left palm 2

Sometimes, the answer to a swing problem lies between a complicated mechanical fix and the uber-simple “see ball, hit ball” approach. A vivid image or swing thought often does the trick.

Jack Nicklaus relied on just such a key to prevent hitting the ball left, via hook or pull, in the heat of battle. He merely tried to keep the palm of his left hand facing up through impact. Of course, this didn't literally happen; the force of the swing and the natural rotation of the arms make that nearly impossible at Nicklaus' swing speed. Rather, the mental cue helped him keep his right hand from dominating and rolling too quickly over the left, which causes a hook.

If you have a habit of missing left (or right, if you're a lefty), give Nicklaus' left-palm-up tip a try. You may just save yourself the headache of making a major swing change.

Think Left Palm Up to Stop Hooks and Pulls

Think Left Palm Up to Stop Hooks and Pulls

In the world of golf instruction, it is the slice that gets most of the attention. After all, the majority of beginning golfers fight the slice at some point, and many never manage to get it completely out of their game. With that said, there are plenty of other golfers – usually, more experienced players – who fight a hook rather than a slice. In this article, we are going to provide some instruction which has been designed to help those players avoiding hitting the ball to the left and the wrong time.

As you can tell from the title of this article, we are going to focus on the behavior of your left hand when trying to prevent the ball from going left after it leaves the club (this is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer). Whether you are hitting a hook or a pull, the result is the same – the ball winds up way to the left of the target, and you will struggle to finish the hole without losing at least a stroke or two to par. By employing the tips we are going to offer throughout the rest of this article, you just may be able to straighten out your ball flight once and for all.

The best tips in golf are the simple ones. Sure, there is plenty of complicated swing theory in books and across the web that you can read, but those theories aren't going to help you much in practical application. Since the golf swing takes only a couple seconds to complete from start to finish, you really can't think much about your technique while in the middle of the swing. At most, you can focus on just one point which you will try to execute correctly. Unfortunately, many golfers who fight a hook find themselves thinking about many different swing issues all at the same time. This is a recipe for disaster. It is essential that you manage to simplify your thinking down to just one key point which you can use to keep the club face in the proper position at impact. No matter what kind of difficulty you are facing in golf, it is always a good idea to simplify your approach to the greatest degree possible.

Before you get started working on this problem, it is important that you are able to set your frustrations to the side while dealing with the issue in a calm, patient manner. Golf can be a frustrating game – you already know that – and it is easy to let your frustrations get in the way of progress. Don't fall into that trap. Take some time to let your temper cool down before you work on improving your swing and the results are sure to be far more impressive.

All of the content we have provided below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you play this game left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

The Difference Between a Pull and a Hook

The Difference Between a Pull and a Hook

For some readers, the content in this section is going to be review. However, it is important that we sort out the difference between a pull and a hook right off the bat to make sure everyone is on the same page. Although these two shots both wind up missing the target in the same direction, they are dramatically different shots and actually require greatly differing techniques. If you are hitting a hook, you are moving the club through the hitting area in a fashion which is far different than someone who hits a pull.

So how are these two shots different? Please take a moment to review the collection of points below.

  • A hook curves to the left. You will know for sure that you have hit a hook when you see the ball curving quickly from right to left in the air. These shots often feel good when they leave the club face, especially to newer players who don't yet know what it feels like to hit a hook. You typically will have plenty of power transferred to the ball from the club when you hit a hook, so you are going to think you hit a great shot – until you look up and see the ball whipping around to the left. One of the things that makes the hook so damaging is the fact that it comes off the club with plenty of power and very little backspin. Most of the time, you hook isn't going to stop bouncing and rolling until it finds a particularly nasty place to rest.
  • A pull flies straight, to the left of the target. When a pulled shot leaves your club face, it is not curving significantly in any direction – it is just flying on a straight path to a point well to the left of the original target. This shot will not feel as good as a hook at impact, as you will probably know that you have hit a pull just from the way the club moves through the hitting area. The good news here is the fact that the ball shouldn't run out of control after it lands, as the case with a hook. Since the flight path is pretty straight, the ball isn't going to keep running left when it gets down, and there should be at least some backspin to help with stopping the shot. While still a frustrating miss, pulled golf shots are generally not as damaging to your score card as hooks.
  • The path of the club is different. In terms of your swing, the path of the club will be dramatically different for a hook than it is for a pull. When you hit a hook, the club is coming from inside-out as it moves through impact. That motion, along with a closed club face, is what allows you to generate such aggressive side spin. Of course, swinging from inside-out is a good thing when you can control it, so those who are hitting a hook are usually not far off of quality play. On the other hand, you will need to be swinging on an outside-in path in order to hit a pull. That outside-in path is farther from being correct than you were with the hook, meaning those who hit pulls will generally have more work to do in order to straighten out their shots.

The irony here is that a pull, while not as damaging to your scorecard in most cases, is actually harder to fix than a hook. If you have a hook, you can take solace in the fact that you may only be one or two tweaks away from a reliable ball flight. Those of you with pulls should know that you have more work to do, but it can be done as long as you put in the effort.

The Importance of Your Left Palm

The Importance of Your Left Palm

In the title of this article, we point out that you can work on improving your shot pattern by thinking about turning your left palm up. Specifically, we are talking about pointing your left palm up as the club moves through the hitting area. When you get into such a position, the club will be less likely to roll over quickly, meaning you won't miss to the left as easily. This isn't going to be an easy tip to put into action right away, but it can help you in a big way over the long term.

The first thing you need to do if you are going to have your left palm in a good position is to weaken your grip slightly at address. As you are looking down at your grip, turn your left hand a bit to the left, and then re-grip the club. With your left hand adjusted, move your right hand to match. When the grip is fully formed, your two palms should be facing each other on opposite sides of the grip.

A weaker grip is going to take some of the control of the swing out of your hands, which is a good thing when trying to avoid the left side of the golf course. Overactive hands are probably the cause of many of your problems, so consider tweaking your grip into a weaker position in order to gain control over the club face. If you do change your grip, it is important to note that the change is going to take a while to become comfortable. Changing your grip is one of the hardest things you can do in golf from a technique standpoint, so be patient. The rewards will be there in the long run, but it may take a while before your swing feels comfortable and natural again.

Now that you have a slightly weaker grip, it is time to test it out by hitting a few shots. As you swing, this about moving your left palm into an upward facing position at impact. The funny thing about this tip is that you probably won't be able to do it – but that is the whole point. If you actually had your left palm facing up at impact, you would be in a bad position. The club would be closed severely, and the shot would wind up left of the target, which is exactly what you want to avoid. However, the point isn't to get yourself into that position, but rather to use that thought as a way to guide your swinging action.

When you try to point your left palm up at impact, you will use a soft, gentle release through the hitting area. This is ideal, and it will give you a great chance to keep the club face in position for an accurate strike. What you want to avoid is using your right hand too actively at the bottom of the swing. If you were to think about using your right hand instead of your left, you would probably be able to close down the club rapidly, and you would wind up with a hook or pull depending on your path. The nature of rolling your left hand through the ball is such that the release will be more gradual, and the results will be better in the end.

It would be a mistake to try cutting the entire release out of your swing just because you have missed a few balls to the left. The release is an important part of the golf swing. Instead of trying to stop your release, simply think about it taking place in the left hand instead of the right. That will slow things down, your timing should improve, and you should wind up visiting the left side of the golf course far less often.

Other Contributing Factors

Other Contributing Factors

Your release is important in terms of managing a hook or a pull. With the right release technique, it will be much easier to stay out of trouble – but the release isn't the only thing which can contribute to sending the ball way to the left of the target. There may be other mechanical – or mental – issues in your golf swing which are leading to a miss on the left. The list below highlights some of the common reasons golfers may hit a pull or a hook.

  • A poor takeaway. Believe it or not, the root cause of your pull or hook can actually trace all the way back to the very start of your swing. When you hit a pull, it is possible that your takeaway is moving too far to the inside – causing you to go 'over the top' during the transition, and swing across the ball from outside-in at the bottom. Usually, the opposite is true for those hitting a hook. The takeaway will go back to the outside of the line, then the club will be dropped too far inside on the way down and a hook path will result. To correct either of these errors, work on moving the club back in a straighter line away from address. With a straight back takeaway, your swing will start on a better plane and you may be able to correct your ball flight in short order.
  • Weak hip rotation through the ball. This is a common problem in the amateur game. In a proper swing, the hips will rotate aggressively to the left throughout the downswing and on into the finish. For many golfers, such a movement is lacking in the swing. Instead, the average player gives up on the hip turn at some point during the downswing, stopping the lower body while allowing the upper body to continue on. Needless to say, this causes problems. The club face will close down when this mistake is made, and you shot is very likely to miss to the left. Depending on your swing path, this miss could either be a hook or a pull. As you work on your swing at the driving range, be sure to focus on hip rotation in the downswing. A good way to check on your hip rotation is to monitor your finish position. If most of your weight winds up stacked on your left side, you have probably done a good job with the lower body. If not, you may have some room for improvement.
  • Lack of confidence in your swing. As we mentioned above, mental mistakes can manifest themselves in physical ways on the golf course. One great example of this is how a lack of confidence can quickly turn into a hook. If you don't believe in the swing you are making, or the shot you are trying to hit, it is very possible that you will give up on your swing right before impact – and a hook will be the outcome. You need to accelerate the ball through the hitting area in order to hit your targets, but that acceleration is only going to happen when you have trust in your technique. If there are any doubts in your mind as to the quality of your swing, trouble will usually be right around the corner. Use your practice sessions to build confidence and then carry that confidence with you as completely as possible onto the links.

One of the challenging things about golf is simply the many different ways in which your game can go wrong. In this case, hitting a pull or a hook could result from poor hand action through the hitting area, but it could also result from the issues listed above. It takes patience and attention to detail to accurately diagnose not only the problems in your game, but the root causes of those problems as well. As you work on correcting the shots that are missing left in your game, be sure to think about the three points we offered in this section, in addition to other possibilities.

Getting By on the Course

Getting By on the Course

In a perfect world, you would be able to instantly correct your swing when it went wrong, so you wouldn't have to worry about playing golf while missing to the left. Of course, this game isn't that easy, and you can't just fix your swing with a snap of the fingers. It does take time to fix your swing problems, so you might have to get through a few holes – or even a whole round – before you can get yourself back on track.

When you have one of those days where the ball just seems to want to go left no matter what you do, it is important to have a plan for how you can weather the storm. The following tips should help you get through a round with less than your best stuff.

  • Use less club on the tee. One of the first things you should do when you realize that you aren't making great swings is to use less club on the tee whenever possible. When you hit long shots, you bring in the possibility for big misses – and that is exactly what you are trying to avoid in this situation. Rather than swinging away with your driver, put your three wood or a hybrid club to use and improve your chances of staying in play. This will leave you longer approach shots, but at least you can reduce the odds of getting into trouble.
  • Aim away from all hazards. You aren't in a position to play aggressively when you are fighting your swing. Anytime you see a hazard on the course on a day like this, do the smart thing and play safely away to the wide side (if that is an option). It takes patience to use a conservative game plan, but being conservative is what will keep you on track to finish the day with a decent score. You can feel free to play a more aggressive game on a day when you are confident that you swing is firing on all cylinders.
  • Swing with less effort. The faults in your swing can sometimes be magnified by the amount of effort that you put into that swing. If you are swinging at 100% effort on all of your shots, and you get a little bit off track with your mechanics, the ball may veer dramatically off line. However, if you turn down that effort to 80% or even 90%, you could be left with a shot that is a little more playable. This adjustment isn't going to fix the problems in your swing, of course, but it could allow you to play acceptable golf until your mechanics fall back into place.

It is frustrating to look up after impact to see the ball going the same direction over and over again. Whether you are hooking it to the left or just pulling it that way, the result is the same – a shot that misses the target badly, and likely more wasted strokes on your scorecard. We hope the advice offered in this article will help you to correct your ball flight patterns as soon as possible. Good luck!