Connect with us


Understanding “open-faced hooks”



At the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Dustin Johnson hit an ugly quacker (read snap hook) off the tee on Tuesday afternoon that was headed in the general direction of Haleakala. After the shot, NBC’s broadcast team, Johnny Miller and Gary Koch, decided to take a look at what happened.

They zoomed in to impact using the high-speed Konica Minolta Swing Vision Camera and saw that as Johnson’s club collided with the ball, his club face opened — massively!  The booth went silent briefly, as Miller and Koch were flummoxed by the fact that Johnson’s club face was opened and he still managed to hook it off the planet. After realizing that they had dead air, they probably figured:

“Hey, we have to say something!”

So Miller went on to talk about how Johnson must have opened the face at impact to try and hook the ball less, or that maybe he was trying to fade the ball, but opened the club too late. Sound hard to believe? That’s because it’s total nonsense.

Here’s what actually happened — when the golf ball collided with the toe of Johnson’s club, the face opened and gave the ball hook spin. It’s a phenomenon called horizontal gear effect, which is what created the spin axis that caused Johnson’s ball to hook. To say or believe anything otherwise is to go against what science knows. DJ hit a toe hook; it couldn’t have been more obvious.

This harks back to an article I wrote some time ago about controlling the face after impact, in which I pointed out that a player CANNOT control the face upon and immediately after collision if the hit misses the center of the face. But apparently Miller and the old school team still seem to think you can. I was saddened to hear the announcers try to explain what happened using antiquated theories that have since been proven wrong by Dopplar radar systems such as TrackMan and FlightScope, as well as other new technologies.

I am not going out of my way to criticize Johnny Miller, Gary Koch or anyone else at the network, but I am saying this: The job of commentating on national television brings with it a great responsibility to the viewers. The vast majority of viewers will take the word of these experts as Gospel; no questions asked. So they have the responsibility to stay abreast of all the latest science and what is being learned about impact.

It would be easy for me, as a teacher, to bury my head in the sand, never read another book, never attend another seminar and just go on teaching what I taught before the enlightement era. But I can’t. I am a professional. I charge for my services, and therefore have the responsibility to my students to learn all we know TODAY. I would think the famous ex-players who comment on swings and things should have the same responsibility. In this case, explaining to the audience what caused DJ to hit a toe hook might have been of great help to many watching and listening.

Like it or not, we are living in the “teacher era.” Gone are the days when the top players teach golf. Why? Because staying on top of all the latest information is a full-time job. It is wonderful to hear Miller and others tell us about how they played certain shots, course management, reading greens and how to handle pressure — for that, I’m all ears. But as for impact principles and swing science, Miller and Koch are still living in the days they played, and I think we should hold them to a higher standard.

As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.

Click here for more discussion in the “Instruction & Academy” forums.


Your Reaction?
  • 7
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

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



  1. Dennis Clark

    Jan 31, 2013 at 9:41 am

    path to face insignificant with extreme toe or heel hits. Could be +5, 0, or -5 path and toe will still have hook spin. Lie angle with 8 degree club has minimal effect compared to say 60 degree wedge.

  2. paul

    Jan 22, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Great point! However, until we know how upright/flat his driver head is, we cannot know how much of the hook was caused by the gear effect. It also depends on club path. That is, if he swung 10* in to out, then 9* open face will still draw the ball. If the driver head is 7* upright, which is not unusual for a driver, then it will exaggerate the hook. That means that even if it was not toe shot, you can still hit a hook if by an in to out club path and an upright lie angle. Lie angle contributes to the side spin significantly.

    By the way, I didn’t watch the tournament, but did they actually show where on the club face the impact was made? If so, how far off the center?

  3. Austin

    Jan 15, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Good info and comments. Thanks DC.

  4. John

    Jan 14, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Sounds like an extreme version of the ol’ “toe-ball draw.” I’m good for at least one and as many as three a round.

  5. paul

    Jan 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    Last summer i was driving a ball with a terrible shaft in my 909 D2, i hit a tried to kill it at the start of a long par 5, I caught the ball on the toe and could feel the shaft twist. i saw the ball start off left then hook right (yes Im left). It blew my mind because I didn’t know that was possible. Nice to read an article on it, though it wasn’t that tough to figure out what happened when you hold the club, but probably harder to understand when you are watching it on tv.

  6. Doug

    Jan 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    The center and heel portion of the club head travel forward faster than the toe, since they are not “restricted” due to running into the mass of the golf ball, like the toe. This is the same as the clubhead rotating clockwise, while it is in contact with the golf ball. The golf ball rotates CCW (like a gear would) and boom you get hook spin. Not even Johnny Miller can stop the club head from rotating, much less Chuck Norris. The roatation itself (torsional compliance) can come all of the above: shaft twist, club grip twist, gripping, hand/wrist rotation. Yes I am an engineer.

    • andy

      Jan 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      Nice exlanation Doug…you should have been in that booth with JM & PK.

    • Dennis Clark

      Jan 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      There is also evidence to suggest that the head of the club has no influence at this point; that it is basically a free flying object through the ball sans player control? Again as a teacher, not a scientist, this is not my professional area of expertise but maybe you science-minded types might find it interesting to kick it around. Enjoyed the engineering perspective Doug, DC

      • 4G

        Jan 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm

        That depends on HOW MUCH WEIGHT you have on the toe or the heel. The amount of force generated horizontally = fulcrum point = of the hosel will influence how much twisting there is at that point, therefore the shaft. To counter that effect, if you were to have enough weight towards the toe = would probably mean a HUGE swingweight to that end = you might lessen the twisting gear = but you also would have to be able to hang on to it! And by HUGE weight, I mean as much as it is necessary to counter the hit force generated at impact to equal the stabilizing of the shaft twist at the hosel. Ya dig? The opposite would be true, of course, if you were to have NO WEIGHT at all whatsoever at the toe but all the weight on the heel = that is, way above the total head of the club, lets say = can you imagine the twist? You would have no control over the toe end of the club.

        • 4G

          Jan 14, 2013 at 1:09 pm

          Sorry, what I forgot to add was:
          imagine a door with the hinge. The hinge would be the hosel/shaft. What would you have to to make the door from NOT swinging, thereby making the handle end to move equally in one direction thereby knocking the door down cleanly off its hinge? That’s the resistance at the hinge, you see? And that’s the tricky thing about engineering a club head that works well with all these weight configurations and such.

    • Rohan

      Jan 29, 2013 at 7:49 am

      Hi Guys, glad to see people catching on. I use global play golfs impact analyser and have seen these results for six years now but nobody believed me. Seeing wether the head is moving counter clockwise (ccw)or clockwise before impact and what happens during and after impact is essential to teach and club fit these days

  7. MainMan

    Jan 13, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Surely you aren’t going out of your way to criticize the Announcing Booth, but in an article titled “Understanding The Open Faced Hook”, there is only one paragraph about the open faced hook, and the rest is criticizing the booth. I love your tips and articles, but this one fell kind of short, according to the title. No offense.

    • Dennis Clark

      Jan 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      No offense taken and all comments welcome…Maybe a better title might have been, “understanding Horizontal Gear Effect”. Maybe next Ill do something on not hitting the toe…Thx DC

  8. yo!

    Jan 13, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Funny that I came across this article again. Different type of shot but made me think about how a shot is made. Dogleg right and I tried to hit a fade with an open stance and weak grip. It was a soft draw. Not exactly sure how I did that. Thankfully, shot still worked out ok.

  9. stevie lee

    Jan 12, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    even i was able to tell he opened ‘too much’ and created hook by reading your article while back… i was also sad to head what the announcers said about his swing.

    • Dennis Clark

      Jan 12, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      Steve: not so much “he” opened- more like he couldnt stop it from opening when the contact was that much out on the toe. Not even the worlds strongest man can resist the twist. Thanks for reading. DC

      • stevie lee

        Jan 13, 2013 at 10:07 am

        i thought DJ had in to out swing path and opened club face to hit a draw but opened ‘too much’ and that created snap hook. so you are say that his club face got twisted as he made contact with the ball at toe, so my question is that does that contribute to the ball flight as well? or it does not because it got twisted after the impact? or does it contribute ever so slightly? thank you very much!

  10. Josh

    Jan 12, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Not even a mention of swing path? I know how gear effect works, but I do not believe simply hitting off the toe created the “snap hook”

    • Dennis Clark

      Jan 12, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      Final comment here: face to path causes curve WHEN THE CENTER OF GRAVITY OF THE CLUB AND THE CENTER LINE OF THE BALL MEET. Today i saw a 4 degree closed face (closed TO THE PATH)create right axis tilt and a fade. Again when you see these readings day in and day out, they are as clear as a bell. I read the machine, i watch the ball, voila!Thx for reading. DC

  11. tlmck

    Jan 12, 2013 at 9:11 am

    All I know is I play a nice tight draw with my 2 degree open face angle driver.

  12. yo!

    Jan 11, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Technical stuff probably not suitable for TV commentators or for their audience. Not sure if Dennis would be a suitable TV commentator, but he is easily one of the best writer with useful information for GolfWRX.

  13. Steve

    Jan 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    So, as a follow-up…since the clubhead opened as a result of the off center toe contact, does the shaft twist, does the shaft tur within your grip, or are your hands moved as a result?

    • Amir

      Jan 12, 2013 at 9:05 am

      IMO the whole club goes in the initial direction that it was intended to, but it’s because of the face being closed in relation to its path. Imagine swinging to a tree that is 30 yards right , but your clubface is pointing at a bunker which is 15 yards right (both in relation to the target[the flag]). That difference is what caused the “hook spin” or in trackman terms , axis tilt which causes the ball to spin to the left.

  14. Dennis Clark

    Jan 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I think listening, reading and all forms of learning are best done with a questioning mind. Thx for comments

  15. Nihonsei

    Jan 11, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Yes great article, I read another recently that spoke of open face draws with a sing plane even further right! Thanks for the updated info but science as truth??? That’s like saying that Pi never terminates, oh it? Ohhh???

  16. Mat t Newby, PGA

    Jan 10, 2013 at 10:18 pm


    Great read. As a PGA Professional I cannot tell you how often I am pained by some of the scientific inaccuracies we hear from commentators. Don’t get me wrong there are varying principles and different ways to do things but there are also some things that are simply fact. Frankly it makes our job more difficult because now we have to explain to our clients why that is incorrect, and of course people love hearing what they heard on TV is wrong.

    • Tim Boegh, PGA

      Jan 11, 2013 at 8:14 am

      I agree great read! Being a PGA Professional I have to deal with this every day. Some of my best players in the world are amazed when you explain to them why certain things happens when it comes to ball flight. Better education leads to better players!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Right Knee Bend: The Difference Between PGA Tour Players and Amateurs



The knees play an especially important role in the golf swing, helping to transfer the forces golfers generate through our connection with the ground. When we look closer at the right knee bend in the golf swing, we’re able to get a better sense of how PGA Tour players generate power compared to most amateur golfers.

Your Reaction?
  • 10
  • LEGIT5
  • WOW3
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP2
  • OB2
  • SHANK5

Continue Reading


How to eliminate the double cross: Vertical plane, gear effect and impact location



One of the biggest issues teachers see on the lesson tee is an out-to-in golf swing from a player who is trying to fade the ball, only to look up and see the deadly double cross! This gear effect assisted toe hook is one of the most frustrating things about trying to move the ball from left to right for the right-handed golfer. In this article, I want to show you what this looks like with Trackman and give you a few ways in which you can eliminate this from your game.

Below is the address position of a golfer I teach here in Punta Mita; his handicap ranges between scratch and 2, depending on how much he’s playing, but his miss is a double cross when he’s struggling.

Now let’s examine his impact position:


  • You see a pull-hooking ball flight
  • The hands are significantly higher at impact than they were at address
  • If you look at the clubhead closely you can see it is wide open post impact due to a toe hit (which we’ll see more of in a second)
  • The face to path is 0.5 which means with a perfectly centered hit, this ball would have moved very slightly from the left to the right
  • However, we see a shot that has a very high negative spin axis -13.7 showing a shot that is moving right to left

Now let’s look at impact location via Trackman:

As we can see here, the impact of the shot above was obviously on the toe and this is the reason why the double-cross occurred. Now the question remains is “why did he hit the ball off of the toe?”

This is what I see from people who swing a touch too much from out-to-in and try to hit fades: a standing up of the body and a lifting of the hands raising the Vertical Swing Plane and Dynamic Lie of the club at impact. From address, let’s assume his lie angle was 45 degrees (for simplicity) and now at impact you can see his Dynamic Lie is 51 degrees. Simply put, he’s standing up the shaft during impact…when this happens you will tend to pull the heel off the ground at impact and this exposes the toe of the club, hence the toe hits and the gear effect toe hook.

Now that we know the problem, what’s the solution? In my opinion it’s a three stage process:

  1. Don’t swing as much from out-to-in so you won’t stand up as much during impact
  2. A better swing plane will help you to remain in your posture and lower the hands a touch more through impact
  3. Move the weights in your driver to promote a slight fade bias

Obviously the key here is to make better swings, but remember to use technology to your advantage and understand why these type of things happen!

Your Reaction?
  • 15
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL3
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB2
  • SHANK22

Continue Reading


Master your takeaway with force and torques



Most golf swings last less than 2 seconds, so it’s difficult to recover from any errors in the takeaway. Time is obviously limited. What most golfers fail to realize is that the force and torque they apply to the club in the initial stages of the swing can have major effects on how they are able to leverage the club with their arms and wrists.

Our research has shown that it is best to see the golfer as a series of connected links with the most consistent golfers transferring motion smoothly from one link to another and finally to the club. Approximately 19-25 percent of all the energy created in a golf swing actually makes its way into the motion of the club. That means the remaining 75-80 percent is used up in moving the body segments. This emphasizes the fact that a smooth takeaway is your best chance sequence the body links and become more efficient with your energy transfers.

In the video above, I give a very important lesson on how the forces and torques applied by the golfer in the takeaway shape the rest of the swing. There will be more to come on the subject in future articles.

Your Reaction?
  • 30
  • LEGIT12
  • WOW6
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP2
  • OB2
  • SHANK14

Continue Reading

19th Hole