Some of the best golfers of all time have been plagued by a severe version of a hook known in golf parlance as a duck hook, a snap hook or “smothering” the ball. Early in his career, the great Ben Hogan struggled with this problem. More recently, Tiger Woods has fought to keep the ball from curving low and left. Regardless of the root cause, a snap hook is the result of an extremely closed club face at impact.
Finding the Cause
By definition, a snap hook is a ball that curves right to left on a low trajectory and off target. For simplicity, all instructions are from the vantage point of a right-handed golfer. The root cause can be in the fundamentals or in the swing motion itself. Look for some of these causes:
- Strong grip, meaning your hands are rotated too far to the right, or clockwise, on the grip.
- A flat backswing, meaning you swing the club around your body on a level plane rather than the angle of your spine.
- Failure to transfer your weight to your left side and rotate your body fully on the follow-through.
It's not unusual for your snap hook to be the result of two or even all three of these causes.
Get a (Proper) Grip
A grip that is rotated too far to the right will result in a closed club face at impact. Place your left thumb in the 1 o'clock position – just to the right of the center of the grip – and your right thumb at 11 o'clock. The “v” formed by the thumb and forefinger of each hand should point to the right shoulder. When you look at your hands, you should see two or three knuckles on your left hand. If you are holding the club correctly, it will feel as if the handle is in the fingers of each hand rather than the palms.
Drill: Swing on Plane
When your backswing is too flat, you swing your club around your body inside the swing plane. As you start your downswing, the club gets caught behind your body and your hands flip through impact, closing the club face.
Try this drill using alignment sticks to keep your club swinging on plane. Place two alignment rods – available at most golf equipment stores – on the ground parallel to each other and the target line. The ends should point in the direction of your target. Ensure the sticks are about 8 inches apart, creating an alleyway through which you will swing. Place a ball in the center of the rods. Stick a third rod in the ground to the right of the stick closest to your feet. Angle that rod so it approximates the angle of the shaft of your club. Swing above the rod on both your backswing and downswing. This drill will train you to swing on a more upright plane.
Drill: Rotate your Hips
When you fail to shift your weight to your left side on the downswing and don't rotate through the ball, your body slows and your hands get more active, flipping the club face closed. The result is a snap hook. In this drill, practice swinging to a balanced finish with your hips fully rotated. Think of turning your right hip pocket toward the target. You are in the proper position if:
- Your belt buckle faces the target.
- Your weight is on the heel of your left foot and the left leg is straight.
- Your right heel is off the ground and the toe of your shoe is lightly touching the ground.
- Your knees touch.
Practice swinging to this balanced position without hitting a ball. Hold the finish for a count of five seconds. When you feel comfortable with your finish position, try hitting a ball with your focus on rotating your hips.