Golf balls don’t have a will of their own, isn’t that right? So the only logical explanation as to why in the world is the ball behaving as it is – meaning curving from the right to the left in flight – has a lot to do with how much you know about clubface orientation at impact.
Most not-so-seasoned golfers give shots like hooks, slices, etc. a bad name because they seem to understand nothing about ball flight. It may be a bit challenging to learn how to hit a hook shot, or not to hit one too, but it isn’t some insurmountable challenge once you get to know the basics.
Meaning of A ‘Hook’ In Golf – What Are Hooked Shots?
A shot that takes on quite a noticeable right-to-left trajectory, thus starting from the right side of the golfer and then curving toward the left during flight (or left-to-right in the case of a left-handed player).
Hooked shots can be both accidental and intentional. However, more often than not, a hook is the inevitable outcome of an off-center shot.
When the “hooked” ball flight is too severe, the shot is then called a snap or duck hook. These are the result of major mis-hits where the trajectory begins on a straight path before it drops too extreme toward the left.
What Are the Causes of Hooks In Golf?
If you’re finding yourself hitting too many uncontrolled or unintended hooks, it’s probably because of the closed clubface at impact. When the clubface is closed right at the point of impact with the golf ball, spin (right-to-left) is generated, which causes the ball flight to start on one side i.e. the right side, but then curve, in flight, to the left.
The following conditions are the primary causes of hooking the ball.
- Hands are not in the neutral grip.
- The clubface isn’t square at impact.
- Stance is closed with your feet, hips, and shoulders misaligned and not in a parallel position to your target line.
Why Learn to “Hook” the Golf Ball?
Learning to deliberately hook your shots makes you a better golfer in that you learn how to ace your swing. The golf swing sequence, no doubt, has an impact on ball flight (including its arc). Hence, working on and mastering your swing this way can eliminate any swing technique-related errors that seem to be messing with ball control.
And obviously, hooked shots are incredibly useful against interferences such as hanging branches, trees, and the like.
How to Intentionally Hook A Golf Shot?
Practice as much as you can and you’ll eventually be able to produce an accurate hooked shot that is well under control!
Make Sure Your Stance Is Closed
Place the right foot back by around 4 to 6 inches, or the left one if you’re a leftie. In the case of the former, you should be facing the right. This is indeed the ball flight’s starting point, but with the clubface closed on impact.
Make Sure the Clubface Is Closed Too!
To make this happen, grip the golf club normally and rotate it counter-clockwise, only slightly though. The clubhead then should be angled toward the left at impact, which is the perfect setting for creating ball spin to the left during flight.
Make Sure Your Grip Is Tight
If you want to prevent that clubface from opening up at impact, then tighten the grip just a little bit.
Moreover, because of the tighter grip, even your hands get through in a more dramatic manner on impact, thus producing greater side spin as well as a stronger trajectory.
Increase Clubhead Speed
Now, of course, boosting clubhead speed translates into gaining extra yardages and, not necessarily, leading to a hooked shot. However, when you know how to increase clubhead speed, you can use the same tactics to add more curve to your hooks – it’s all about forcing higher side spin rotation!
Check Angle of Attack and Loft Angle
The gap between your angle of attack and dynamic loft is what’s known as the spin loft. When this spin loft is higher, there’s greater vertical spin and reduced side spin curvature. On the other hand, lower spin loft equals less vertical spin and more ball-flight-curving side spin.
How to Fix A Hook In Golf?
It’s all about correcting the angle of the clubface through impact!
Your golf swing path is very important, there are no two ways about that. BUT the approach that seems more workable and easier involves starting with the clubface.
An incorrect swing path (in-to-out) itself is caused because of the clubface being closed at impact. So the root of the problem needs to be fixed first instead of focusing more on forcing the swing path to become squarer.
The clubface angle even with a change of about 2 to 5 degrees at impact is sure to make a huge difference, that too without you having to change anything about your swing form or technique!
So go ahead and swing like you normally do, but with that clubface twisting open by 5 degrees when you grip, and then just witness the transformation in ball flight.
A neutral grip will also cure a hook
Poor grip in the top hand, bottom hand, or both has proven to be detrimental in so many ways. Most importantly, it messes with the clubface angle during impact. To reap the amazing benefits of that 5-degree clubface change at impact, your hands and grip can start ‘strong,’ but they need to get back to neutral on impact.
Now it’s totally understandable why most of us hesitate to make any grip changes. After all, a change in grip does bring about a change in feedback too. And that, in turn, makes your golf swing seem awkward. Despite that, you have to go from a strong, hooking left-hand grip to a more neutral one to get the clubface angle to open up.
Prevents hooks through how you release
What if your grip is proper but you’re still ending up hooking the golf ball? In such a scenario, the cause could be the clubface flipping over, because your hands and arms are doing so, through impact. Not necessarily an indicator that you’re hitting wild shots, but pull-hooks, with the driver and also short irons, have a lot to do with your timing.
So here’s how to get that right
Likewise, when the body doesn’t rotate at impact, the same timing-related swing fault can stand in the way of stopping a hook. However, you can remedy this particular area of your swing as well with the help of some of the most effective golf swing drills.
Hit fade shots to fix your hooks
Did you know that one of the easiest ways to bring about a change in your golf swing for curing hooks is attempting to strike fade shots? A fade (or slice), after all, is the opposite of a hook where the ball flight acquires the opposite direction – left to right.
So how about you understand and learn all about how to hit a fade in golf?
Speaking of which…
How Is A ‘Hook’ Different From A ‘Draw’ or ‘Fade’?
A fade (also known as slice) is just like a hook, meaning a curved shot, but one that’s played from left to right, whereas hooked shots curve from right to left.
As for a draw shot, the ball flight direction is the same as a hooked shot except that the latter is intentional, more aggressive, and faster than the former. Hence, greater curvature in the golf ball arc is to be found in a hook.
Hook vs. Slice – What’s the Difference Here?
In both hooks and slices, the ball takes on a curved trajectory off the targeted flight path, right? So it’s not so uncommon to be confused about the two. And then, on top of that, the causes of hooking and slicing the golf ball are also pretty much the same – poor clubface angle control, meaning wrong clubface orientation at impact.
Regardless, there is a discernible difference between a hook and a slice. Hooked shots travel from right to left (or left-to-right if you’re a left-handed golfer) when in flight as a result of a closed clubface on impact. While slices are curved from the left to the right (right-to-left in the case of lefties). And the cause here – open clubface at the moment of impact.
However, you can end up slicing the golf ball because of a closed clubface too. Lucky for all of us, but mostly beginners and high handicappers, how to fix a slice is very easy. Whereas rectifying hooked shots requires you to check your wrist or upper body movement.
Are Hooks Better Than Slices?
What you’re asking is whether one mistake is better than the other. Neither is better or great! It’s just that a hooked shot is more aggressive, lower, and powered with more pace. Thus, it’s easier to predict or be aware of a hook.
What Affects the Start Direction of A Hooked Ball Flight?
It’s all about clubface orientation at the time of impact, that’s what determines, for the most part at least, the starting direction of your every shot. When the clubface is closed to your target, due to a major in-to-out swing path, it’s bound to point toward the right of that target at impact. Thus, creating a hooked ball flight!
Why Do I Hook My Golf Shots?
If you’re producing hooked shots intentionally, it’s primarily because you create a severe in-to-out swing direction, either that or out-to-right. When the clubface is closed to the intended path, the golf ball, by default, starts closer to that target line only to drastically curve toward the left.
Needless to say, even an accidental hook is caused by a closed clubface at impact. Because of several factors such as no body rotation, strong grip, and poor timing/connection between body and arms. Not getting the clubface to square on impact is the most common cause of hooking the ball.
Ben Hogan and Lee Trevino On Hooks In Golf
Early on in his professional career as a golfer, Ben Hogan – winner of nine major championships – was very troubled by the hooked shot. Over time, he obviously got rid of those unintentional hooks and came to be known as the one with a legendary golf swing.
Ben Hogan compared a hook to a rattlesnake in the pocket. “I hate a hook. It nauseates me. I could vomit when I see one.” Hogan’s very words!
Proving that fades or slices can be controlled but hooks are unintended, former PGA Tour player Lee Trevino says, “You can talk to a fade/slice but a hook won’t listen.”
It is indeed so much easier for renowned players like him to manage fades and slices where the ball flight goes from left to right (or right to left for a left-handed golfer) in comparison to dealing with a hooked trajectory. This includes struggling with unplanned hooks and those that you wish to hit on purpose.
On the other hand, there are less skilled or recreational golfers who seem to be more bothered about slicing the ball rather than hitting hooked shots (intentionally or otherwise).
The Bottom Line
What is a hooked shot? What are the causes of hooks in golf? They can be quite wretched if you’re not aware of how these types of shots work. That left-to-right or even right-to-left, ball flight is doing you and your scores no good, unless it’s a part of your plan to deliberately hook the golf ball.
On the whole though, chronic hooks, slices, and such kinds of wayward-flying shots take the ball off-course, which just means unnecessary strokes added to the scorecard. The great news, however, is that you can control them. For instance, to fix your unintentional hook, understand all about ball flight, bring about some swing changes, etc.