If you find yourself with a nasty duck hooking golf shot, then you are not alone. This is a common swing fault that many golfers suffer from in addition to a nasty slice.
The good news is you’re close to achieving a good golf swing because a hook is usually the last stop on the road to a good golf swing. Most beginners start out slicing and eventually progress to a hook before finally achieving a great golf swing.
But a hook is still a ball-flight problem you need to take care of to make that next step and become a scratch or near-scratch player.
There are 3 major types of duck hooks.
- The first is when the ball starts out to the right and then severely hooks left of the intended target. This is what most golfers would refer to as a “Normal Hook.”
- The second duck hook is a golf ball that starts out straight down the fairway before severely hooking left into the rough.
- The third duck hook and probably the least fun is a duck hook that starts left and hooks even further left ending up in the rough or perhaps out of bounds on the left side of the golf course.. This is commonly referred to as a “Pull Hook.”
What causes each of these 3 different duck hooks?
A hook is caused by a combination of the club face angle at impact and swing path into the ball at impact. The more these two factors are out of whack, the more severe your duck hook is going to be.
Growing up we were all taught that the ball starts in the direction of your swing path (where the club head is travelling) and then curves and ends up in the direction of where your club face was at impact.
However, we know now with the advent of launch monitors and improvements in technology that it’s really the face that has the biggest influence on the balls initial direction after impact. The Trackman system found that face has a 75% influence on the ball’s initial direction with your irons and 85% with your driver.
Take a second to ingrain this concept into your memory..
The way the golf ball starts out initially has everything to do with the angle of the club face at impact when it strikes the golf ball.
Imagine a basketball rolling towards a wall. If the wall is angled, then the basketball won’t bounce straight back off the wall. Instead it will bounce off the wall in the direction that the wall is angled.
Same with a golf ball. It naturally wants to go in the direction that the club face is angled.
If your club face is open at impact, its pointing right of your target and thus it will start the ball right of your target.
If the face is square, the ball will head straight initially before duck hooking.
Lastly, if the face is closed at impact, it will be pointing left of the target and thus this will be the direction the ball starts out initially as a result before hooking even further to the left of the target.
This reality I just shared with you is counter intuitive to what most golfers think causes the initial direction of the golf ball. Most beginners believe it to be swing path that is the cause of the ball starting right, straight or left of the target initially.
Swing path is actually what creates the spin on the ball. When the swing path comes from the inside and heads out to the right of the target, it causes counter clockwise spin on the golf ball at impact. Imagine in your mind a golf ball spinning counter clock wise and it will make sense why it hooks from right to left in the air.
Alternatively, a swing path to the inside of the target line is going to cut across the golf ball creating clockwise spin on the golf ball. This clock wise spin makes the ball fly left to right in the air which is known as a slice.
If you’re still struggling to grasp the concept, think of tennis. Someone cutting down on the ball creates back spin. Cutting up at the ball creates top spin. Cutting left across the ball creates slice spin (left to right) and cutting right across the ball creates hook spin.
How to Fix a Duck Hook?
To correct a duck hook you need to figure out why you are swinging inside/out through impact and getting the face closed at impact. This requires a close investigation of your grip, posture, alignment, swing path, swing plane and release.
Sounds like a lot, I know. But you there could be many different reasons behind someone’s swing path and face angle at impact in the golf swing.
Let’s run through some different fixes you could try. The best fix however, would be to see a professional swing instructor and getting their opinion as to why you are duck hooking.
The Swing Path Fix:
I find with some students when they see the ball starting left and then curving even more left, their instinct is to swing the club out to right field as far as they can to correct the problem.
Unfortunately, this exacerbates the problem, because the greater the difference between our face and path, the more the ball is going to curve, hence the nasty duck hook instead of a less intense hook.
Instead, we need to straighten out the swing path and get it back to a square to square motion instead of inside to outside.
Start by analyzing your posture.
If you are leaning back too much on your rear side or getting your rear shoulder too low at impact it’s going to encourage an excessive inside takeaway. Make sure that you feel more stacked (shoulders on top of hips) and that your weight is 50/50 with your irons and just a bit more on your backside 40/60 with your driver.
In addition to an inside takeaway, we also want to analyze our down swing club position. When the club head lags behind the chest, it gets trapped and comes from the inside through impact. The last thing you want to do when duck hooking is get the club behind you too much and get it trapped. This can cause you to flip the hands and wrists to catch up the club head, which only creates a shut face in addition to an inside to out swing path.
Try keeping the club and your arms in front of your chest throughout the swing. It’s where they started at address, so don’t change that relationship. This will help the swing stay on plane instead of getting trapped behind you, forcing an inside swing path to catch up.
Swing Path Practice Drill:
Set down your driver’s head cover 6 inches to a foot ahead of the golf ball and to the right. This serves as a road block, forcing your swing path to curve back left after impact to avoid hitting the head cover.
If you hit the head cover on your follow through, it’s a sign that your swing path is heading to the outside which is what we are trying to fix.
You can also set down a curved pool noodle or other structure that can act as a wall/barrier, forcing you to adjust your swing path back inside to avoid the wall/barrier.
The Release Fix:
Losing your timing or sequence through impact can certainly cause the club face to shut too quickly. Be sure to keep a solid kinematic sequence in your swing allowing body parts to fire in the correct order.
That means you start your downswing from the ground up firing your hips first, then your shoulders, then your arms and then your hands.
If you get out of sequence and start firing with your upper body first in the downswing it’s easy to get the face closed and create the nasty duck hook.
The Body Turn Fix:
If you’re afraid of hitting the ball left of your target, your tendency is to slow your body turn. You think if your upper torso turns left of the target, the ball will follow.
Ironically, the opposite is true. By slowing or even stopping your turn toward the target (inset), your arms and hands whip through the hitting area and shut the clubface, producing that dreaded snap hook.
To prevent the clubface from getting shut at impact, you’ve got to keep turning your torso. It’s hard to convince yourself to do this, but you have to trust it.
Let your chest and hips rotate forward until your shirt buttons and belt buckle point left of your target. This stops the clubface from flipping closed and will help keep your ball in play.
The Grip Fix:
A strong grip is another common error I see with players who have a duck hook and curve the ball too much from right to left. When the right hand drifts to the right–away from the target–and moves underneath the club, it will tend to turn over too much through impact.
To calm that hook down to a manageable draw, adjust your right hand to a more neutral position so your palm is facing more to the downside than facing up. In other words, we need your palm facing back towards your target and not away from it.
The Alignment Fix:
If you are hooking, you may simply have an alignment issue where you are aiming to the right of your target (for right handed players).
This encourages an inside/out path in relation to your target line.
Check to make sure that you are setting up square to your target line with your feet, knees, hips, shoulders and forearms. Here is a photo example of what “square to your target line” looks like.
Concluding Thoughts on the Duck Hook:
As you have learned from experience, a duck hook is a nasty ball flight to have and sends the ball much further left of target than a minor hook or draw ball flight.
To cure the duck hook, you need to analyze both your swing path and face angle at impact.
Are you swinging to far to the right of your target at impact? If so, what is causing this inside to outside swing path?
Are you shutting the face at impact? If so, what is causing the face to close at impact?
It could be a combination of grip, posture, stance, alignment, swing path, swing plane, and release. This makes it difficult to determine on your own and why we recommend seeing a professional swing instructor. A professional swing instructor can analyze your swing and give you the one on one personal attention needed to fix the issue.
But if you’d like to go the DIY route which is largely what golf is, then try out the different fixes listed in today’s article now that you have a better understanding of the golf swing.
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