Allow us to paint a quick picture for you:
It’s a warm summer morning and you’re on the first tee box with three of your friends. Spirits are high as everyone casually stretches and starts to take some slow first swings. Your friend tosses a tee in the air to figure out who will tee off first and it points to you - it’s your time to shine.
You take your final warm up swings, plant your tee into the ground, place your new Pro V1 ball on the tee and then straighten up into your stance. Your friends step back and quiet down in anticipation, as you methodically address the ball. After taking a final practice swing and one last deep breath, you’re set. You rotate your club backwards, swing forward with all your might and as you lift your head to see where this immaculate tee shot is headed… you watch it wind wildly to the left, peak at an unnatural height and then sink down into the fescue, far left of the fairway...
As you stare solemnly in the direction of your (likely lost) ball, you realize your idyllic morning has been shattered once again by your golf nemesis - The Hook.
If you’re reading this, you’re likely already painfully aware of what “hooking the golf ball” means, but let us quickly review. A hook is when you strike the ball in a way that drives it to the left (for a right-hander) in a low, parabolic arc that peaks early and dives down fast. It is also sometimes referred to as a “snap hook” or played off as an intentional “fade” - a shot pros use intentionally to move from right to left.
Now that we’ve set the scene and covered the basics, let’s delve into answering the question at hand - How can I stop hooking the golf ball?
Common Reasons for Hooking the Ball
Your Golf Club Path is Off Course
Your golf club path is the trajectory line your club travels during your backswing and follow-through. With the ideal trajectory, your club head travels in a smooth, straight line as your club swings backward and then forward, like a pendulum in a straight line.
There are two common issues with your club path that may be causing your hook. The first scenario is that you’re moving your club outside-in, which means that you are swinging down and across your body, which will usually then drive the ball immediately left and the spin will carry it even further left.
The second scenario is that you’re moving your club inside-out, which is when you swing into and then away from your body, pushing the club up and out. The result is that the ball may start out heading right, but will then curve back to the left and down.
A Closed Clubface at Impact
The biggest culprit of hooking your ball is the closed clubface. A closed clubface is when the flat face of the club is pointing towards the left of the target and occurs for a number of reasons we’ll get into here shortly.
The angle and direction of your clubface when you make contact with the ball is the single largest factor in determining which direction your ball will go. Moreso than any other element of your swing, a square clubface - where the clubface line is perpendicular to your target - will at least ensure that your ball goes straight, which is arguably the biggest challenge for most amateur golfers.
Tips to Help You Stop Hooking the Ball
Fix Your Stance
Your golf stance is the foundation upon which the rest of your swing is built upon. If you’re not getting set up in the proper stance first, the subsequent elements of your swing will suffer.
To begin, put your clubhead flat on the ground with the face square in front of the ball to determine a comfortable distance from the ball, based on the length of your club. As you enter your stance, stand up straight, with your feet pointing straight out and shoulder width apart. For right-handers, you can then turn your front-left foot slightly outwards to restrict your backswing and increase power in your follow through.
Then, bend your knees while keeping your back straight and lean slightly forward at the hips. Make sure that you keep your shoulders square to the ball and stick your butt out by pulling in your pelvis. If you’re set up properly your feet, knees, hips and shoulders should all be perpendicular to your square clubface.
Find The Ideal Grip
How you grip your golf club has a tremendous impact on whether or not your clubface is square when you strike the ball, so make sure that arranging the proper grip is built into your pre-swing prep for every shot!
To begin, lay the clubhead flat on the ground in front of you, cup the end of the handle at the base of your fingers in your left hand and close your hand, wrapping your fingers lightly around the club. Then lay your thumb towards the middle-right part of the handle, so that your thumb and pointer finger form an arrow pointing at your right shoulder.
Now, take your open right hand and touch your thumb to your pointer finger, creating a groove underneath the fatty part at the base of your thumb. Then slide the groove over your left thumb, so that your right hand only slightly overlaps the tip of your left thumb. Then gently wrap your right hand fingers around the club. Your right pinky should also slightly overlap with your left pointer finger. This overlap helps the right and left hand work in tandem.
At the end of the day, everyone’s grip is unique. Use the above grip outline to start and alter it as needed so it feels natural for you! Just remember to grip the club lightly and relax your arms and wrists for a more effortless and accurate swing.
Control Your Backswing & Weight Transfer
One (seemingly) easy fix to help shake that pesky hook is to slow down your backswing. This tip may sound easy enough to implement, but is often forgotten at the moment of truth, as you try to knock the dimples off the ball (sound familiar?).
If your backswing is too fast, you tend to lose control of your hands, hips, head and feet. Slowing down your backswing helps ensure that when it comes time to swing-through, your body is leading your hands and it stops your hands from “rolling over”, which closes your clubface, resulting in a hook.
Finally, make sure that you don’t shift your weight too much from one foot to the other during your swing. This can cause you to swing the club too far around your body, which again tends to result in a closed clubface. Keep a nice steady, balanced weight and lean a bit forward onto your toes (don’t lean back on your heels!).
Looking for more ways to improve your game? Make sure you check out Back 2 Basics Golf for Rangefinders, Putting Mirrors, Apparel and more!