What Is A Duck Hook In Golf?

The duck hook is a destructive golf shot. We explain what it is and briefly highlight a few of the most likely causes

Duck hook in golf - alignment sticks
The duck hook is a shot that flies low and swings sharply right to left
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

What Is A Duck Hook In Golf?

Every golf shot that doesn’t fly straight has its own name, whether push, fade, slice, pull, draw or hook. For a right-handed golfer, pushes and pulls fly straight right or left respectively and can be destructive, depending on their severity.

Fades and draws curve gently right or left respectively, and these are often fine – most golfers move the ball a little one way or another, intentionally or naturally, and these gently curving shots will usually keep your ball in play if you’ve allowed for that shot shape.

Slices and hooks then take these curving right and left shots, respectively, to another level and usually end up in trouble as the ball veers significantly one way or the other. The duck hook, which we’re concerned with here, is an even more extreme version of the hook in which the ball not only flies with a big right-to-left curve, but never really gains much height. It also goes by the names of ‘snap hook’, ‘quick hook’ or ‘smother’.

Why is it called a duck hook? Almost certainly because the ball ducks away violently to the left, invariably leaving you in trouble and probably not very far up the hole, depending on the length of the rough. Because it flies low, it won’t carry far enough up the hole before straying from the short grass. However, if ground conditions are firm and nothing gets in its way (such as on a links course where two holes run side by side) it can run for miles as the right-to-left spin will see it bounding on much further than a ball spinning left-to-right, which will also typically fly much higher.

What causes it? Well, this is not an instruction article as such but some of our instruction content addresses the possible causes (for example, 'Hooking the ball? Try these simple tips' by Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach, Clive Tucker).

But briefly, the key things to look out for, with the assistance of another of our Top 50 coaches, Keith Wood, are...

Closed stance
Feet and shoulders point too far right of target so your swing path back into the ball is too much from the inside.

Duck hook - alignment issues

Duck hook recipe: feet and shoulders point too far right of target with clubface closed to target

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Closed clubface
This is likely to be pointing to the left of your target line.

Body stops rotating
If this happens through impact, the club and arms will then be moving faster than you, with the hands taking the club around the body and closing the clubface in the process.

Duck hook - body stops turning

Duck hook cause: body stops turning and hands close the clubface

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Too strong a grip
The upper hand sits on top of the grip too much and the lower hand too much underneath, which can lead to the hands becoming too active through the ball.

Duck hook - grip too strong

Duck hook cause: a strong grip like this can lead to the hands becoming too active

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)
Jeremy Ellwood
Jeremy Ellwood

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf