Let’s just start off by saying that if you have a tendency to hook the ball, you are fortunate when it comes to shot shapes.
For many a good golfer, coming over a nasty hook was the last step on the road to becoming a solid, consistent player. The reason being that changing from a hook to a draw is considerably less difficult and requires fewer swing changes than, say, changing from a slice to a nice draw.
That being said, there is nothing particularly enjoyable about that right to left snappy shot when you hit one, and more often than not, you end up being in as worse a situation than if you were to block slice the ball out right.
If you’re aiming to perfect a baby draw in every shot, then you have to accept that now and then you will over-do it, double cross it and the ball will hook left – even the pros have missed shots, which tend to be hooks.
Luckily for beginners, hooking the ball actually involves some movements in the swing that you will want to keep and replicate, albeit on a slightly less aggressive level, in order to maintain that slight right to left shot shape.
How To Stop Hooking The Golf Ball
What Causes A Hook?
As with any error in the golf swing, it always better to understand why you are doing it before you try to understand what you can do to fix it. A hook is essentially caused by the opposite combination of club path and clubface to those which cause a slice.
While a slice is caused by an open clubface and an out-to-in club path, a hook is engendered by a closed face and an in-to-out swing. This causes the ball to start left (as a result of the closed clubface) and continue to move left after impact (due to the path of the club being in-to-out).
While these two combinations will always be the root of any hook, there are still various parts of your swing or setup that can be causing the closed clubface or in-to-out swing. The first, and by far the most common is a grip that is far too weak and that causes the hand and wrists to turn over too much through impact, resulting in a clubface that is closed to the target line.
The second common cause is slightly harder to fix, but equally as important. This is an incorrect weight shift where your transition starts with the upper body moving down first, trailed by your hips and legs. This premature rotation causes your hands to lead your lower body into the swing and results in a ball that starts left and moves left. Fixing this is slightly harder because it involves dynamic, rather than static changes in your swing but is still very achievable with some of the tips and drills below.
Fixes And Drills
Before you try to change anything in your swing, you need to ensure your setup and grip is correct, as this will always override your swing and can cause you to over compensate. You want to approach the ball with the clubface pointed directly at the target and the line of your feet slightly to the left of your target. This more open stance will help you start the ball on line and will open up your body a bit to prevent a huge in-to-out swing.
Next, grip the club as you would and check where the ‘V’ created by your right thumb and index finger is pointing. If it is pointing towards your right shoulder, you need to rotate your right hand anticlockwise around the grip so that the ‘V’ is pointing at your chin. This is known as strengthening your grip, and is one of the easiest ways to prevent excessive clubface rotation through impact.
If you can remind yourself of this setup (clubface square to target, feet slightly left and a stronger grip), you can progress to fixing your weight shift if the hook persists.
The transition from the top of your swing into the downswing is by its very nature complicated and dynamic. What you want is your body moving in sync, connected and in a fluid manner from the top of your swing through impact.
Unfortunately for many beginners, this movement is far from natural and often becomes disconnected, with either the hips firing before the shoulders or the shoulders before the hips. Either of these will produce an unfavourable outcome.
Typically in a hook, your shoulders initiate the downswing with your hips and legs following suite. To fix this, try and slow down and exaggerate your swing, possibly even pausing at the top and focussing on leading the transition with your hips and then your torso as you rotate through the ball, then follow through with your hands towards the target instead of wrapping around your body as they would in a baseball swing.
Fixing the transition is not easy and will require a lot of practice and frustrating range sessions as you slowly get used to what the swing feels like and how to replicate it on the course. There’s no easy fix here so you have to be dedicated and grind it out if you want to see that perfect shot shape!
Frequently Asked Questions
I only hook it on my long shots – what am I doing wrong?
It is quite normal for any shot shape to be exaggerated on longer shots. If you’re only ever hooking on drives for example, get a friend to check the alignment of your shoulders in relation to your feet and clubface. If your shoulders are pointing too far right of the target you may be setting up for a hook. Try and force yourself to ‘open up’ to the target a bit more to see some results.