Hooking and slicing are two common mistakes that can send your ball flying off course and ruin progress on a hole.
When your aim is hitting straight, hooks and slices are a golfing nightmare as they can lead to lost balls and extra strokes on your scorecard, so learning how to avoid them is a must for improving at golf!
While these mistakes can be discouraging, the good news is anyone can fix them with a few straightforward tweaks in their swing.
Once you understand why you’re hitting hooks or slices and can practice addressing the root causes, you’ll be able to hit straighter, more consistent shots in no time.
With that said, let’s compare the hook vs the slice, discuss which is worse to play, and provide some tips for eliminating these mistakes from your game!
Hook vs slice – What are they?
First, let’s familiarize ourselves with the hook vs slice shot and what they might mean for you on the course.
It’s important to recognize which stroke you’re hitting so you know exactly what to try and avoid on your journey to shooting lower scores!
A hook is a shot in golf where the ball starts off to the right (for right-handed golfers) before curving sharply to the left.
When you play a hook, your ball has strong counter-clockwise sidespin which causes it to veer left in flight.
This is similar to a draw shot, except with a much more aggressive curve, and often resulting from a poor hit rather than a deliberate attempt to curve the ball.
Hooking the ball is considered a mistake in golf as the shot diverges from the target line and ends up far to the left of your intended destination.
A slice is essentially the opposite of a hook, where the ball starts off to the left (for right-handed players) and veers sharply to the right.
The slice is characterized by strong clockwise sidespin and can be likened to a much fiercer version of a fade.
The end result of slicing the ball is that it lands far to the right of your intended target, earning its reputation as another frustrating golf blunder.
The Hook vs Slice – which is worse?
There’s no doubt that hooks and slices are two of the worst shots you can play when you don’t intend to curve your ball.
But which one is worse?
While hooks and slices are often described as mirror versions of each other, there are some key differences in how the ball travels between the two:
- Hooks tend to have a lower trajectory and will see the ball roll more on landing.
- Slices tend to have a higher flight path and typically cover less distance.
Both of these shots are unpredictable and challenging to control in their own right.
To answer which shot is worse, therefore, depends on your specific situation on the golf course.
In the short game, where your goal is to stop the ball quickly upon landing, a hook is the less favorable option as low trajectories are dangerous for attacking fast greens.
On the other hand, when power and distance are the priority, a hook can be a better option for longer golf shots as it can gain you more ground than a slice.
The wind is also an important factor to be aware of when playing hooks and slices.
Because slices travel higher in the air, they can be especially challenging to control when the wind is up since your ball can get carried in flight more easily, ending even further off course.
A hook would be the better option here to cut underneath the wind.
Lastly, the hook vs slice debate depends on the immediate obstacles you have around you on the course.
If there’s a hazard or some heavy rough to your left, then you need to take the measures to avoid hooking the ball. And vice versa, a slice would be the worst shot to play if there’s immediate danger to your right.
Indeed, both shots can also be used deliberately as strategic tools by golfers when improvisation is required to get out of a tight situation.
For example, a hook can be used to navigate around a sharp dogleg from right to left if there’s a tree in the way on the course, while a slice can be used to lift the ball high out of the rough or sand trap.
But ultimately, both the hook and the slice are difficult shots to control and should be avoided where possible!
Why you’re hitting Hooks and slices
If you’re tired of watching your balls veer off the side of the fairway, it’s time to find the root cause of the issue in your swing.
So, what’s causing you to hook or slice the ball in golf?
The main culprits behind hooks and slices are poor face control and an inconsistent club path.
- Face control refers to the angle or position of your club face when it makes contact with the ball.
- The club path is the route your club travels back and forth to meet the ball in your swing.
When you deliver your club in the downswing, the angle of your club face should be square to your target line to hit straight golf shots.
If you have poor face control, your club face is left open or closed at impact, which is what causes that unwanted sidespin on the ball.
Generally, a slice is caused when you have an open club face at impact, while a hook is caused by having a closed club face.
On the other hand, if you have an inside-out club path, you also can be prone to hooking the ball, while an outside-in swing path can lead to slices.
Don’t worry if that’s you – many golfers can and do play successfully with unique club paths, even at the highest PGA level. However, a non-neutral swing path requires more skill to pull off, so it’s something you might want to adjust if you struggle to hit straight and consistently.
Fixing hooks and slices – 4 Simple tips
#1. Check your grip
One of the best ways to maintain face control and make consistent contact with the ball is by having the correct grip.
If your grip on the club is too strong, your clubface can tend to close at impact and cause a hook shot.
On the other hand, a weak grip can leave the clubface open at impact and cause a slice shot.
To fix these issues, simply try adjusting your grip strength on the club. Go slightly weaker if you’re hooking the ball, or a bit stronger if you’re slicing the ball.
A good visualization for the strength of your grip is the number of knuckles on show on your left hand (for right-handed players) at address.
For example, a strong grip is characterized by having 3 knuckles on show, a neutral grip 2, and a weak grip 1.
To tweak your grip, rotate both hands around the club until you find the sweet spot for the shot you intend to correct.
#2. adjust your swing path
If the path of your club is inconsistent, it becomes extremely difficult to square up the face at impact and hit straight.
An inside-out club path will see the club come over the top and outside of the target line to meet the ball.
This can cause the ball to hook because it leaves the clubface closed relative to the target line at impact.
In contrast, a club path that is outside-in (attacking the ball from the inside of the target line) can cause the ball to slice, as the clubface is more likely to be open relative to the target line.
To fix hooks and slices, it is important to ensure that your club arrives at a neutral angle so it has the highest chance of making square contact with the ball.
This is called swinging on plane, where the swing path is neither too steep nor too shallow.
To achieve this, at the top of your swing, the butt end of your club should be pointing back down to your ball.
#3. Focus on your alignment
Alignment in golf is a key for the aim of your shots, but it can also influence the direction of your swing path, so be careful!
On the other hand, an open stance, where your feet are pointing left of the target at setup, can cause a slice shot because it promotes an inside-out swing path.
The solution is to simply adopt a square stance by ensuring that your feet are parallel with your target line when you set up to the ball.
It can help to lay down a couple of alignment rods to be sure your aim is correct.
#4. Perform a strong follow through
This means performing a strong follow through straight after impact.
The follow through is important because it is what allows your body to rotate all the way through the shot which is key to squaring the club face.
If you’re a serial slicer of the ball, it could be because you have a weak follow through and aren’t allowing your club to complete the full arc of your swing.
Oppositely, if you struggle with a hook, it might be that you are rushing your release, causing your wrists to fold over too early in the follow through making your club face close at impact.
The solution is to allow your arms and club shaft to fully extend down the line of your target post-impact before coiling behind your shoulders.
Finish your swing standing proud, with your belt buckle pointing toward the target and you’re on the right track to hitting straighter shots!