Hook vs. Slice: Learn the Difference and How to Fix Them
Hook vs Slice: Learn How to Tell These Shots Apart, What Causes Them in the First Place, and How to Fix Your Shot Once and For All
What is a hook vs slice? How do these nightmare shots happen? And how can you make the nightmare end?
If you struggle with golf shots that curve dramatically to the left or right, you’re either a chronic slicer or you’re constantly hooking the ball. Neither shot is much fun. Those wayward flight paths take you way off course and add unnecessary strokes to your scorecard.
That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news.
Both hooks and slices are pretty easy to fix. They both have reputations as insurmountable challenges in the game of golf, but that’s only because many golfers are working with bad information.
I’m about to walk you through everything you need to know to get rid of your hook or slice. I’ll explain:
- The difference between a hook vs slice
- What you may be doing to cause your golf slice or hook shot
- How you can fix your slice or hook once and for all
Let’s dive in.
Hook vs. Slice: What’s the Difference?
In order to understand how to fix your hook or slice, you need to know which shot you’re making. Beginner golfers are especially prone to confusing a hook vs. slice.
It makes sense to be confused. In both shots, the golf ball curves way off your intended flight path. Both the hook and the slice can kill your progress on a hole. And both these golf shots have the same root issue:
Poor face control.
What Hooks and Slices Have in Common
As we walk through all the possible setup and golf swing errors that could be causing your hook or slice, remember:
All unwanted curvature of the ball begins with a failure to control the club face. Even shots that are too high relate to club face orientation. If you have the face tilted skyward, you give it too much loft and pop the ball high instead of hitting it long.
Whether you are hooking or slicing, the problem stems from the orientation of your club face at impact.
What is a Hook?
If you are a right-handed golfer, a hook shot starts to the right of the target then veers toward the left mid-flight. When you hook the golf ball, it lands well to the left of the target.
If you are left-handed, reverse that. A hook starts to the left of the target and curves drastically towards the right.
A hook happens when you deliver a closed club face to the golf ball at the moment of impact. “Closed” means the club faces is rotated in towards your body.
What is a Slice?
A slice is the opposite of a hook. For a right-handed golfer, a slice begins to the left of the target and curves back to the right.
Once again, the definition is the opposite for left-handed golfers.
While a hook is the result of a closed club face, a slice is caused by an open club face.
Now, my fellow golf instructors may want to interject and remind me that you can also slice the golf ball with a closed club face. For the sake of simplicity, we’re just working with this far more common hook vs. slice formula today:
- Closed = Hook
- Open = Slice
So, How Do You Fix a Hook or a Slice?
Despite all the health benefits of golf, you don’t just play this sport for the sake of your wellness, right? You do it for the satisfaction of watching your golf ball cut a clean, high path straight down the fairway.
So how do you get rid of your hook or slice and enjoy the game more?
There are a few different factors that could interfere with your face control, ranging from your golf grip to your golf swing. I’m going to walk you through the most common problems and how you can check to see if you’re making these mistakes.
What Causes a Hook vs Slice in Golf
A lot of golfers cringe at the thought of a “face control issue.”
The moment of impact happens in a split second. How are you supposed to notice an error in face orientation and fix it between the top of the backswing and impact?
You don’t. You just have to know what happens in your swing before the downswing. For the most part, the position of the face at impact is determined by its position on the takeaway and the top of the backswing. It’s much easier to notice and adjust poor technique in those areas.
You might also find it encouraging to know that you can tell whether you have the club face open or closed based on certain body positions. It’s all in the upper body and the wrists. You don’t have to actually look at the club face. You just have to feel what your body is doing.
What Causes a Slice?
As I mentioned above, slicers (typically) deliver an open club face at impact. Luckily, you can fix it pretty easily.
Upper Body Position
Check your setup position. Is your upper body tilted towards the target?
When you lean your upper body towards the target, your golf swing naturally works out-to-in. This almost inevitably leads to a slice.
Now take a look at your wrists, first on the takeaway and then at the top of your backswing.
If you’re a frequent slicer, you might notice that you cup your lead wrist on the takeaway or the top of the backswing (or both). To determine if you’re cupping, use the logo of your golf glove for a reference point.
If the logo points toward the sky on the takeaway, your club face is open. You are going to slice the golf ball.
If the logo points too far downward at the top of your backswing, once again, you’ve opened the club face. Expect another slice.
What Causes a Hook?
For a hook, you’re looking for signs that you’ve closed the club face. Once again, check your upper body or wrist movement.
Upper Body Position
If you tend to hook the golf ball, you might be tilting your upper body too far away from the target at setup.
While a little tilt in this direction is a good thing and can even help you hit a nice, high draw, too much tilt is a recipe for disaster. An extreme lean shifts the circle of your golf swing to a very strong in-to-out motion. The club drags to the inside on the takeaway, closing the club face.
In other words, you’re going to hook it.
As for your wrists, check them on the takeaway and at the top of your swing.
If your lead wrist works too far underneath too early in the swing, you wind up closing the club face. To put it another way, check to see if you are rotating that lead wrist down and toward the ground.
If you are, you’re also closing the club face and directing the club head too far behind your body.
Then, at the top of the backswing, notice if the logo of your golf glove points too far toward the sky. (You’ll really feel the extension in the back of your wrist.) If you’re making this mistake, you’re going to hook the ball.
Now that you know what’s causes a hook vs. slice, let’s talk about how to fix it. Here are some tips for hitting more controlled shots on your next eighteen holes.
Swing Changes to Fix a Slice or Hook
Once you’ve located the source of your slicing or hooking problem—upper body or wrist, takeaway or top of the backswing—you can work on fixing the issue.
Here are some tips and drills that will help you start hitting straighter, more controlled golf shots.
Adjusting Your Upper Body
While the upper body error is different whether you struggle with a hook vs. slice, the solution is the same. As I mentioned before, you do want to tilt slightly away from the target. But too much tilt causes a hook.
To find the perfect tilt:
- Take your regular golf stance.
- Hold your golf club against your chest, perpendicular to the ground. The handle should be in line with your zipper or buttons.
- Tilt away from the target.
- When the club head hits your lead knee or thigh, you’ve gone far enough.
Now, here are a couple drills to help you feel the effects of an improved tilt.
Upper Body Drill for Golfers Who Slice
You can do this drill using an iron or a driver.
- Take your setup.
- Use the directions above to find the correct upper body tilt.
- Rest the club head on the ground behind the ball.
- Move your head so it’s just over your trail foot.
- Rotate your hips back.
- Swing the arms up and then swing through.
When you do this drill, you feel the benefits of that improved upper body position. You can see that you’re an excellent position at the top of the swing to deliver a square club face for controlled impact.
Upper Body Drill for Golfers Who Hook
This drill has exactly one step:
- Take your golf swing while balanced on your lead leg only.
The beauty of this drill is that it forces you to rotate through the center of your body. This naturally corrects the upper body tilt, because tilting too far forward knocks you off balance.
Correcting Your Wrist Movement
If the problem is in your wrists, you can correct the issue pretty easily by paying attention to the logo on your glove.
Now, before we dive in, I want to clarify that the following instructions assume you are using a neutral golf grip. If you have a strong or weak grip, you may need to make other adjustments to compensate for the way your grip influences face position.
Just as is the case with upper body position, the directions for fixing improper wrist motion are the same whether you’re trying to overcome a hook vs. slice.
Proper Wrist Movement for Golfers Who Slice or Hook the Golf Ball
Look for two checkpoints.
First, check what your wrists are doing on the takeaway. You want to feel the hands work slightly in, with the logo rotating slightly towards the golf ball. Just make sure you don’t have the logo twists dramatically towards the ground. That’s what causes a hook.
Second, note what happens at the top of your backswing. You want to split the difference between pointing the logo too far skyward or too far downward. Try to aim your golf glove logo toward the spot where a caddie would be standing.
Another way to say it is that golfers who slice should feel the logo rotate more towards the sky than they normally wood. Players who hook their golf shots should feel the logo rotate more downward.
There are a lot of phrases used to expand upon a hook vs slice, which may get many amateur golfers confused. Let’s run through the terms and get a quick explanation of what each is.
Pull Slice vs Push Slice
The most common ball direction for an amateur golfer is without question the slice. The way in which the ball slices is an open club face or an out to in club path.
The push slice is the result of both of these causes occurring at once. For a right handed golfer, the ball starts out to the right of the target because the golf face is open and continues to move right due to the out to in club path.
The pull slice has the out to in club path but differs from the push slice because it has a shut face rather than an open one. This causes the ball to start left of the target and slice back the right.
Pull Hook, Snap Hook, Duck Hook
Compared to the slice, the hook is obviously caused in the opposite way. By having a shut club face and an in to out club path.
The pull hook is caused by a slightly closed face along with an in to out club path and will start left of the target and will continue to move left.
The snap hook will generally start on line or just barely left of the target and will snap hard from right to left. This is caused by having a very high in to out club path.
The duck hook is caused by having an extremely high in to out club path and a club face that is completely shut pointing well left of the target. This type of hook shot doesn’t typically get very high off the ground and will have little to no ball spin.
The Importance of Swing Path
The direction in which the ball moves while in its ball flight is directly correlated to your swing path. An in to out swing path will lead to a golf draw, while an out to in club path will lead to a golf slice.
The most common ball flight for amateur golfers is typically the golf slice. The out to in swing path move is very normal and you shouldn’t feel bad if this is your usual miss.
One way to try and lessen the common golf slice miss is to try to work your swing path more towards the in to out movement. For a lot of amateur golfers this isn’t going to be easy. But over time, you’ll start to see a ball flight that is much higher and straighter.
Understanding Why Golfers Hook and Slice Off the Tee
Hooks and slices will break your heart, especially off the tee. Driving should be fun, and that first shot sets the tone for the entire hole. If you get off to a bad start, it’s hard to stay positive all the way to the green.
You’ve probably gotten the idea by now, but I really want to drive the point home. If you are having trouble with shots off the tee that curve in any direction, your problem is face control.
On the takeaway, you want the leading edge of your club face to be at a 45-degree angle in relation to the ground. If it’s rotated up, it’s open, and you’re likely to slice. If it’s rotated down, it’s closed, and you’re likely to hook.
You want the same thing on the other side of your swing. After impact, when your club is out in front of you and parallel to the ground, you should have a 45-degree angle on your club face.
We’ve already gone over solutions for fixing a hook vs. slice. Now I want to share one last drill that will help you fix either problem the next time you’re at the tee box.
This drill will help you fix the slice and fix the hook.
Face Control Drill
This drill is all about checkpoints and getting the feel of proper form.
- Take your setup.
- Swing back until your lead arm is parallel to the ground. Check that the club face is square.
- Swing through and finish with both arms parallel to the ground, extended and straight.
- Make sure your club face is still square.
As you practice your golf swing at this slower speed, checking your form, you start to feel what a proper swing feels like.
Then, you reap the benefits in your next round.
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