The duck hook is a common swing fault that many golfers suffer from in addition to a nasty slice. If you’re not sure what a slice is, it’s when the ball curves from left to right when it’s on the flight. Many golfers call it the fade as well. A fade is good at times. But not when it curves excessively.
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.
Before we go any deeper, let’s find out what a duck hook is exactly.
What is a Duck Hook Golf Swing?
Most beginners start out slicing and eventually progress to a snap hook in their golf swing before finally achieving a straight golf swing ball flight.
But a golf 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.
A hook is when the golf ball swings to the left mid-air after the impact. For many beginners, it’s a huge problem. And in this post, we intend to fix it.
There are 3 major types of duck hooks (or snap hook if that’s how you refer to it).
The first type of hook is when the ball starts out to the right and then severely snap hooks left of the intended target. This is what most golfers would refer to as a “Normal Hook”. It’s not necessarily bad if you manage to land the ball on the target.
Straight Duck Hook
The second duck hook is a golf ball that starts out straight down the fairway before severely hooking left into the rough. This is the most common problem for the golfers who are missing the target. They know how to shoot straight, but the art of landing the ball on target is yet to be learned.
Pull Hook Golf Swing
The third driver 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.
What Causes Each of These 3 Different Duck Hooks?
A golf snap 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 swing 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 ball’s 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. This is one key reason driver snap hooks occur more often than iron snap hooks.
Here are the main reasons behind your duck hook golf swings.
The First Impact
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.
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 to the 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.
The Swing Path
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.
However, the 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 a clock wise 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.
Club Face Hitting Zone
This is one of the first things you must check about your swings. Where you hit the ball has a huge impact on how the ball will take off. If you tend to hit near the toe of the club, the ball will adhere more spin than usual. Hence, a duck hook or a bad slice.
To test it out, you can cover the club face entirely with your favorite kind of paint but make sure it easily comes off. A whiteboard marker can work very well in this case.
How you grip your iron or fairway wood has a huge influence on how your shot will play out. Most beginners tend to tense up while taking a shot and it manipulates the final flight path.
The textbook definition of ‘tensing up’ would be you holding the grip by twisting your left wrist to the inside of the club and getting your right hand underneath the grip.
As a result, when you take the shot, your wrist spins to the normal position, changing the angle of the club face. Hence, the severe curvature of the ball.
The backswing just before you hit the ball also has an impact on how the flight path will be. Take a close look the next time you take the backswing. I can most certainly say that your club face will be facing the earth.
And when you get to the top of your swing, the club face will be in a closed position instead of an open position. Also, take a look at your left wrist. If you’re bowing it down, you’re doing it wrong. The wrist must be straight with the forearm.
This mismatch between the club face angle during the backswing and the actual shot has been causing you to hit duck hooks consistently.
The Angle of the Stance
When you constantly hit duck hook golf swings, it’s only natural for you to try and fix it. And many of us subconsciously change the body angle to the right to compensate for the hook shot. If you don’t believe me, notice for yourself the next time you go out on the course.
In reality, the adjustment of your stance is increasing the angle of your club face and your target line, causing you to hit even more severe duck hooks.
How to Stop Hooking the Ball?
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. Lucky for you, we’ve already discussed these areas.
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 to remedy a golf hook. The best fix for your snap hook however, would be to see a professional swing instructor and getting their opinion as to why you are hooking the golf ball.
The Golf 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 remember, the greater the difference between our face angle and path angle, the more the ball is going to curve, hence the nasty duck hook.
Instead, we need to straighten out the swing path and get it back to a square to square motion instead of an inside to outside swing path motion.
Start By Analyzing Your Posture When Addressing the Golf Ball
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, leading to the snap hooking driver.
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.
Analyze Your Down Swing Club Position
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 to 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. In fact, most snap hooking driver shots result from flipping the hands at impact.
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.
Golf Swing Path Practice Drill
We have a driving range golf swing drill for you to try out to help fix your swing path and promote a straighter ball flight.
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 Golf Swing Release Fix
Another method to fix a duck hook golf swing is to perfect the clubhead release.
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 ball flight.
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 to Stop Snap Hooking
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, I mean 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.
You can use the strap of your glove as a measurement tool. Keep the strap facing your target instead of facing up.
The Golf Swing Alignment Fix
If you are hooking the golf ball back to the left of your intended target, you may simply have an alignment issue where you are aiming to the right of your target (for right handed players).
This improper stance alignment encourages an inside/out path in relation to your target line which can make your snap hook more severe.
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.
Final Words on How to Fix a Snap Hook Drive
As you may have learned from experience, a duck hook is a nasty ball flight to have and sends the ball much further left of your 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 so far to the right of your target at impact? If so, what is causing this severe 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.
All of these factors make it difficult to determine on your own and that’s 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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