid myself of that dreaded hook? Well, as you might have guessed, you’ll need to do things that correct the issues mentioned above. However, identifying the problem is the first and necessary step to fixing any issue, so that understanding will greatly impact your ability to fix your hook!
- Avoiding and correct a hook golf shot comes down to fixing the issues that caused it in the first place
- Understanding why you are hooking your shots will go a long way in identifying ways in which to correct it
- Practice is going to be the only truly effective way to cure a hook, not trying to fix it in the middle of your round out on the golf course
Square the Clubface
As you’ve probably (hopefully!) gathered from earlier, the angle of your clubface at impact is without question the No. 1 factor causing you to hook the ball and should be your primary focus when it comes to correcting it. The reason professional golfers and shape their shots for a draw (which is the controlled, intended version of your hook) is because they maintain an inside-out swing but obtain a square clubface at impact. Just a 2-5 degree change in the clubface angle at impact can correct your hook and is much easier to adjust that completely reworking your swing plane. Focus on keeping a square clubface at address and maintain that through the swing to keep it square at impact. Minor adjustments can be made at address if you can’t keep it square all the way through. On the range, open the clubface a few degrees and take your normal swing until you consistently find a square impact and resulting on-target draw!
Change Your Grip
This can be another simple area to correct your hook. Most players who hook the ball have a grip that is too strong, so try moving to a slightly weaker grip. A strong grip can cause the clubface to close relative to the swing path, so softening the grip can help alleviate that and assist you returning to a square clubface at impact. Ideally, you should see two knuckles on your left hand at address.
Work On Your Release
If your grip is solid and a hook persists, you’ll want to focus on your release through the impact of the ball. Your arms and hands are likely flipping the clubface over through impact, creating that significant counterclockwise spin. If your follow-through sees your hands and clubface crossed over and pointing almost toward the ground, you’re creating tons of sidespin. Focus on correcting your follow-through so your hands and arms are in their original position and the clubface is pointing up toward the sky.
Square Your Stance
Of the many tips for beginning to casual golfers, setup and alignment rank near the very top. A poor set up or alignment can lead to a host of issues, a hook being one of them. Most golfers who hook the ball tend to have a closed stance. Move to a squared stance at address to reduce the effects and causes of a severe inside-out swing path. You want your feet to create a line parallel to that of the ball and the target. Think of it like rails on a train track.
Finally, you simply have to practice. Many of the tips above can be accomplished rather quickly and easily, but you still need to take the time to dial it in and feel comfortable with the corrections so that they become habit and muscle memory. Trying to fix a hook on the golf course presents too much pressure and frustration, which will only make you fall into bad habits or develop new, potentially worse ones.
Correcting a hook takes time, practice and patience. Having the ability to play and practice every day is a fantastic way toward improving your golf game quickly. To take advantage of the beautiful golf course here at The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay, contact Insight Homes today to purchase or build your own home and play the course whenever you want!