In golf, pull hook shots are the curse that keeps on going, and going, and going – usually right into the woods off the wrong side of the fairway.
If your longest shot off the tee always ends up flying into the trees, or a bunker, or taking a swim in the water hazard, we have some tips and tricks to help you make a better swing off the tee and keep the ball on the straight-away.
A golf pull hook is a ball that comes off the club face with a right-to-left spin (or left-to-right for a left-handed golfer) and spins off the straight path to the non-dominant side. They are often lower-flying, bouncy little devils that roll and roll, making them even more devastating to a golfer’s score than the more common slice. Pull hooks happen when an outside-to-inside swing path is paired with a closed clubface at the point of impact, which causes the right-to-left (or left-to-right for a lefty) spin on the ball.
There are several different things that a golfer could be doing wrong to cause a pull hook shot. The cause might be too strong of a grip or having your hands positioned wrong on the grip surface; the ball might be positioned too far forward (toward the target) in your stance, or you could be starting your downswing with the wrong body parts moving first. Whatever the cause, there are cures for each.
How to Correct a Pull Hook Golf Swing
If you can isolate the exact cause – grip, ball position/stance, or swing, you need only correct that one thing. If you can’t determine the cause, or do more than one of the things that cause a pull hook swing, you can still fix it with a return to fundamental (basic) practices.
First things first – adjust your grip alignment. Make sure that your hands are lined up on the club correctly, with the proper club head orientation. Most golf club grips, if installed correctly, actually have alignment marks down the front face for this purpose. There are gloves available that have marked alignment dots across the base of the fingers where your club grip should rest on your hand to ensure a proper grip. This video demonstrates the basics of finding the correct grip and aligning your club properly. Other tools and training aids are available, but if you’re just a casual golfer, you don’t need the added expense when you can use what you already have in your golf bag or your home.
And on to the swing.
Once you have your grip adequately adjusted, it is time to focus on your swing. As we discussed in our article about increasing your distance and accuracy with a good upright swing, the motion of your swing should be consistent every time you swing no matter which club you are using (except the putter, of course). To review:
- Align your feet, hips, and shoulders perpendicular to the target
- Keep your knees bent slightly and your back straight
- Also, your hips, torso, and shoulders should rotate slightly away from the target on your backswing
- The dominant arm will be bent; the non-dominant arm should remain straight at the top of your backswing
- Start with your hip, almost in a thrusting motion, to begin your downward swing
- Your entire body should rotate around naturally with your swing
- Control comes from your dominant arm and the wrist movement just before the point of impact
- Don’t forget your follow-through
This quick video shows the how to correct a pull hook golf swing:
Practice Drills You can do to Help Stop Your Pull Hook
The Head Cover Drill
When you have a pull hook shot, the problem is often too much lift in your backswing with your dominant arm. To make sure your arm stays in the correct position, simply tuck an empty driver cover under your arm. As you make your swing, keep the driver cover under your arm. This drill makes sure you don’t lift your arm too much during the backswing.
The Slow Motion Swing Drill
Another drill to practice is the slow motion drill. When you slow down your swing, you will be able to better pinpoint the problem in your swing. To perform the slow motion drill, you want to make your entire swing, but only employ about half the power so that your swing moves into the downswing at about half your normal speed. This will let you see if you are turning your body too fast or too slow. As you practice the slow motion drill, gradually increase your swing speed until you are back up to your normal speed. This should correct your swing to alleviate the golf pull hook shot.
The Punch Shot Drill
A punch shot is when you don’t finish with a big follow-through – you stop your swing shortly beyond the point of impact, sort of like a short punch, or jab. Because you are not using your full swing, it is easier to judge the orientation of the club face at the point of impact. The club face should be making a solid, square connection with the ball. If it is not, your stroke will result in either a sliced shot (open clubface) or a pull hook shot (closed clubface). As you practice with the punch shot drill, gradually move back into your full swing as you correct the orientation of the club face on each progressive swing.
Visual Point of Reference Drill
This drill can be done in your backyard or at the driving range. Grab your driver head cover again — or an alignment stick, or your water bottle – basically anything that you can see lying in the grass. Drop it on the ground about 6 – 10 inches behind your ball (to your dominant side as you address the ball). This is your visual point of reference. The visual reference should be about three inches farther away from you than your ball. That puts it at the point where your swing will pass by it but not strike it. Using your normal swing motion, hit your ball without hitting the visual reference. This drill keeps your club from swinging too far out before the point of impact. Thus, forcing the club face to interact with the ball more squarely.
This swing video explains the golf pull hook and instructs the golfer on a correct swing path:
You now know what causes the golf pull hook shot and what corrections to make. You should be on your way to straight shots down the fairway. Returning to the basics whenever your ball trajectory becomes obnoxious to your score is the best fix for any malady with your golf game. Practice is the best way to improve your game. Using the drills listed above can help keep your swing consistent, reliable, and accurate.
Now that you know the answer to the question, “How do you stop a pull hook in golf?” you can (hopefully) lower your score by a few strokes and stop throwing your clubs at trees.
Repeat after me …no more bunkers …no more woods …no more water hazards