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4 Common Causes of a Hook and How to Fix It

The majority of golfers prefer to see a draw in the air. It’s typically got more distance than a cut, is easier to control, and is a reliable go-to shot shape for many golfers. But, if you’ve ever heard the dreaded, “I overcooked that one” from another member of your foursome, you know a draw can quickly become a slinging hook without much warning. So, if you often ask the universe why your irons go right to left (left to right for the lefties) or how to fix a hook with a driver, these common causes and their cures are for you. 

(Grip) Too Strong For Your Own Good

No, this doesn’t mean if you lift too heavy in the gym you’ll be hitting nasty hook shots. Instead, strength is a measure of your grip on the club, in two ways in fact. A strong grip is typically a measure of the placement of the hands themselves and the way in which the club sits in the palms and fingers. Grip strength can also be measured in the actual amount of pressure or stress felt in the hands. If you feel like you have a choke-hold on the grip, that’s a good indication you’re tipping the scales of grip strength. 

The best way to demonstrate the look and feel of a neutral golf grip is to take your normal stance, without a club, and allow your arms to hang down as they naturally would without any manipulation. The biggest thing you’ll notice with this exercise is that the palms of your hands are inclined to face one another. It would be quite easy to insert a golf club while in this position and grip it without twisting or turning either arm or hand. 

golf grip

A strong grip happens when the right hand (again, opposite if you’re a lefty) and arm face the sky more than they do the ground. Instead of the “V” between the thumb and index finger pointing to the right shoulder as it’s traditionally taught to, it will point outside the shoulder in a strong grip. Because the arms tend to want to return to their natural position throughout the golf swing, starting with a very strong grip will promote a “turning over” of the club through impact. Sure, with perfect timing this looks like a nice draw. But, with poor timing, improper sequencing, or just too much strength for your own good, a strong grip is the biggest, most easily noticeable symptom of a seemingly incurable hook.

A Swing Out of Sequence

As already alluded to, a swing with the incorrect sequence can cause all sorts of issues, a hook being just one of them. When we talk about sequence, we’re referring to the order in which the body moves through the golf ball at impact. The correct order is as follows: hips, shoulders, arms, hands, club. Unfortunately, many golfers get it wrong right out of the gates with the hips. If the hips slide instead of rotate, or don’t do much of anything, there’s a greater likelihood the club will pass the hands and “cast” or “flip” at the ball, causing that dreaded immediate hook. 

There are many drills aimed at working on hip rotation, proper sequence, and lagging the club behind so that there is a feeling of separation between lower and upper body. Don’t forget, the golf swing is a very athletic movement we are tasking the body with. Pairing your playing routine with a golf-specific fitness regimen is a sure-fire way to become more aware of the planes on which your hips can (and should) move as well as strengthening and opening them to make the rotation in the golf swing a more accessible and easily achievable move, over and over again. Next time you’re at the range, see if you can feel what order your body is moving through impact in. Chances are, if you’re seeing a hook, the hips need to be more engaged and be the initiator of the rest of the swing.

Right Field Alignment

One of the most undervalued parts of the golf swing when it comes to places we look  for improved contact, greater consistency, or a correction in ball flight, both shape and trajectory, starts before the swing even begins, with alignment. It seems like one of the most simple aspects of the mechanical side to get right, but it’s overlooked far more often than it should be. Chances are, like most things in life, you have a tendency when it comes to lining up for a shot. Just like with other parts of the swing, it’s not uncommon to get in a rut of aiming too far one way or the other. What usually follows is an over-correction, creating a rut of the opposite kind. 

No matter how automatic your alignment feels or how “at the target” you think you are, if your feet and shoulders are aimed out to right field, your arms and club are going to compensate throughout the swing to try and save your shot from landing two fairways over. Next time you’re out, especially on the tee box, if a friend checks your setup from behind and notices a significantly misaligned stance, it would serve you well to spend your next range session with a mirror in your down-the-line peripheral view. This isn’t specific to a hook either, it’ll only produce the opposite, a slinging cut, if your tendency is towards left field! Without introducing a single mechanical change to the swing, proper alignment can make all the difference. 

A Finicky Club Face

While each of these first three causes can certainly stand alone to create a hook that leaves you with a punch out for your next shot, more times than not they are paired with a closed clubface. Even the most textbook swing can veer offline if the clubface begins one degree either open or closed. This is arguably the most frustrating aspect of golf. A shift in direction of the club face by an inch will result in 20-30 yards (or more) of unwanted shape. 

The key is in harnessing the ability for minute changes to create visible changes. This, paired with creativity, is what adds different shots to your arsenal without needing to groove multiple swing types for scenarios you may only use once a round, if not less. There are multiple clubface alignment tools on the market that give you a clear indication of exactly how tinkering with the clubface at address can inform the specific shot that lies ahead of you. Don’t be surprised if you do employ the help of a feedback device and find out what you once thought was square, is actually open or closed to your intended target line. This is a very common trick the eye likes to play on golfers. 

Get to the Root of the Issue

While none of these common causes for how to fix a hook is particularly complex on it’s own, what can seem overwhelming is diagnosing the reason for your specific hook tendencies. We hope these causes have given you some concrete ideas of what to look out for the next time you hit the links because, like anything in golf, once you’ve reached the root of the issue, it’s much easier to groove a new habit and improve upon previous poor ones. 

Like the old adage, “work smarter, not harder,” finding the primary cause of your hook (but leave room for a secondary cause, unfortunately) will help you reach a resolution much quicker, leading to getting the most out of your practice time by focusing on the proper techniques for the solution that matches your unique cause.  

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AUTHOR
Bobby Heckeroth
Bobby is the founder of FriendlyGolfer.com and is of course an avid golfer. He created the site after building a golf simulator in his garage and developing a passion for the technology that’s helped his game.

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