What is a golf hook and how do you fix it? There are many terms for different shots in golf–slice, hook, cut, fade, draw, top, fan, blade, fat, thin–the list goes on. Among the most common “misses” in golf are the “hook” and the “slice.” Both of these terms are general descriptions of shots that have an unintended, and usually sharp, curve to either the right or left of your target.
So, what is a golf hook? For a right-handed golfer, a “hook” is a shot that starts out either on line or to the right of the target, but sharply curves to the left. For a left-handed golfer, the shot starts out on line or to the left of the target, and curves to the right.
Keep reading, because we tell you what a golf hook is, what causes a player to hook the ball, and some general ideas you can try to remedy this particular miss.
A hook is almost always an unintended curve, as opposed to a draw, which is an intended, and more gradual, curve of the ball to fit the shape of the fairway, avoid a tree, or attack a pin from the best angle. A hook is also different than a “pull,” which is essentially a straight shot that started out left of the target (or to the right of the target for a left-handed golfer) and never curved back to the right.
What Causes a Golf Hook?
For a right-handed golfer, a hook is caused by excessive right-to-left spin on the ball.
To better understand what causes this type of spin, think about the perfectly straight shot–your feet are lined up square, your club face is lined up square to the ball and pointed at your target. This is a fundamental golf course terminology that every golfer needs to understand.
Your backswing and follow-through keep the club face on target, and it impacts the ball squarely and pointed at the target. This square impact on a straight swing path will prevent sideways spin on the ball (in either direction) and keep the ball straight.
A hook occurs when there is no harmony between the squareness of the club face at impact, and the straightness of the swing path through impact. The right-to-left spin that causes a hook is most commonly caused by either 1) a straight swing path toward your target or a swing path to the right of the target and a closed or left-facing club face, or 2) a square club face but a swing path out to the right of the target.
Either of these scenarios puts right-to-left spin on the ball and causes the ball to start out straight or right (depending on the swing path at impact) and hook to the left.
A number of different swing issues can cause the club face to turn too much inside (i.e., point to the left, or “close”), which, even if you swing perfectly straight through impact, will cause the ball to hook.
Likewise, a number of issues can cause the errant swing path to the right, which can exaggerate a hook’s curvature.
We’ll look at ways to solve both of these problems and try to achieve that perfect marriage between the squareness of your clubface and your swing path through impact.
How Can I Fix My Golf Hook?
First things first, address the ball with the club face square on the ball, pointed in the direction of your target.
Next, focus on your grip. Look at your grip to make sure the position of your hands and wrists are not going to cause you to turn your hands over and close the clubface on your follow through.
Make sure your right wrist and hand are not too open (palm facing toward you), and that your left wrist and hand are not too closed.
Either, of these wrist/hand positions, and especially both of them together, will increase the likelihood of turning your hands over too much on the downswing and striking the ball with a closed clubface.
To avoid these mistakes, make sure your wrists and thumbs are in line with one another, and that both thumbs are pointed straight down the grip.
Next, make sure your grip is not too tight.
Even perfect wrist/hand placement on the grip can result in a hook if your grip is too tight. A tight grip, specifically in the right hand, is likely to cause an “outside-in” swing that commonly yields an overcorrection of hand position (i.e., turning your hands over too much) through impact, causing, you guessed it, the club face to close, which creates the hook.
The second (but very general) thing to remember is that your hips, upper body, and arms need to maintain harmony in their respective speeds on the downswing through impact.
While there are infinite drills to work on either slowing down or speeding up the speed of any one particular part of your body during the golf swing, simply understanding the relationship between your hips, upper body, and arms, can help you pinpoint the exact cause of your hook.
As you know by now, a hook is typically caused by a closed club face on a straight (or outward-right) swing path. Therefore, you want to avoid moving any of these three parts of your body with an amount of speed that is going to result in a closed club face.
It should not come as a surprise that swinging too fast with your arms increases the likelihood of your arms getting out in front of your body, and getting ahead of your hips and upper body. This will usually result in a closed club face at impact. So, if you suffer from a hook, your answer may be as simple as slowing your arms down enough to keep them in pace with the rest of your body.
Of course, the issue described above may not be the result of arms that are “too fast,” but simply of your hips being “too slow.”
When the hips trail the arms (or when the arms are ahead of the hips), you are essentially reaching across your body on the downswing, which causes the closed clubface, and in turn, the hook.
Speeding up the hips is typically easier to do than slowing down your arms.
When you make sure to accelerate your hips through the swing, your arms and upper body will tend to follow accordingly, and all of these parts will start to act in harmony with one another to keep you on that same swing-path you were lining up at your address.
Conclusion: What is a Golf Hook (and How to Fix It)
A hook is generally believed to be one of the “easier” problems to fix in golf. Although everything in golf is easier said than done, a hook is often caused by one significant issue in the grip or swing can be relatively simple to identify, and equally as simple to resolve, with practice.
Because the golf swing is all bout rhythm and harmony throughout the body, once you identify the likely source of the hook, be patient as you try to work on that issue and get your body in a new rhythm that keeps you on line, and in the fairway.