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3 ways to get your game “off the hook”

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Hooking the golf ball is often referred to as a “better golfer’s problem,” while slicing is seen as the domain of the duffer.

My response: “So what?” The left rough is every bit as deep as the right rough, and O.B. left still gets re-teed! Hooking the ball is every bit as detrimental to your golf game, and it needs to be corrected. But, not unlike slicing, the correction often involves a fix that is entirely counter-intuitive.

Here’s three ways to eliminate the nasty hook from your game.

Weaken your bottom-hand grip

Often I find the bottom hand (the right hand for right-handers) is the culprit. I’ve seen a lot of low hooks with a neutral left-hand grip, but the minute the right hand gets under the club, even a little bit, look out left.

If you’re hitting a low hook, try to get the “V” on top of your right hand pointed to your right eye, or at least your right shoulder. Also, if you’re fighting a hook, I might suggest a slight turn to the left with both hands, but I personally don’t like to get the left-hand too weak. The left-hand “V” is pointed to right shoulder for most powerful players.

In general, I believe grips are much stronger than they were years ago. If you see the finish of modern elite players with the golf club more across their body and parallel to the ground when they finish, this is generally an indication of a stronger grip.

Johnny Miller has a great video on this concept:

Assuming you get the grip correct, let’s tackle the swing.

Swing left and get your body moving 

When a golfer hooks the ball, the strong impulse is to swing more and more right of the target (inside-out), which is like pouring salt in the wound. You need to develop a “straighter” swing path, one that’s less out to the right, and more across. It will literally feel like you are coming over the top.

That’s right. If the golf ball is going left, only a more left swing path will straighten it out. Golf is a crazy game, I know!

The key to swinging more left and correcting that inside-out path is to feel the upper body begin opening as you start the downswing. The right side should stay high and come OUT toward the golf ball. I doubt very much that this will actually happen, but you need to feel like it is. The lower body will not, in and of itself, correct your swing path. In fact, focusing on opening the lower body often leads to dropping the club more inside, which we definitely don’t want. If you can feel like you “open up” early with your chest, the arms may very well stay UP longer, thus forcing the club on a better path into the golf ball.

Drill: Hit balls on a downhill lie, and feel like you are swinging very steep, down and left through impact. If you come too far from the inside, or “underneath” the ball, you’ll hit the ground first. Focus on making solid contact, and this feeling may fix your hook.

Move your ball position forward

Here’s another paradox: move the ball well forward in the stance to fix a hook. With the golf ball up front, you have a much better chance of contacting the golf ball on the “inside” part of the arc. By inside I mean, a good swing arc is from inside to inside, so by moving the golf ball forward, it will help you catch the ball on the latter part of that arc, which is naturally headed more left.

Drill: Hit drivers off the ground, or “off the deck.” Move the ball out by your left toe, open the face of the driver a little and hit some outside-in slices. You will feel the difference immediately.

Final thoughts

So, in conclusion, to fix the hook you should try to weaken the right hand a bit, move the golf ball forward in your stance and get that body moving through impact! Be aggressive with the turn through the ball, and you’ll see less hooks and a higher ball flight!

Note: I’m currently teaching in Pennsylvania for a few months, so if any of you are near Western Pa., give me a call. Or if you would like to take advantage of my online analysis program, visit my Facebook page or email me at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Gus

    Sep 24, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    are you a wizard? i just started hooking the ball after finally overcoming a 5-year slice, and for the first time, like you said in the first tip i’m noticing my finish with the club parallel and close to my back, hands by my ears, sort of like Rory’s finish. everything you delineated in this article i realized is in my game–definitely some great ideas to take to the range.

  2. Dennis Clark

    Sep 14, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Yes. The swing may be a little too steep too.

  3. Anthony

    Sep 14, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I weaken my right hand over the summer (right handed golfer). Immediately took the snap hooks out. I am hitting my irons so much higher and straighter. It was not easy to weaken my right hand though, I needed to use a grip reminder to even hit the ball when I first made the change.

    Now that I have neutralized my grip, I am leaving the driver a little out to the right though. So now i am experimenting with strengthening my left hand but keeping my right hand more neutral, at least with the driver. Good idea?

  4. Double C

    Sep 14, 2015 at 9:08 am

    The weak right hand tip is great. I tried it on Saturday and hit it the best I have all year. It makes it very difficult to hook the ball.

  5. Dennis Clark

    Sep 13, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    you’re welcome; always good to hear improvement. That’s why we do this work!

  6. Nevin

    Sep 13, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Thank you for the very helpful article. I used suggestions one and two today and it definitely helped with my tendency to hook left especially when there is water left.

  7. Evan

    Sep 11, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Any pros in your stable, Steve? I believe his audience (and clients) are amateur players. Why would a pro fighting a hook be reading a GolfWRX article… They’re not. Not sure what you’re criticizing, his advice is solid and he has been teaching this audience (amateurs) successfully for years.

    Pipe down and pay attention, you might learn something.

  8. Dennis Clark

    Sep 11, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    be careful of this; an open club face tends to take the club away a little too inside; a closed face tends to take it away outside. square is good

  9. Ron Schataz

    Sep 11, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Making sure that the clubface is in the proper position as you take it back is important as well. A closed face will promote a hook. I practice taking the club back about belt high and making sure the clubface is not hooded before taking my actual swing. This gives me some muscle memory and puts a positive swing thought in my head as well. It has cured my hook, too.

  10. Derek

    Sep 11, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Great insight Dennis and I had help resolving my slice by opening my stance closing my shoulders slightly at address and swinging in to out. I stopped slicing straight away but had some amazing hooks, especially with the driver. I tried a weaker left hand grip and tried to swing more in to out thinking it would help but didn’t so had a laugh reading this. I definitely have a strong right hand grip and it would be easy enough to calm the in to out swing path and getting my body rotation through the ball. Thanks for the drills and looking forward to giving them a go.

  11. mlecuni

    Sep 11, 2015 at 3:21 am

    Nice video from Mr Miller, i like his explanations here.

  12. Zachary Jurich

    Sep 11, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Ive spent the better half of the last 2 years playing a high hook with virtually every club in the bag while at same time playing the ball a lot more forward than most. Im capable of hitting great shots in bunches, but sometimes my irons can really start going left. I’ll have to give weakening my right hand a shot! Thank you Mr. Clark

  13. Dennis Clark

    Sep 11, 2015 at 12:29 am

    exactly, and when the pressure gets on, it is even harder to turn the body. Relaxed muscles help a lot

  14. other paul

    Sep 10, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I hit a high hook all summer. I had a fast lower body, slow upper body (as in shoulders barley open at all, and fast arms and hands. All I did was speed the body up and open a bit more. Voila. 170 yard 9 irons. Love it. So pumped to finish the season now.

    • Jack

      Sep 10, 2015 at 11:26 pm

      That’s nice. You hit your 9 iron further than most pros.

      • Timbleking

        Sep 11, 2015 at 2:58 am

        Yeah dude! Me as well.

        Sh** happens…

  15. My bad

    Sep 10, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    *I think people quit rotating

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 11, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      Yep. especially when under pressure or too tight. RELAX and turn through

  16. Gubment Cheeze

    Sep 10, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I had hooks so bad the ball wouldn’t get off the ground
    My fix was actually strengthening my bottom hand and keeping the palm facing up…limited face rotation
    But I think you have to have a nice swing path too

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 11, 2015 at 12:32 am

      Paul Azinger played world class golf with a strong grip and his swing thought was “knuckles up” through impact. It can be done just tough to do.

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