Whether you’re looking to introduce some handy new shots into your game, or are simply trying to correct the wayward ones, understanding what causes hooks and slices can be really beneficial.
For those times when you find yourself caught behind a tree, or when you need to move the ball in a particular direction with a desired flight, knowing how to execute a hook or slice might just save you a shot or two. Likewise, some knowledge of hooks and slices can help you make minor swing adjustments to correct unintentional draws or fades.
Following are some basic examples of what might typically cause a slice or hook. Of course, there are other factors to take into consideration – such as face angle at impact and weight transfer – though these examples are based on making contact with the club face square to the target line.
Imagine you are looking directly down on the ball. Now visualise a clock face around the ball (see image). 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock would form a line pointing directly at your target. In this first image you can see the blue line showing the club’s path being delivered square to the target coming from 6 o’clock through to 12 o’clock. This swing would typically result in a straight ball flight. You can see where the club would make contact with the centre of the ball in the smaller image (low right – this is the view of the ball from the rear). If you make contact low on the ball you will get a higher ball flight with more spin. If you make contact higher (towards the centre of the ball) you will get a lower ball flight with less spin.
Tip: Check your divot. If it matches the club path line (as shown in blue below) and you made contact with a square club face to the target, you should have hit a straight shot.
The next example looks at a slice. The club comes down into impact with the ball from outside the centre line when seen from the rear (see image low right). This would be anywhere between 5 o’clock and 6 o’clock. The club continues to travel on this club path (seen in blue) exiting the ball between 11 o’clock and 12 o’clock. This causes the ball to spin in a clockwise direction, starting left of the target and finishing right of the target. This ball flight will tend to be higher due to the steepness of the swing – causing more backspin and landing softer with less roll. A great shot to learn if you want a high flight landing soft with plenty of spin. A great thing to note if you are trying to correct an undesired slice.
Tip: Check your divot. If it matches the club path line (as shown in blue below) and you made contact with a square club face to the target, you should have sliced the ball.
Finally, let’s look at a hook. The club comes from the inside of the centre line (see image low right). This would be between 7 o’clock and 6 o’clock. The club path (blue) continues through the ball and exits between 12 o’clock and 1 o’clock. This puts anti-clockwise spin on the ball and makes the ball hook with a flight bending to the left. The ball will start to the right of the target and finish to the left of the target. This ball flight tends to be lower as the approach is shallower – more inside to outside, with more roll when it lands. This is a great shot to learn for use in strong winds or if you need to run the ball up to your target. A hook will also tend to travel further due to the reduction in spin. Again, a great thing to note if you are trying to correct an unintentional hook.
Tip: Check your divot. If it matches the club path line (as shown in blue below) and you made contact with a square club face to the target, you should have hooked the ball.
These swing thoughts have always helped me out and with these understandings I have developed the ability to work the ball both ways. Next time you’re out for a practise, give these shots a go. Having the ability to move the ball both ways is very useful.
Luke @ Golf Blog Australia