Hook Golf Shot Drills: Hold Off Finish with Badge to the Sky

Golfers with very active hands are prone to hitting hooks. Excessive hand action through the impact zone closes and delofts the clubface, causing low, left-turning shots.

Because the hands control clubface position, you need to make them more passive at the bottom of the swing. Here's a drill with a very easy key:

  • Your glove should have a logo or badge on the back of the hand. When taking your grip, the logo should be approximately aligned with the clubface. If you don't wear a glove, simply focus on the back of your left hand (right hand for lefties).
  • Using a short iron and a short swing, hit several short shots while keeping the glove's logo pointing up through impact and into the follow-through.
  • Complete the swing with the club shaft parallel to the ground and the back of your glove facing the sky.
  • Hit 10 shots like this, then proceed by allowing the left hand to turn over a little.

The idea is to keep the clubface square, or slightly open (pointing right), at the moment of contact. You'll achieve this by slowing down those active hands.

Hook Golf Shot Drills

Hook Golf Shot Drills

In the world of amateur golf, the hook is not nearly as common as the slice. Countless golfers struggle with a slice on a daily basis, while relatively few have trouble with a hook. However, being in the minority isn't going to make you feel any better about your game if you can't seem to shake that frustrating hook pattern. Believe it or not, a hook is actually harder to deal with than a slice, since a hook will usually hit the ground running. If you are going to lower your scores and have more fun on the course, the hook has to go.

To help you eliminate your hook once and for all, we are going to offer up three hook drills in this article. Each of these drills can be performed at the driving range, and none of them require any specialty equipment beyond what you should already have in your bag. Using drills is a great way to eliminate your hook because you will be able to feel the moves you need to make in order to straighten out your shots. The results probably won't be immediate when you use these drills, but consistent practice should lead to results sooner rather than later.

Before we begin, it is important to clarify exactly what a hook is, and what it is not. For a right-handed golfer, a hook is a shot which curves sharply to the left as it flies. The word 'hook' is usually reserved for shots that are basically out of control as they turn wildly to the left. When the ball lands, it will usually bounce and roll (depending on course conditions) because of the low backspin rate on these kinds of shots. There is an old saying in golf which highlights just how hard it is to deal with a hook. The saying goes, 'you can talk to a fade, but a hook won't listen'.

It is important to note that a hook is not the same thing as a pull. A pulled golf shot – again, for a right-handed golfer – is one which misses the target line to the left as soon as it is struck. This is a ball that flies mostly straight through the air, but still winds up way left because of a swing path that caused the ball to start off in that direction. These two kinds of mistakes are completely different from a mechanical standpoint, so it is important not to use hook drills if you are really dealing with a pull. Figure out exactly what is wrong with your swing first, and then use drills to get yourself back on track.

All of the content 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.

Drill #1 – Catching Your Plane

Drill #1 – Catching Your Plane

When you hit a hook, it is almost certain that you are coming into the ball on an inside-out path. That would make sense, as it is the opposite path – outside-in – that is responsible for the slice. When the club comes from too far inside the proper path, hook spin will be created and the ball will curve quickly to the left (depending on the face angle). It is technically possible to create a hook while swinging on a proper path if you have a dramatically closed face, but that is not the typical situation. Most of the time, a hook is created because there is a problem with the swing plane.

In this first drill, we are going to provide you with a way to check on your path while you practice. You are going to need to be at a driving range which features a grass hitting area rather than artificial turf. Also, you will need some practice balls to hit, a few golf tees, and your set of clubs. When you have everything you need and you are setup at the range, follow the steps below to get started.

  • For your first few shots, consider using a middle iron, such as a seven iron. While you could technically use any of the clubs in your bag – other than the putter, of course – a mid-iron is a good place to start because it is right in between your long clubs and your short clubs. Once you get the hang of the drill, you can feel free to try it with other clubs as well.
  • As you are getting started, place your first ball down on the ground in front of you and pick out a target. The target should be easily within range of the club you have selected for these shots. When taking your stance, you aren't going to aim out to the right in anticipation of a hook. Instead, you are going to aim right at the target.
  • Place the club head on the ground behind the ball and get ready to hit your shot. However, before starting the swing, you are going to make one more preparation. You will need to reach down and push a tee into the ground just inside of the target line, and to the right of the club head by a couple inches. In other words, from your perspective at address, the tee should be closer to you than the heel of the club, and it should be to the right of the club head. This tee is going to stand in that location as a deterrent to swinging from the inside-out.
  • Go ahead and hit your first shot. As you make the swing, think about swinging directly down the target line rather than swinging significantly from the inside-out. If you are successful, you'll miss the tee and hit a solid shot. On the other hand, if you do wind up swinging from the inside, you will clip the tee and the shot will very likely hook to the left.
  • Feel free to repeat this drill as many times as you would like before taking the tee away and continuing on with your practice session.

The advantage of using this drill is the fact that you will have a visual aid to help you swing down into the ball on a proper plane. You will clearly see that the tee is in the way of an inside-out approach, so your body may make the adjustment naturally to swing more directly down the line. In addition to missing the tee, you can also see if you have been successful just by watching your shots fly through the air. If they no longer are turning as quickly to the left as they were previously, you can be confident that you're on the right track.

Drill #2 – Staying Connected

Drill #2 – Staying Connected

One of the common swing problems which can lead to a hook is losing 'connection' during the golf swing. A golfer is said to be properly connected when he or she is able to keep the upper body and lower body nicely in sync from start to finish. If one half of the body races out ahead of the other, bad things can happen. Usually, a hook will result when the lower body moves faster than the upper body in the downswing, and a slice will result when the opposite is true.

So, if you are hitting a hook currently, there is a good chance that your lower body is moving too quickly on the way down and your upper body simply can't keep up. Many professional golfers get into this habit from time to time, and they usually refer to it as getting 'stuck'. That means that the club is stuck behind them in the downswing, and there is no chance to catch up before impact. There are two things that can happen when you get stuck in the downswing – if the face stays open, you will hit a push, and if you close the face before impact, you will hit a hook.

There are a number of different elements that have to come together in order for you to stay connected on every swing. To work on this crucial skill, give the following drill a try during your next visit to the range.

  • Again with this drill, you are going to want to use your seven iron to get started. You will need some practice golf balls, of course, and a nice quiet place on the range to do your work. If you are someone who usually chats with other golfers during practice session, try to separate yourself when working on this drill so you can really focus. There will be plenty of time for socializing later after your work is done.
  • When you pick out a target for these shots, you are going to want to select one which is only about half of the distance down the range that you would usually use for the club you are holding. So, for example, if you usually hit your seven iron around 150 yards, look for a target in the 75-yard range.
  • Take your stance as you would normally and make sure you are aimed accurately at the target you have in mind. Before starting your swing, however, you are going to move your feet in significantly closer to one another. Bring in both your right foot and your left foot to the point where they are only a few inches apart. You should still be able to stand comfortably without falling over, but you shouldn't have the usually wide base that you use for a golf swing.
  • With your stance set, go ahead and hit the first shot. You will notice right away that you are not able to swing the club in the same aggressive manner than you do when using your normal stance. These shots aren't going to have as much power as your normal swings, but that's okay. We aren't after power here – instead, we are trying to make sure you keep the upper and lower halves of your body connected nicely from start to finish.
  • Hit several shots with your feet close together and pay attention to how they feel as you swing through the hitting area. Then, move your feet back out to their usual position and hit a few more. With any luck, you will have improved your connection thanks to this drill, and your hook pattern will be reduced – or even eliminated.

You aren't going to be able to let your lower body 'run away' with the swing when doing this drill, because you would quickly fall off balance if that were the case. Your upper body will need to stay nicely stacked on top of your lower half. Not only will this improved connection help you steer clear of a hook, but it should also help you simply strike the ball more solidly overall. Return to this drill any time you feel that your connection is getting off track and you should be able to quickly bring things back together.

Drill #3 – Master Your Punch

Drill #3 – Master Your Punch

For our final drill, we are going to work on a technique that will help to quiet your hands through the hitting area. As mentioned earlier, most hooked shots are caused by a swing path which comes from the inside-out. However, that is not the only way to hit a hook. You can also hook the ball by swinging down on a straight path with a club face that is dramatically closed when impact arrives. Most of the time, such conditions are the result of overactive hands. If this is the reason for your hook, this final drill should help you slow down your hands and reach a quality impact position.

As has been the case for all of our drills, you are going to get started with a seven iron and a bucket of practice balls. Follow the steps below to give this a try for yourself.

  • Pick out a target which is well within the range of your seven iron. You are going to be hitting punch shots in this drill, so you should not be planning on hitting the ball your full, normal distance. Instead, pick a target which is 20 or 30 yards shorter than the distance you would typically expect to hit a seven iron.
  • Before making your first swing, you are going to adjust your setup slightly in order to promote a punch shot. This means you are going to move the ball back in your stance a bit, you will choke down a couple inches from the top of the club, and you will narrow your stance just slightly (not as narrow as in the previous drill).
  • With those adjustments made, go ahead and hit your first punch shot. The key to a good punch shot is taking your hands out of the action on the way through the ball. Instead of releasing your hands aggressively through the shot and into the finish, you are going to 'hold off' on the release and keep the club relatively low to the ground. At the end of a punch swing, the club shaft should be roughly parallel with the ground, out in front of your chest. If you find yourself swinging up over your shoulders, you have used too much release and you really aren't hitting a punch shot.
  • After hitting a series of punch shots toward your target, return to your regular setup and make some standard swings. While hitting these shots, keep in mind how it felt to punch the ball out toward the target. You aren't going to keep punching all of your shots, but you can learn from that feeling in order to slow down your hands a bit. With slower hands through the ball, the club face will be less likely to close down, and the ball will be less likely to hook to the left.
  • Throughout your practice session, go back and forth between regular swings and punch shots. By the time you have hit your entire bucket of balls, you should have a much improved feeling for how you want your hands to behave through the hitting area.

There are a couple of benefits to using this drill. For one thing, you should have a better understanding for how to eliminate your hook when all is said and done. Also, you will be more familiar with hitting a solid punch shot, which is an extremely handy shot to have in your arsenal. Any time you feel yourself using too much hand action through the hitting area, come back to this drill for a reminder of how you can hit solid shots just by turning your body through toward the target.

Other Hook Tips

Other Hook Tips

The three drills we have included above should go a long way toward allowing you to take the hook out of your game. Before we wrap up this article, there are a few other hook-related tips that we would like to share. Please find those tips below.

  • Keep it moving. Believe it or not, one of the biggest causes of the hook is pressure. This is true for both amateur and professional golfers. When you get nervous, it can become difficult to keep your body moving properly during the swing. If you fail to finish your turn through toward the target, the club face might close down before you arrive at impact – meaning a hook will be the result of the swing. Before hitting any kind of shot under pressure, take a deep breath and tell yourself to commit to the shot with total confidence. You won't always hit good shots, of course, but committing to the swing will give you the best possible chance at a positive outcome.
  • Don't guide your swings. Another scenario in which you could be left with a hook is when you try to guide the ball toward the target with a soft swing. You don't need to swing at full effort all of the time, of course, but you do need to accelerate the club through the hitting area with confidence. If you aren't sure of your ability to hit the target, or if you are trying to avoid hitting the ball too hard, you might ease up through impact and allow the club to turn over. Make all of your decisions with regard to aim and distance clearly before the swing starts, and then dedicate yourself to producing a quality move. As is always the case in golf, you will get a long way with a combination of confidence and focus.
  • Pick smart targets on the course. The time to work on eliminating your hook is during a practice session on the driving range. When you are out on the course, all you should be doing is trying to get the ball into the hole in the fewest number of strokes possible. That means forgetting about working on your physical technique and instead focusing your efforts on making smart decisions with regard to club selection and target. If you are struggling with your hook specifically with the driver, club down to a three wood or hybrid off the tee just to get the ball in play. That would be a particularly good strategy on a hole which features hazards down the right side. Don't pretend that you don't have a hook and allow that denial to get you into trouble. Instead, accept it for what it is at the moment and make good choices as a result.

Playing with a hook might be frustrating, but it should be encouraging as well. Hitting a hook means you are significantly closer to a solid ball flight than if you were hitting a slice. Players with a slice usually have a lot of work to do, but a hook player might just be one or two tweaks away from a solid game. Get down to work using the drills above and you could make a big step forward in short order. Good luck!