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Diagnosing and Fixing a Hook

Faults and Fixes: Hooking

By

Senior golfer teeing off on golf course.
Dougal Waters/Digital Vision/Getty Images
(Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles by instructor Roger Gunn on diagnosing the causes of different ball flights or mishits. This article is written from the right-hander's perspective, so lefties should reverse any handedness or directional elements in the text below.)

The Impact
Let's first make sure you're clear on the different impacts that cause different shots. When the ball is hooking to the left, that means it's curving in a right-to-left motion across the sky. For the ball to do this, it must be spinning in a counter-clockwise direction.

Imagine that the ball is on a peg, and that all it can do is spin one way or another. To spin the ball counter-clockwise, the club has to swing more to the right with the clubface pointing slightly to the left. In a golf shot, this is exactly what happens to make the ball curve across the sky in a hook flight. This can often be confirmed by looking at the direction of your divot. On the course, the divot will often be pointing right, with the ball ending up well left of the divot's direction. This is a classic hook.

Our discussion of the grip, stance, and swing will revolve around the different elements that can cause this type of impact.

The Grip
The grip has little to do with the direction of the swing, but everything to do with where the clubface looks at impact.

Grips can be very individualized. A grip that produces a perfectly straight shot for one player can cause a huge hook or a slice for another. But you can make certain generalizations about the grip regarding hooking.

If your hands are turned too far to the right on the club, it's much more likely to return with the clubface looking to the left at impact.

Here's the guideline: In your stance, with the clubface square to the target, you should be able to look down and see no more than two knuckles on your left hand. If you see three or four, that could be contributing to your hook. Another guideline is to look at the "V's" formed between the knuckle and thumb on both hands. These should point somewhere near your right shoulder and right ear, no more to the right.

The Stance
It certainly seems logical that if a golfer is missing often to the left, then before too long he or she would aim more to the right to compensate. With golfers who hook the ball, this is usually the case. But aiming to the right will cause the swing's circle to be too far to the right, exacerbating the hooking motion.

Doublecheck that your aim is not too far to the right, especially with your shoulders. You can lay a club on the ground, parallel to your target line, to check your aim. Or have a friend check your alignment. Just make sure that your feet, knees, hips and shoulders are parallel to that club on the ground, and therefore, to your target line.

Checking your stance and grip can often eradicate any hook without changing the hitting motion at all. Let the ball's flight be your guide. If the ball is curving less to the left, then you're on the right track. If it's flying straight or curving right, then your hook is cured.

Next Page: Checking the Backswing and Downswing

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