If your clubhead approaches the ball on an exaggerated inside-to-out path, you'll most likely push the golf ball or hook it. If the clubface is closed (pointed left) of the club's path, you're definitely looking at a hook.
To cure your hooks, you must correct this swing path. This drill should do the trick:
- Take your stance and place a range ball basket (or similar item) just behind the outer edge of your right foot, between your toe line and the target line.
- Next, make your takeaway move to about two feet behind the ball. Put the basket 2-3 inches inside the club's path.
- Now hit 10-15 shots, with the object of missing the basket on the way back and the way down. The club should travel between the basket and target line.
The basket will prevent you from taking the club back or approaching the impact zone on a path that's too shallow (e.g. from the inside). You'll have to swing on a somewhat more upright (vertical) plane to achieve the proper clubhead route.
After you've hit the initial series of shots with the basket in place, remove it and hit several more as though the object is still there. This is a great drill to use any time your draws become hooks, or to get your club path nice and square before a round.
Hook Golf Shot Drills
For most amateur golfers, it is the slice that proves to be the biggest hurdle on the way to lower scores. Countless amateur players struggle to correct their persistent slice, going more and more frustrated as they see the ball turn to the right time after time (for a right handed player). However, while the slice is the more common error, it may be true that the hook is the more damaging mistake. When you hook the ball with your driver – or even with your irons – you are frequently left with a shot that won't stop until it finds trouble.
Unlike a fade or a slice, a hook tends to have plenty of speed when it hits the ground, meaning there is often a big bounce or two that can take the ball into a bad place. If you are currently fighting a hook in your game, you already know just how damaging and frustrating this shot pattern can become. To get your game back on track, and to have the chance to actually improve your game going forward, you will need to find a way to take the hook out of your game once and for all. Fortunately, most players find it easier to fix a hook than a slice, as those with a hook are usually only one or two minor corrections away from a quality swing.
It is often said that a hook is a 'good player's miss', mostly because you have to be delivering the club from an inside path in order to hook the ball into trouble. While there is nothing pretty about the ball flight itself when you hit a hook, there is a good chance that your swing is actually in decent shape at this point. To get your game on track, you will need to figure out what it is that is causing your swing to produce too much hook spin. Once the corrections are made, you should be able to turn that hook into a gentle draw – which is a ball flight that will give you an opportunity to play well on a regular basis.
Don't let your hook get you too frustrated before you start working on a fix. You can take confidence in knowing that your swing likely has a lot of positive elements in place already, and you should be able to expect better play in the near future as long as you are willing to put in a bit of work on the needed fixes. Nothing comes easy in golf, but getting rid of your hook should not be too difficult in the end. Use the advice provided in the content below, dedicate some practice time to eliminating this pattern from your game, and better results should be soon to follow.
All of the instruction provided below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Understanding the Hook
Before you can successfully fix your hook, you need to understand why the ball is hooking in the first place. The average golfer doesn't have a very strong understanding of what it is that causes the ball to turn in a specific direction, and that lack of knowledge can be costly when it comes time to make corrections. You can't easily fix a problem that you don't understand to begin with. Take the time to get a handle on why it is that your ball is turning quickly to the left in the air and you will suddenly have a much better understanding of how you can eliminate that problem.
There are two important variables at play when trying to understand why the ball curves in the direction that it does. Those two variables are listed below –
- Swing path. This is the path that the club takes through the impact area. If the club is moving direction toward the target when you contact the ball, your swing path is 'straight', or 'down the line'. This is usually the goal for most players, or at least, something close to this path. The other options for swing path are, obviously, from inside-out or from outside-in. If the club head is getting closer to your body as you swing through the ball, you are swinging on an outside-in path. This is common among those who slice the golf ball. On the other hand, swinging from inside-out is the mistake usually seen in players who fight a hook. Swinging from inside-out is not the only element needed to create a hook, but it is a big part of the equation to be sure.
- Face angle. The other half of this picture is face angle. This point refers to the direction that the face of the club is pointed at impact. There are three terms used to describe the position of the face when you hit the ball – open, square, and closed. These terms are used in reference to the target you have selected for a given shot. So, an 'open' club face at impact is one that is pointed to the right of the intended target. A 'closed' club face will be pointed to the left of the target, and a 'square' club face will be perfectly aligned with the target when you hit the ball. In theory, a shot that is hit with a square club face and a swing path that is moving perfectly down the line will fly straight at the target (although hitting the ball perfectly straight is nearly impossible. It is when the face of your club is closed relative to the path of your swing that you will see the ball turn to the right in the air. If the face of your club is only slightly closed compared to the path at impact, you will hit a nice little draw. However, if the face is dramatically closed as it cuts across the ball, a hook will be the sure result.
Typically, it is players who approach the ball dramatically from the inside who are going to struggle with a consistent hook. If you have a good swing path in place, it will be hard to close the face dramatically enough to actually produce a hook regularly. Sure, you might hit a big draw with that kind of swing, but it is unlikely that you will cross over into the realm of a hook when you are swinging on a good path. However, if you are attacking from significantly inside the target line – and you combine that inside-out approach with a closed club face – it is almost inevitable that you will hook the ball sharply to the left.
For this reason, it is a good idea to play with as neutral a swing path as possible. If you can keep the club moving down the target line in a relatively straight manner, you will find that your ball flights become much less severe. You will still be curving the ball one way or another on almost every shot, but those curves will be far more playable than if you are coming significantly inside-out through the shot (or vice versa). As you move forward in an attempt to improve your performance on the course, keep this important point in mind – a neutral swing path is going to lead to far more playable shots than will a dramatically outside-in or inside-out move.
Finding Your Cause
At this point, you really only know one thing for sure – you are hitting a hook. Since you are hitting a hook, you can infer that the club face is closed at impact relative to your swing path. But which half of the equation is really causing the problem? Are you hitting a hook because your club face is closing down too quickly, or is it really the swing path that is to blame for your woes? That is the big question that needs to be answered. Once you have determined exactly what it is that is leading to your hooks, you can set about working on some drills in order to correct your flawed technique.
While all golf swings are unique, there are some common mistakes made by golfers who tend to hook the ball consistently. Take a look at the list below and see if you can pick out one or two of these errors that you think may be present in your swing.
- Lower body getting too far ahead in the downswing. To start our list of potential mistakes, we are going to highlight a mistake that is actually more common in experienced players. Golfers who know that the lower body needs to lead the way in the downswing may have a tendency to 'overdo it' – in other words, they may allow the lower body to race out from under the upper body in the downswing. When that happens, the club may fall to the inside early in the downswing, causing it to attack dramatically from inside-out at impact. You need to keep your swing connected from start to finish, which means your lower body needs to be under your upper body throughout the action. You do want to use your lower body aggressively in the downswing, but you need to do so while making sure that your upper body can keep up with the pace.
- Active hands in the takeaway. As you may or may not know, your hands should be as quiet as possible during the takeaway phase of your swing. You want to take the club back mostly with your shoulders while your hands stay out of the equation almost completely. Those who do get their hands too involved early on will run the risk of getting the club stuck to the inside – meaning that an inside-out swing path is very much possible. By keeping the right wrist stable in the early parts of the backswing, this mistake can be avoided and the club can be kept on a proper path. If it is the takeaway that has been causing you to hook the ball, you may find that this fix is relatively quick and easy once you move the club back correctly to start your swing.
- Extra-long backswing. A long backswing has the potential to help you create speed, but it can also lead to a hook if you aren't careful. When the club goes back too far, it will get 'across the line' at the top, putting it in a position to drop to the inside as the downswing begins. In order to stop your backswing at just the right point, pay attention to the rotation of your shoulders. If your shoulders have stopped turning back, your arms (and the club) should stop turning as well. There is nothing to be gained by forcing your arms back farther than your shoulders, so don't fall into that trap. Maintain control over the length of your arm swing and it will be much easier to keep the club on the right path.
- Trying to 'save' the swing. On the way down toward the ball, you should be feeling confident that the club is in the right place and the club face is going to be square when you make contact. However, if you don't have that confidence, you may wind up trying to 'save' the swing at the last moment by using your hands to rotate the face closed. This is something that many amateur golfers do out of fear of hitting the ball to the right, and it can easily lead to a hook. You can quickly close the face of the club when you make this kind of last moment adjustment, meaning you could turn an otherwise good swing into a hook by panicking right at the end. To steer clear of this mistake, the best thing you can do is keep your confidence up through consistent practice. If you work on your swing regularly, you can maintain confidence in your technique – and you won't be tempted to use your hands at the last moment to manipulate the club face.
There are plenty of potential causes when dealing with a hook, but the most common are included in the points listed above. Take a moment to think about your own swing in reference to this list and you should be able to pinpoint exactly what it is that is causing your ball to miss left over and over again.
A No-Hook Drill
Hopefully, with help from the content above, you have been able to figure out exactly what it is that has been causing your hook. For many players, fixing the hook requires nothing more than figuring out what the problem was in the first place. You may be able to easily fix your mistakes once you pick them out, as long as you are willing and able to spend a bit of time on the range working on your form.
Of course, even if you do manage to fix your hook on your own, it is still helpful to have a drill or two in your back pocket to use as reinforcement of what you have learned. With that in mind, this section is going to include a drill that is a great practice option for players who have historically battled against a hook. Put this simple drill into use during your next practice session and you will move a big step in the right direction with regard to leaving the hook in the past.
- For this drill, you are going to need a place to hit balls, an extra golf towel, a few range balls, and one of your long or mid-irons. Assuming you are hitting balls on a traditional driving range, try to find a quiet corner of the range where you can work on your swing without being bothered by other players.
- To get started, take the golf towel you are going to use and roll it up into a cylinder shape. If it is a long towel, fold it in half before you roll it up. Ideally, the end result will be something roughly the size of a football. Set the towel down on the ground once it is rolled up, with the long side running in the same direction as your target line for the shots.
- Now that the towel is in place on the ground, place your first golf ball just a couple of inches to the inside of the towel (meaning the ball will be closer to your feet than the towel). There should be enough room for you to hit the ball without touching the towel, assuming you use a good swing path.
- With the setup for the drill complete, take your club and get ready to make a swing. You should get into the stance that you would use for any standard shot out on the course, and you should be aiming at a specific target somewhere down the range. The goal for the first swing is simple – to hit the ball without hitting the towel. If you can accomplish that goal, you will almost certainly avoid a hook. A swing that comes dramatically from inside-out is going to hit the towel on the way through, which will tell you that a mistake has been made. This kind of instant feedback is highly valuable as you will know right away whether or not you have executed your mechanics properly.
- Continue to hit as many balls as you would like with the towel in place. Hopefully, after just a few swings, you will figure out how to avoid the towel successfully with every swing, and your path will be forever improved. If you find that you start to fall back into bad habits at some point down the line, revisit this drill to get yourself back on track.
The drill outlined above is extremely simple, yet it is highly effective in the task of improving your swing path to eliminate the inside-out approach. Add this drill to your collection of practice routines and you should be a better golfer for the effort.
Keep It Moving
One of the best things you can do to avoid a hook is simply to keep your swing moving through impact. This might sound like overly simple advice, but it is incredibly important. When you hesitate in your downswing – even slightly – you can cause a hook to occur. As you slow down your body rotation on the way down, the clubface will close relative to your swing path and the ball will turn left.
Have you ever noticed how professional golfers tend to miss to the left when they are under pressure toward the end of a tournament? The reason is simple – they get nervous, their bodies lock up as a result of those nerves, and the club face shuts down. Don't let this happen to you, whether it is because of nerves or any other reason. Once your downswing begins, you need to be committed to swinging all the way through to the finish without a bit of hesitation. Keep your confidence up, swing through aggressively to the left, and look up to see your ball headed straight for the target.
During your practice sessions, remember to keep this important point in mind. If you feel yourself hesitating on the way down, stop what you are doing and address the problem right away. This is an issue that can become more and more difficult to correct the longer it goes on, so don't let it hang around in your game any longer than it has to. It is hard to play good golf while dealing with a hook, and you will always be running the risk of that dreaded hook coming back if you hesitate on the way down toward impact. However, by working hard on both your swing fundamentals and your confidence, you can say goodbye to this damaging mistake once and for all. Good luck!