Hook vs Slice: What is the Difference


Those that have played golf for at least several years have probably hooked and sliced a ball at some point in their golf journey.  It can be one of the most frustrating experiences in a game that many of us love. If you are new to golf, then maybe you always slice the ball and you are sick and tired of losing the distance and play golf in from the trees. 

Many beginner golfers struggle from the slice and more advanced golfers often fight a hook. Golf is a lot more fun from the fairway and when you get the maximum distance your swing can produce.  Hooks and slices reduce our total distance and make the game more difficult.

Hooks and Slices are all about Club Path and Club Face Relation – Learn More Below

Golf is a great game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and we are here to help, whether you slice or hook the ball, we provide 5 potential path and face angles that cause slice and hooks and then provide a fix or tip for each example.  You will more than likely be able to relate to one of the 5 examples by reading your ball flight, even if you don’t have an actual device to read your path and you club.

So what is the difference between a hook and a slice?  For a righty, a slice is a shot that curves significantly to the right and a hook shot curves significantly to the left.  These shots often significantly hurt your overall scores.  They are caused by your club face being significantly opened or close to the path of your swing.  This creates a significant amount of side spin and a shot that curves uncontrollably. While you will want to hit a ball that slightly curves left or right, a shot that curves significantly left or right can make the game difficult.

How to Hit a Draw – 5 Simple Steps

Before getting into the fixes for help on how you can stop your slice or hook, we will provide a basic overview of the ball flight laws which will help you better understand the actual science behind the slice and the hook shot in golf. The understanding of the ball flight laws will help you make corrections on the range or on the course if this jumps up and gets you during a round of golf.

Ball Flight Laws and Causes of the Slice and Hook Shot in Golf

As explained above, a slice and hook are caused from the same issue, but opposite at the same time.  When the club face is significantly opened or closed to the path, you ultimately have a slice or a hook.  One thing to always remember, the ball will start for the most part where the face is aimed and curve away from the path.  To explain further, let’s talk about some examples.

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Example 1 – Slice 

Your typical high handicap, beginner amateur golfer often swings significantly left of the target with a face that is open or right of the swing path.  Often times the swing might be anywhere from 5-15 degrees left of the target line. The face remains open to the path and sometimes might be closed to the target line, but there is a still a significant difference between the path angle and the face angle. 

For example, if the path is 12 degrees left and the face is 3 degrees left you will still slice the ball. The tip to close your club face might be one of the biggest myths in golf. You can still slice with a closed clubface if your path is left of your clubface.  Just like you can still hook the ball with an open face. I know this might be confusing because of the tips many of us have read in the golf magazines for so many years. The 12 degree left path and the 3 degree left face will result in a pull slice, which is a ball that starts left of the target lines and curves significantly to the right.

Example 2 – Slice

Now that we have a decent understanding of ball flight laws and the application, let’s talk about another example.  A golfer with a path of 7 degrees left of the target line and a face that is 1 degree left. This golf will hit a slight smaller slice, with a ball that starts left and curves right.  This will also be a pull slice, but will start not as far left as the scenario in example 1.

Example 3 – Slice

Let’s say the swing produces a path 1 degree right with a face that is 9 degrees open.  This result will be a ball that starts right and curves significant right. This can sometimes happen to the better golf, who swings more from the inside, but failed to square up the face more to the path.  This is known as a push slice. As the ball will start right of the target line and curve to the link.

Reminder: Keep in mind that the ball will start where the club face is aimed and then curve away from the path.

Below we will get into fixes for your slice, but first let’s look at some hook examples.

Example 1 – Hook

Typically, you will find a better golfer with the issue of a path that is too far to the right and a club face that is more square.  For example, a golfer could have a path 15 degrees right of the target line and a face that is 5 degrees open. This will result in a big sweeping hook that starts right and curves left.  Often times the biggest myth is that the hook is caused by a closed clubface, while true that it is close to the path, in this example the face is actually open to the target line. The fix for this golfer would be to get the path less left so that is doesn’t have as big of a gap between path angle and face angle.  

Example 2 – Hook

Another potential matchup that causes issues is a path that is 5 degrees to the right, but the face is closed 5 degrees to the left.  The ball will start left of the target line and then curve significantly to the left. Here the path isn’t too bad, but the golfer more than likely flipped his or her hands causing a closed clubface.

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Tips for Each Example to Help you Stop Your Slice or Hook

Tips for Example 1 and 2 – Slice 

In example 1, the golfer has a path of 12 degrees left with a face that is 3 degrees closed.  In example 2, the golfer has a path 7 degrees left and face that is 1 degree left. The ball flight for both of these examples is a shot that will start left and curve right.  This will look like a pull slice. There are several tips to help the golfer with this slice producing swing.

  • Check alignment to ensure you are not starting with shoulders aimed to the left.  The path will often follow the path of your shoulders.
  • Make a complete turn in your backswing and have the feeling that you are keeping your left shoulder back as your start your downswing.  The feeling that your arms need to beat your left should to the ball will help bring you bring your path more back to the middle.
  • For a Drill – Setup 70% of your weight on your front side, closed your shoulders to the path and hit some half to 3 quarter shots and get your path to the start to the right.

Here is Shawn Clement’s advice on how to stop your slice:

Tips for Example 3 – Slice

In example 3, the golfer is fighting the push slice, the ball will start right and curve right.  The path is 1 degree right and a face that is 9 degrees right. Remember that the ball will start where the face is aimed and curve away from the path.  The fix we need to help the golf with here is to help the golfer square the face up a bit. Here are several tips to try.

  • Strengthen the left hand of your grip.  This means rotating your left hand more to the right, so you can see more knuckles..
  • Feel that your right hand is throwing the club down the fairway.  This will help get your club face through the shot.
  • Follow the Mike Malaska method of directing the momentum.  For some reason the club face is slow to close. You may be getting stuck, and the club face is behind you very close to impact.

Here is a Mike Malaska Video to help you with the swing thought of directing the momentum:

Tips for Example 1 – Hook

In this example, the path is way out to the right, close to 15 degrees and your club face at 5 degrees is not in a bad position.  The chances that you are getting stuck and flinging the club out to the right or not rotating enough is pretty high. Here are some tips that may help you out.

  • You are not getting enough rotation through the shot with your upper body and are flinging the club too far out to the right.  Thinking of rotating your chest through the shot and swinging more to the left. 
  • There is the possibility of too much hip slide, pushing the path 15 degrees to the right.

Here is Michael Breen’s advice on the hook shot in golf:

Tips for Example 2 – Hook

In this example the face is too closed (5 degrees left) and the path is 5 degrees right.  What often happens with this example is that the body has stalled and the hands have flipped through the shot.  You may not be able to feel this and it is often a result of getting stuck and your hands trying to rescue you from hitting a shot way to the right, the result is a shot that over hooks.  Here are some tips:

  • Keep rotating through the shot, do not let your body stall.
  • If you are stalling…Feel that you are swinging more with your arms and let your body react to your arm swing.  Don’t restrict your body, but instead let your arms drive your swing.
  • Swing through the shot and have a feeling of swinging a bit left of the target line.  This will help you bring your path in a bit, but also allow you to finish your swing strong.

Here is an excellent video by Monte Scheinblum on curing the hooks:

And Finally…

We want you to be able to enjoy the game of golf.  Often times when we get the driver in hand, we are trying to reach our max distance.  One great drill to groove your swing is the L to L drill, where you simply swing back to where your left arm is parallel to the ground and then swing through until your right arm is parallel to the ground.  This will help you groove your swing and then I would recommend the two options below as quality ways to add speed and distance.

Distance is a vital part to the game and many of us are seeking additional distance through club head speed.  Distance is vital and makes low scores more possible, but there are good ways to gain distance and ones that may just cause you greater issues with your hook or slice.  Below are the two options that we recommend:

SuperSpeed Golf – Read our Full Review

Gain 30-40 yards in 30 Days – Swing Man Golf

We also have a series of posts on how to beak 100, 90, 80 or 70.

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