When a right-handed golfer’s tee shot curves to far to the left, the shot is described as a “hook.” This shot typically occurs when the club head moves across the ball from left to right, imparting side-spin on the ball. This is the same method by which a baseball pitcher throws a curve ball, but in the golfer’s case the excessive spin is unintentional. There are mechanical fixes that can help prevent a right-handed golfer from hooking the ball to the left, or a lefty from driving the ball too far to the right.
To avoid hooking the ball off the tee, all-time golf great Jack Nicklaus recommends playing a controlled fade, a shot which moves from left to right. To hit this shot take a smooth backswing “with very little wrist action,” Nicklaus says. At impact, be sure the palm of your right hand faces the target, and keep your right hand below the left as long as possible on your follow through, without allowing the right hand to roll over the left.
Rotate Your Body
Tiger Woods says most players who hook the ball “suffer from a lack of body rotation” that begins with the backswing. By failing to rotate fully on the backswing, golfers don’t shift their weight properly and tend to compensate by flipping their wrists on the downswing, striking the ball with a closed club face that may cause a hook. Woods suggests that players visualize the triangle created by their hands, arms and chest at address, then make sure that relationship “remains intact throughout the swing.”
Golf instructor Mitchell Spearman believes that many hooks are caused when players straighten their backs prior to impact rather than remaining bent forward. This forces players to “release the club early,” which closes the club face ahead of impact. To combat a hook, Spearman suggests widening your stance on the tee by moving the right foot back -- away from the target -- several inches. Also, as a drill, take a 6-iron to the practice tee and grasp the club near the bottom of the grip. Hitting the ball properly will require keeping your hands low and your rear end down, Spearman explains, rather than straightening up.
Turn, Turn, Turn
Teaching pro Rick Smith says a slow body turn is often the culprit when a player hits a hook. He advises players to “keep turning” on the follow-through. Smith says the midpoint of your body -- he refers to the “shirt buttons and belt buckle” -- should be aimed to the left of your target when you’ve completed your follow-threw.