There are few things more terrifying in the game of golf than losing control of your golf ball. Even the best players in the world lose a shot from time-to-time, but that normally doesn’t last long.
For a lot of amateurs when a really bad shot happens it could be the beginning of something much worse and longer in duration. When that does happen, the game of golf can be incredibly frustrating.
One of those shots that indicate a loss of control is the dreaded duck hook, sometimes called the snap hook. Even the name makes me shutter and gives me flashbacks to some of my worst rounds I’ve ever played.
There is no place for the duck hook in golf. It’s time to eliminate them all together.
What are Duck Hooks (Snap Hooks)?
First, we have to clarify the term “duck hook” or “snap hook”. The terms are interchangeable as they are referring to the same terrible shot!
Basically, a duck hook is when the ball turns sharply and quickly into the ground shortly after impact. For the right-handed player, a duck hook starts straight for a few feet or yards, and then dives to the left.
To be honest, I don’t know exactly how it got its name, but I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that it looks like a lame duck falling out of the sky. It has almost no chance of staying in flight and it seems to quickly wiggle and flop it’s way to the ground.
The duck hook will happen when a player is trying to hit a full, or almost full, shot. It looks really strange because the swing is long and hard, but the ball doesn’t respond off the clubface in the way one would expect.
A big, long, powerful swing should create a big, long golf shot, right? Ideally, yes.
Unfortunately, as most of us know, that’s not always the case. But, there’s hope! The duck hook can be fixed.
Why do Snap Hooks (Duck Hooks) Happen?
In order to fix the duck hook or snap hook, we need to know why they happen. Knowledge like this will help translate into correction. If you don’t know why a snap hook happens, then you’ll probably try to fix it the wrong way. So, let’s get started.
- Closed Clubface
First, a major factor in the duck hook is spin. A duck hook looks ugly and awkward because it’s spinning at a high rate.
But, as we know, spin isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Spin helps create lift on the golf ball and it can help us to stop the ball on the green where we want it to be. It can also help us to bend a shot around an obstruction. Spin is only a bad thing if it’s spinning in an unintended direction.
For the duck hook, the ball spins hard and fast down and to the left (for a right-handed player) into the ground.
So, duck hooks happen because of incorrect spin of the golf ball. That’s great to know, but now we need to talk about how that happens.
The new ball flight laws tell us that Spin comes down to two things;
- Face angle
- Club Patch
Face angle is the angle at which your club face comes in to contact with the ball at impact. Makes sense, right? Your club path is the line your club head takes to get to the ball at impact.
When a player’s clubface is closed and the path is inside-out, the duck hook occurs. Now, those two things may also cause a nice little baby draw that flies perfectly straight down the fairway. For the duck hook, it’s the extreme degree of closed and inside-out swing that creates a duck hook.
This is, sometimes, opposite of what a lot of people think. A lot of amateur golfers think that if the ball goes left (for a right-handed player) then the path must also be left, but that’s not always the case. In this situation, it’s the opposite.
When these two factors are combined together, the face doesn’t come in to solid impact with the ball. Instead, it grazes the side of the ball and puts hard side spin on the ball, resulting in a hard turn in your golf ball.
How to Stop Hitting Snap Hooks?
Now, let’s stop them. There are a couple things we need to address to stop the duck hook, but don’t get frustrated.
- Club Path
The first thing we need to do is check your grip. A lot of times when the duck hook flares its ugly head, a player has a grip that is too strong. Be careful, “too strong” does not refer to the pressure of your grip, but your position. This means that your grip might be too far right on the grip (for a right-handed player).
You’ll want to create a more neutral grip by rotating your hands, together, more on top of the grip. The result of this change will be a more open, or square, clubface at impact.
If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to add in a club path change as well. The path you’ll want to start creating is the outside-in direction. This can be a little intimidating to do because you’ve been seeing the ball duck hook in that direction a lot lately.
Go to the range and practice this before heading to the golf course. Trust that if you swing towards your body, it’ll create the opposite spin on the golf ball and it’ll fly in the opposite direction.
If you were a baseball player, standing at home plate, you’d imagine throwing your hands towards the shortstop, or left-center field, through impact. This, along with your grip change, will help counteract the duck hook.
Drills to Stop Snap Hooks
There are three, fairly simple, drills you can practice to help stop the duck hooks. Try taking these two drills out on to the range to fix your issue.
Standing Alignment Stick Drill:
This first drill is my favorite. It might be able to fix your problem in a couple swings. What you’ll need is an alignment stick, or snow pole, that can be stabbed into the ground.
- Walk out about 5-8 yards in front of your ball position on the range and put the pole in the ground, so it stands straight up in the air.
- Then, walk back to your ball and take aim at the pole. You’ll want to make sure you can see the pole in your peripheral vision.
- Your goal is to try and swing the club and ball to the left (for a right-handed player) of the pole.
This will, hopefully, create a little fade around the pole and straighten out your shot.
Alignment Stick Path Drill:
This next drill, you’ll need that same alignment pole from the first drill.
- Simply lay it down your target line and then tilt it a bit so that it points 10-15 yards left of your target.
- Then, put a golf ball next to the pole and try to swing, so that your divot is parallel to the alignment pole.
Again, this will do something very similar to the drill above. It should create a little baby fade back to your target.
Weak Grip Drill:
Finally, this drill is simply to over correct your grip. This drill assumes that your grip is in a position that is too strong, which, if you’re struggling with a snap hook, is probably the case.
- Put your hands on the club, so that both of your thumbs are straight down the shaft. This is probably going to feel really awkward at first.
- Then, hit some really soft, full-swing shots.
The point of this drill is to feel what the ball flight does when you create a weaker grip. It’s not meant to be your permanent grip. You’ll want a grip in between your original grip and this drill grip.
There you have it! If you were struggling with the duck hooks at the beginning of this article, hopefully you have a little more clarity on how to fix it.
Don’t get too discouraged by seeing the ball go short and into the ground quickly.
Instead, make a few small adjustments to your grip and path and you’ll soon see a beautiful baby fade flying straight towards your intended target.