Hook vs. Slice In Golf
For right handed golfers, a “Hook” is a shot that curves too far drastically to the left and is an exaggerated movement of the “Draw.“
A “Slice” is a shot that turns too far drastically to the right while in the air and is an exaggerated movement of the “Fade.”
For essentially everything in this article, the opposite direction of ball flight will apply to the terms for left handed golfers, but I will try to make a mention of that when appropriate.
When comparing “slice vs. hook” shots, one should know that the terms mean the opposite of each other but are both usually errant shots with too much side spin.
As described by the labeled photo below, golf shots that end toward the right side (left for left handers) of the intended target line are called a Push Slice, Slice, Push, or the least damaging, Fade. The names correspond to the severity level and starting position of their ball flight off the club face, a “Push Slice” being the most severe version of a slice.
Golf shots that end left (right for left handers) of the target are called a Pull Hook, Hook, Pull, or Draw. Once again, their names are listed based on the severity level and starting position of their ball flight off the club face.
Multiple factors can cause or influence a “nasty slice” or an uncontrollable feeling “snap hook.” Still, thankfully, both the slice and hook shot can be fixed with relative ease once you have the correct information to diagnose your golf swing issue.
From the following breakdown, you’ll know what to attempt to correct for both a hook or a slice, and you’ll be gaining the knowledge of how to fix and hit a hook or slice to add some more weaponry to your bag and even help you out of some sticky situations.
Crucial Starting Detail: Club Path - Club Face
Known in the golf world as the “club path to club face relationship,” this describes how a club face’s direction it’s pointed at impact as well as the direction of the “path” the club head travels around a player’s body while making the swing in relation to the target influences the direction of the ball flight.
Take a moment to study the photo of “Ball Flight Laws” (for a right handed golfer).
The more significant the difference between the direction of the face and the path, the more the ball will curve.
If the face of the club is closed relative to the path the club head is traveling at the moment of the strike, the ball will tend to hook. The ball will tend to slice if the face is open to the path.
Hook vs. Draw - Causes, How They Happen, & How To Correct Them
A draw is just a shot that curves slightly from right to left for right handers. A hook can end up far left of your intended target, and due to its fast right-to-left spin, it often carries a lot of speed along with its poor direction, leading to lost balls and frustration while playing.
Hooks can happen in two different ways.
Either the player’s swing path is too far “in to out,” meaning the path of the club head created by the golf swing points too far right of the intended target, or many amateur golfers and beginner golfers struggle with flipping their wrists at impact, resulting in a closed clubface and a pull hook.
Here are a few things to check out in your setup to the ball that might be causing your hook shots.
Main Issues That Cause a Slice
Feet Angle At Address
The next time you’re at the driving range trying tirelessly to fix a hook, take your standard set up to the ball, put a club or alignment stick down across your feet, touching both toes, and step back and look at it.
Does your alignment tool point to the left, right, or parallel to your target? For the right handed golfer, if your feet are aligned too far to the right of parallel to your intended target, you are almost forcing your swing path to be inside to out, resulting in a lot of right-to-left movement on the ball.
Upper Body Tilt At Setup
Most golfers have heard of having a bit of backward-leaning upper body tilt when they set up to their driver in particular to generate more club head speed, and when done correctly can even cause a slight draw bias.
When you have too much upper body side tilt away from your target like the left version of Hank Haney in the demonstration photo to the right, you cause yourself to have to take the club inside to start, shutting the club face and causing a strong inside to out swing path, resulting in a big hook.
Ball Position in Relation to Stance
Many golfers hook the ball off the tee just because their ball position in relation to their stance is so poor at address.
As a rule of thumb, when using the driver, try to tee the ball up two golf ball lengths ahead of the center of your stance or close to the inside of your leading heel.
If the ball gets too far forward in your stance (off the front foot or further), you’re giving the club face more time to close, and more hooks can happen!
Club Face Angle at Setup
It’s easy to forget the simple things sometimes in a game that can seem so complicated. If your clubface is closed relative to the target (meaning left of the target for right handed players), the ball will draw, hook, or be pulled left of the intended target.
Slice vs. Fade - Causes, How They Happen, & How To Correct Them
A fade is widely considered a very controlled shot, slightly moving left to right for right-handed golfers and stopping more quickly than the draw we discussed earlier.
On the other hand, a slice is a shot that moves dramatically from left to right for right handed golfers and, due to its left to right spin, has far less distance than its hook counterpart.
Here are a few things to check out in your setup and swing that might be causing a slice or right miss of some kind.
Feet Angle At Address
Since we can’t actually face the target while making a swing, it’s easy to fall out of parallel “good alignment” and open our stance, as the photo to the left describes.
Opening your stance relative to the target makes it near impossible to have anything other than an “outside to in” club path or “coming over the top,” as it’s most commonly referred to.
Upper Body Tilt (Or Lack Thereof)
There’s so much to remember about golf to play well that if you don’t practice a proper setup and have a natural rhythm and routine once you step on the tee box, you’re doomed from the start.
I fall into the category of players who either side bends far too much, resulting in hooks, or forget to side bend entirely and hit a pull or hitting a slice.
Experiment on the range before you take it to the course, but try hitting drivers with different about of upper body tilt and find something that feels comfortable and repeatable.
Ball Position in Relation to Stance
Playing the ball too far toward the middle of your stance is a great way to induce a slice. By doing this, you don’t allow the club face to square along its natural path and have to try to flip your wrists to save a slice or miss to the right.
Club Face Angle at Setup
Yet another thing to do correctly (Boy, this game seems complicated) is to have and maintain a square clubface relative to your target at impact and setup.
If you set up to a drive with an open clubface (to the right of the target for right handed players and left for left handers), you’re upping your likely hood of hitting the ball with an open clubface, resulting in shots that can only start and finish right of your target.
A Few Final Pointers
Where Are You Striking The Club Face?
If you’re properly cleaning and maintaining your clubs, you should be able to see the impact location of your previous drive.
The half-green and half-pink driver face photo describes how hitting the half of the driver’s face on the toe side results in more draws and has less likelihood of slicing, and hitting the heel side of the driver’s face is more prone to fading and less likely to hook.
We now live in an age where they make thin, tape-like stickers that cover your driver’s face so you can test this if you’re unsure or can’t see it on your driver’s face.
A home remedy I grew up using as a junior golfer was spraying athlete’s foot spray (gross) on my driver’s face to know exactly where my ball made contact with the club face.
Funny Tool To Check Face Angle At Address
Ultimately the most crucial factor in a slice or hook is the club face angle at impact.
If you’re unsure of your face angle at address, are around children, or want to go to the store and get some, find a Nerf dart and stick it in the center of your driver’s face pointing straight, and then take your setup without a ball.
The direction of the dart will tell you if you are aligning straight, to the left, or the right of your intended target.
If you find it difficult to center the dart to the target, that could indicate a reason for your miss.
Shoulder Alignment At Address
As a right handed player, if the imaginary line created by your shoulders at address points to the right of your target, you’re actively forcing your path to be “inside to out,” which is known to cause hooks, and also called setting up “closed” to the target.
If the imaginary line created by your shoulders points to the left of the target, you’d be setting up “open,” actively forcing your path to be “outside to in,” and often causing a slice.
About The Author
Writers of Independent Golf Reviews
Independent Golf Reviews has tested and reviewed 1000+ golf products over the past 10 years. We use our experience and expertise to give golfers an unbiased insight on the market.
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