Understanding “open-faced hooks”

by   (Senior Writer I)   |   January 10, 2013
dustin johnson

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.

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

 

About

Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional, a distinction held by less than 1 percent of all PGA Professionals. He is recognized as one of the top instructors in the country, and holds no less than seven PGA awards including "Teacher of the Year" and "Golf Professional of the Year."

Dennis holds two degrees in education and has worked with golfers of all levels for over 30 years. A native of Philadelphia, Dennis currently directs the Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the Marco Island Marriott in Naples, Fla.

GolfWRX Writer of the Month: April 2014, May 2014


27 Comments

  1. Dennis Clark

    January 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

    January 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

    January 15, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Good info and comments. Thanks DC.

  4. John

    January 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

    January 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

    January 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

      January 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm

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

    • Dennis Clark

      January 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

        January 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

          January 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

      January 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

    January 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

      January 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!

    January 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

    January 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

      January 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

        January 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

    January 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

      January 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

    January 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!

    January 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

    January 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

      January 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

    January 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

    January 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

    January 10, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Dennis,

    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

      January 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 *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>