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Due to the aggressive right-to-left shape, a hook has the potential to land a golfer in all sorts of bother, especially when hitting the driver. So, in this video and article below, Andrew Reynolds looks at what causes this destructive shot and offers some advice for those in need!
What Causes A Hook?
It’s important to know the causes as well as what to do if you find yourself struggling with this shot. A common fault among golfers occurs at the start of the swing. Even when set up well, in the takeaway, the right elbow (left for left-handers) can drift sideways and away from the body. This shuts the clubface and, unless a compensation is made later in the swing, will cause the ball to start left of target and likely move further left.
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If this sounds like something you struggle with, focus on keeping the right elbow closer to your body in the takeaway. This will put the club in a more neutral position halfway back, with the toe pointing towards the sky and the heel towards the ground. Not only this, but it will make it easier to synchronise body, arms and club, leading to more consistency.
How To Fix A Hook
If you’re hitting hooks, another potential cause is an overly strong grip, with both hands turned too far to the right. This naturally delofts the clubface and means a big effort is required to square it back up at impact.
To cure this, stand at address without a club and let your arms hang down naturally before bringing your hands to the centre. When you do this, you’ll notice the palms face each other, which is effectively how you want to hold the club too, rather than having one on top of the other - this is an essential element in how to swing a golf club.
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As a checkpoint, you want to see no more than two and a half knuckles on your left hand when you look down. This will ensure the club doesn’t get as closed on the way back, allowing you to swing with more confidence and less fear of the left miss.
Over-releasing the club at impact can often result in consistent hooks as the margin for error is greatly reduced. The cause of this fault normally stems from a club that approaches the ball too far from the inside, meaning the hands need to get active to match everything up. This move increases the risk of hooking as it relies on perfect timing.
A useful drill to counter this is to make some swings using only your left hand. It’ll be quite hard to do initially as you’ll be fighting your natural tendencies but, over time, it will reduce the dominance of the right hand and give you a more stable clubface through the hitting zone.
Golfers are often guilty of hanging back as they move into the downswing in a bid to help the ball into the air. It feels intuitive as we’re often told to hit the ball on the up with the driver, but this can, and likely will lead to hooks as the body stops and the hands take over.
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Feel your feet are a little wider at address - it’s only marginal so be careful not to overdo it - and then work on getting the body through the shot. From the top, the feeling of pushing off with your right foot can often help with this.
Is A Hook Better Than A Slice?
This is a bit like asking whether it is better to stub your toe or bump your head. Neither is great! However, the truth is that a hook tends to have a more aggressive ball flight. It will be lower and have more pace so, as those who suffer with a hook will undoubtedly be aware, the ball will often chase into trouble.
Whether your are suffering with a hook or trying to fix a slice, you will need to devote some time on the range. If you can make small but incremental changes, it should make a big difference!
Location: Royal Cinque Ports
Andrew was appointed Head Professional at Royal Cinque Ports in 1978, aged just 23. He is only the sixth professional in the club's 125-year history. From 2010 to 2013, he was lead coach for the Mens England “A” squad and helped work with many established European Tour players. Andrew also enjoyed success on the European Senior Tour, most notably his top-20 finish in the Senior Open Championship at Turnberry.
Different golfers have different aims, so players' hopes must be discovered before a ball is struck. The player is buying our experience to take them on a journey which will, hopefully, exceed their expectations. I try to keep the learning experience fairly light to keep the player relaxed and make the time together enjoyable for us both. We generally need to ‘de-clutter’ players' golfing brains and put a filter system in place to help people understand the important factors.
Most significant influences:
Ernest Jones’s book, ‘Swing the Clubhead’, who stressed that if your set up was neutral, balanced and correct, all body actions were responsive to the club swinging. Peter Thomson, too. He chatted to Henry Longhurst, whom he allowed to explain his simple thinking - set up squarely, point the club at the target, take it away from the ball on the same path that the club attacks the ball on, then from the top of the backswing just bring it back to the ball. Both Jones and Thomson understood the difference between cause and effect. Modern technology allows us to analyse the golf swing in a very technical manner, which has now proved that both were ahead of their time in making a golf swing a simple exercise. We must remember that it’s the clubhead that we are swinging.
Advice for practice:
A structured and disciplined practice session is the only way to develop your golfing skills to the maximum. Always make sure that your setup is perfect before any swing begins - it’s pointless to work on a swing change with an inconsistent and changeable setup. A different setup means a different swing.
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