Starting out in golf, you’ll come across new terms to describe different parts of the game. Some of these words relate to types of golf shots. The terms hook and slice are two such words.
You might be wondering exactly what these terms mean. And that’s why we’re going to tell you everything you need to know when it comes to hook vs. slice.
You’ll soon know the difference between a hook and a slice, what causes these shots, and how to fix those causes. So, let’s go and get you hitting the ball straighter from tee to green.
Hook vs slice: What’s the difference?
A hook is a golf shot that starts out on the right and curves drastically to the left (for a right-handed golfer). For a left-handed golfer, it’s the opposite. A hook starts left and curves to the right.
Think of the shape of a fishing hook, and you’ll get an idea of the ball’s flight path.
A slice is a shot that starts on the left and curves to the right for a right-handed golfer. And for a left-handed golfer, it’s the opposite. A slice starts on the right and curves left.
The golf ball’s flight curve is dramatic for both of these shots. A hook, for example, will often start traveling down the right side of the fairway and curl over into the left rough – for a right-hander.
A slice, however, will often start on the left side of the fairway and turn towards the right rough. It is the bend in the flight path that makes these shots identifiable. The ball will move a lot in the air, sometimes 50 yards from right to left and vice versa.
The hook and the slice are direct opposites. Although they have the same shape or curve type, the hook travels drastically left for right-handers. But the slice goes drastically to the right.
Each of these shots can get golfers into a lot of trouble on the course. Many a hook or a slice have sent the ball into the water or out of bounds. So, you want to avoid these shots at all costs.
To do that, let’s look at what causes the hook and the slice. Knowing the causes will allow us to avoid these dangerous shots.
What causes a hook?
The swing path’s direction combined with the clubface’s alignment at impact causes a hook. If you have a swing that goes from the inside on the backswing to the outside on the follow-through, that’s a swing path that can cause a hook. Now, combine that swing with a closed clubface at impact – a clubface that’s turned left for the right-handed golfer – and you’re going to hit a hook.
Let’s take a moment to visualize what an inside to outside swing path is.
Imagine you’re standing at the golf ball, ready to hit your shot. Visualize a straight line running a few yards in front of your ball towards the target and one running a few yards behind the ball away from the target.
You can put tape on the ground to make a line if it’s hard to visualize.
In a straight swing path, your club head will start along the line when you swing back. This is because you’re taking the club straight back. When you hit the ball, the clubhead will follow the straight line towards the target.
However, a swing path that starts on the inside won’t go straight back along the line. Instead, the clubhead will move slightly inside the line, towards you, when you’re taking it back.
This means your backswing will start with a curve, and it feels like you’re swinging around your body. When you follow through, the club will move on a path outside the straight line, away from you.
This inside to outside swing path is one stop on the road to a hook. The other stop is a closed clubface.
The position of the clubface at impact plays a massive part in hitting a hook. If you swing inside to outside and have the clubface closed at impact, you’re guaranteed to hit a hook.
This combination leads to a ton of sidespin on the ball at impact. Therefore, you’ll get that huge curve from right to left – for right-handed golfers.
You can try this deliberately at the range. Close your clubface by pointing it towards your lead foot and swing inside to outside. You’ll get a lot of movement from right to left because you’re creating heaps of sidespin.
How to fix a hook
To fix a hook, you have to address the two main things that cause it: swing path and clubface alignment. If you practice taking the golf club back straight for about the first yard of your swing, you’ll straighten your swing path.
Try out this simple drill: Take the club back straight for about a yard, stop for a second, and then follow through for about a yard. Repeat that pattern ten times in a row, or more if you like. This will give you the feeling of taking the club back straight and following through straight.
When you feel like you’re doing this correctly, take the club back slowly for the first yard, nice and straight, and then complete your full swing. The correct beginning of your swing should keep your swing path in line for a straight shot. That’s if your clubface is aligned correctly at impact.
And your grip is the main thing that’ll determine if your clubface is aligned squarely when you hit the ball. Many players hook the ball because they don’t grip the club properly. A grip that’s too strong is a major cause of the hook shot.
A strong grip relates to your hand position. It happens when the left hand – for a right-hander – is turned too far over on top of the grip. Your grip is too strong if you can see more than the first two knuckles of your left hand when you grip the club at address.
Take a golf club and grip it with your left hand so that you can see the first three knuckles when you’re addressing the ball. Now link your right hand as you’d do in your normal grip. You’ll notice that the right hand is turned underneath the grip.
A strong grip causes your right-hand position to be too far underneath the club. So when you swing, your hands will turn over to get into a more natural position. This closes the clubface on impact, and then you’ve got a one-way ticket to hook city.
To avoid this problem, you must weaken your grip. This means changing the position of your left hand, which in turn changes the position of your right hand when your grip the club.
Address the ball and put your left hand on the club. If you see three knuckles or more, rotate your hand on the grip towards the target without moving the clubhead. You want to make sure you only see two knuckles at the most on your left hand.
Once you slot in your right hand and grip the club, you should notice that your right hand is more over the top of the grip now. That’s exactly what you want. Your right hand’s thumb and index finger should make a V-shape that points up the center of the club’s grip.
This grip will give you a better chance of properly aligning the clubface at impact. So swing now on a straight path and say goodbye to your hook.
What causes a slice?
As with the hook, the swing path’s direction combined with the clubface’s alignment at impact causes a slice. But remember, a slice is the opposite of a hook. The ball will travel from left to right when a right-handed golfer slices it.
A slice will have an opposite swing path to a hook. So, a golfer who slices the ball will swing from the outside to the inside. And the clubface will be open at impact for the slice instead of closed at impact for the hook.
Again, visualize a straight line in front and behind the ball, or mark a line with tape. A swing from outside to inside means you take the club back outside the line and finish inside the line on the follow-through. So, you’ll take the club away from your body on the backswing and bring it closer to your body on the follow-through.
Exactly the opposite to the hook. This swing path means you slice across the ball on impact, putting side spin from left to right. That means the ball will curve left to right.
Add in an open clubface, and you get even more spin and more curve.
An open clubface on impact combined with an outside to inside swing is a sure recipe for a slice. It leads to a ton of sidespin from left to right. So, it adds to the side spin from the swing path.
That means your ball will banana from left to right for a right-handed player. But as with the hook, there’s a fix for the slice.
How to fix a slice
To fix a slice, you should address any swing path and club alignment issues. You can do the above drill to straighten your swing path to fix a slice, too. It’ll help you stop swinging from outside to inside and slicing across the ball.
However, you’ll also have to fix any clubface alignment issues on impact. And your grip is a significant factor in fighting a slice. A grip that’s too weak is a major cause of the slice.
A weak grip causes your right hand to be too far over the top of the grip, exactly the opposite of a strong grip. It happens because your left hand starts at a weak position, turned too far towards the target.
Your hands want to get to a more neutral position when you swing. That causes the clubface to open. Combined with an outside to inside swing path, you’ll be hitting the dreaded slice.
Adjust your grip to fix this problem. You’ll want to strengthen your grip and stop your right hand from being too over the top of the grip.
To check if your grip is too weak, address the ball and grip the club in your left hand as you usually do. If you can’t see any of the knuckles on your left hand, your grip is too weak.
Rotate your left hand away from the target so that you can see at least one knuckle. Join your right hand and grip the club. Your right hand’s thumb and index finger should make a V-shape that points up the center of the club’s grip.
Your grip will no longer be too weak.
One more way to stop a slice is using the right equipment. That’s the beauty of technology in golf these days. It can really help you out if you’re struggling with a slice.
Check out our Best Drivers for a Slice for some extra help.
Hook vs draw
A hook and a draw both move from right to left for a right-handed golfer. However, a hook has a much more curved flight path.
A hook is a risky shot that curves too much and can get you in heaps of trouble. But a draw has a beautiful shape and only moves slightly from right to left. You won’t find much trouble if you hit a nice draw.
Slice vs fade
A slice and a fade both move from left to right for a right-hander. But a slice is a horrible shot with a drastic curve. It’ll get you in trouble on the course.
A fade has a slight move from left to right. It’s a nice shot to hit, especially for approach shots into the green. A fade lands softly and stops quickly, perfect to get close to the pin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a hook better than a slice?
Yes, a hook is better than a slice. That’s because a hook is closer to a good golf shot. If you have a hook, you’re close to striking the ball well and pulling off good shots. However, a slice is much further from a good shot. So if you’ve got a slice, you’ll have more work to do to become a good golfer. But you can get there by concentrating on your swing path and clubface alignment.
Is it easier to fix a hook or a slice?
It’s easier to fix a hook because the swing path of a hook is more desirable than the swing path of a slice. If you’ve got a hook, it means you’re rotating your body almost correctly, at least. A hook is easier to fix because it’s closer to a good shot.
Now that you know everything about a hook and a slice, you can determine which one you tend to hit. You’ll be on your way to ditching them from our game if you follow the correct swing path and get your clubface alignment right at impact.
Practice that simple drill to get a feel for the correct swing path. And check your grip. It’s a significant factor in hitting a hook or a slice.
With a bit of practice and patience, you’ll be bombing your tee shots down the middle of the fairway.
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