The golf hook is a shot where the ball (unintentionally) turns to the left (as a right-hander) after the moment of impact and usually lands off target. More important than the hook itself, however, is the question of how to get rid of it when we are struggling with it on the course.
This is exactly what this article and the following video are about.
How do trajectories occur in golf?
Trajectories occur whenever our clubface and our swing direction disagree at impact and want to go in different directions.
Imagine you are standing on the range of your home course. You have a 7 iron in your hand and are perfectly aligned with your target.
Feet, clubface and shoulders are parallel and point to the target in this scenario. The decisive factor is how we move the club through the ball and what the clubface does in the process.
A swing direction that crosses our target line in one direction or the other does not yet cause a curve – as long as the clubface is facing the same direction.
If our balls tend to hook, we cross our target line from left to right as a right-hander and from right to left as a left-hander. This is also called an "inside-out" swing direction.
What happens when we come at the ball from the inside and the clubface does not point to the target at impact, but reflects our swing direction? We push the ball.
The ball flies straight and lands either to the left or to the right of the target, depending on whether we swing the club to the right or to the left.
In our experience, the push is much less prevalent than the draw or the hook because our subconscious has a tendency to compensate for deviations in order to still make the ball fly to the target.
One such compensation option:
We close the clubface in relation to the swing direction. A little of this is super and leads to a draw where the ball starts outside the target line and curves back to the target.
But the more closed the clubface is at impact in relation to the direction of the swing, the more the ball curves and the greater the chance that the ball will miss the target and shoot off flat and uncontrollably.
This is unfavorable and in our experience has 3 common causes.
Please note that in all 3 cases we assume a clean ball contact in the sweetspot and do not consider the gear effect. Learn more about the gear effect and why crisp sweet spot hits are so important in our eBook long, crisp and precise, which you can conveniently download via email from the box below:
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Golf Hook Cause #1: Feet and clubface are not aligned parallel
Getting to the ball from the inside and crossing the target line from left to right (as a right-hander) or from right to left (as a left-hander) is not that easy from a motor point of view.
The club head is inside the hands just before impact, which should look similar to the following picture on video – even if we exaggerate this concept a bit to illustrate it.
Unlike the much more common slice, where the downswing is usually very shoulder and arm heavy, we need to keep the hands and club close to the body in the downswing to cause a hook. Few amateurs find this easy, as this movement is anything but intuitive and therefore often requires some help:
Many players compensate for their trajectories by their alignment and close their stance in the process. Often this compensation does not solve the problem.
If you try to compensate for the hook by aligning yourself further to the right of the target, you only exacerbate the problem. Because the club now has more free space to swing in the direction responsible for a certain trajectory.
If you tend to hook, check your alignment and make sure your stance is not closed. A closed stance not only gives your club more room to cross the target line from the inside to the outside, it also causes your subconscious to compensate for the misalignment with the clubface. The mix of the two provides the perfect premise for the hook.
Golf Hook Cause # 2: We don’t shift our weight optimally
Even a player who moves the club as chaotically as Jim Furyk does a lot of things right and sticks to the basics. One of these basics:
We want to build up tension in the backswing through our body rotation, which we can then release again at the ball. To do this, we first shift our weight to the right leg (RH) in the backswing, to shift it to the left leg in the downswing.
What the shoulder turn has to do with the hook?
No mistake just pops up out of the blue! Movement patterns build on each other.
With a clean weight shift, it’s pretty difficult (and far from intuitive) for most amateurs to get to the ball from the inside. The hook therefore often occurs when we don’t shift our weight and "stand still" on the right leg.
In this scenario the club head overtakes the hands – the so called flip occurs. Since the hands are not above or slightly in front of the ball at the moment of impact, the clubface closes much earlier than usual.
The clubface is closed in relation to the direction of the swing – even without coming up to the ball from the inside. In doing so, we shift the spin axis of the ball, which as a result flies an often undesirable curve.
If we shift our weight ideally from one leg to the other, we are able to lift the less loaded foot in the finish. If you can lift your right foot for 3 seconds as a right-handed hitter, you are usually balanced in your finish and that again is a sign of good weight transfer.
Golf Hook Cause # 3: We resolve the torso angle
If you "stand up" in the follow through, you do not shift your weight optimally from the right to the left leg (RH) or from the left to the right leg (LH). Again, the hands are not over or slightly in front of the ball, but behind it, which not only makes crisp ball contact difficult, but again leads to hand flipping.
We have already mentioned that we would like to initiate our backswing with the turn of the shoulders. This shifts our weight to the right leg (RH), or to the left leg (LH).
The power we build up should be discharged at the ball, which is why we have to shift the weight from the right (RH) or left (LH) leg back to the other leg.
If we dissolve the torso angle (picture above), an optimal weight shift is almost impossible. We open the door for the flip: the hands rotate more than necessary, the clubface closes, the ball curves over the target.
Hit a few balls from a slope position to counteract the "get up". If your feet are higher than your ball (picture), you are automatically forced to maintain the torso angle during the downswing – otherwise you will topple the ball or miss it completely.
It is important that you do not pay attention to your ball flight, because slopes influence your flight curve.
By the way, you can find out more about flying bugs and how to get rid of them in our eBook Long, crisp and precise. In this course we will deal not only with technical principles but also with training theory and show you the exercises, tips and strategies that will lead us to HCP +1& 2 have helped.