Before you even think about stopping pulls and hooks you should make sure you really understand the concept of “Swing Plane”. Please read the article at http://simplegolf.com/blog/simple-short-game/swing-tracks-drill-insures-youre-on-plane-everytime/
Pulls and hooks really shouldn’t be a problem with Symple Swing but since many of us have some bad swing habits it is something that new Symple Swingers can run into. If you follow your set up procedures carefully, you should not have any problem with pulls or hooks. However, we’re not all perfect, and we’re not all careful with our set up routine so we’re going to review some specific procedures to make sure any pulls or hooks are an extremely unlikely occurrence.
With pulls and hooks (or pull-hooks) the first thing to work on correcting is the pulling. If you correct pulling, you will often eliminate hooks at the same time, so we will focus first on explaining and eliminating pulls.
Pulls often are caused by overotation of the hips. Check out the article on the Symple Turn http://simplegolf.com/blog/full-swing/lower-body-action/the-symple-turn-a-simplied-lower-body-motion-for-the-golf-swing/ to learn the correct lower body action. Doing a correct lower body turn alone will often completely stop pulls.
The first thing we want to emphasize is the importance of “rocking and locking.” (This is a good point to review the “PowerSet Stance” section) In particular, rocking the hips forward makes pulling much more difficult. IF YOU TEND TO PULL, THE FIRST THING TO CHECK IS THAT YOUR HIPS ARE FORWARD AND YOUR BACK KNEE IS COCKED INWARD. If you continue to pull, try moving the hips a bit more forward and make sure the head stays over the back knee. That alone will often eliminate pulls.
If the weight stays on the back leg you can wind up rotating around the back hip instead or rotating around the spine like you should. Rotating around the back hip spins open the front hip very quickly pulling the shoulders to the left (for a right handed player). The swing “follows the shoulders” so you wind up with an outside to inside swing and a pull. You need to get the weight off the back foot to stop this. Try cocking the back knee in and then try the “Back Heel Up Drill”. It’s explained near the end of this article. That drill usually stops the quick opening of the hips.
The second thing to do to eliminate pulling is to check your basic alignment. MAKE SURE YOUR SHOULDERS AND HIPS ARE SQUARE AT ADDRESS. It is very easy to leave your shoulders open at address and not even know it. The best thing to do is have a friend stand behind you and tell you where your shoulders are pointing at address. You can also lay a club across your chest to see where your shoulders are pointing. We did have one student who aligned his shoulders dead square, but then when he “rocked and locked,” he allowed the movement of his hips to open his shoulders. As soon as that was pointed out to him, he squared up and immediately stopped pulling.
The third important thing to check in order to stop pulls is to make sure you don’t get too steep (too vertical) in your backswing. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE BUTT OF THE CLUB POINTING AT THE EXTENDED TARGET LINE ON YOUR BACKSWING AND DOWNSWING. (Try putting a tee in the end off your grip. It’s a little easier then to concentrate on where the tee is pointing during your backswing.)
If the butt of the club is pointing inside the target line (closer to your feet) then you are too letting the club get too vertical. From that vertical position you have to do a lot of manipulation to get back “on plane” or you’ll wind up with an in-to-out swing and a resulting pull. Also, keeping the right elbow in close to the body will make pulls (and hooks) much less likely. GETTING TOO VERTICAL AND BEING ABOVE THE SWING PLANE IS THE MOST COMMON CAUSE OF AN OUTSIDE TO INSIDE SWING RESULTING IN A PULL – OR A SLICE. The butt of the club should always be pointing at the extended target line on the backswing and the downswing.
I teach what a call a “shoulder waggle”. It’s kind of like a Mike Weir mini backswing. I have the student make a slow “one-piece” backswing up to the point where the butt of the club points at the ball. Then they come back to address. During this mini warm-up swing they check to see that they are on-plane back closely watching that the butt of the club points at the extended target line on the backswing and returning to address on the downswing. I also have them check to make sure their lead wrist (left wrist for a right handed golfer) stays flat. I make sure they are turning the shoulder by making sure they maintain the triangle formed by their chest and two arms.
I have them repeat this “shoulder waggle” a couple of times (2-3) to build confidence so they know they’ll be on-plane in their real swing. Doing the shoulder waggle teaches the what it “feels like” to be on-plane.
One of the other things I have them check for at address and during the backswing is the position of the back elbow. It should generally be pointing downward (I’m not saying straight down). The back arm will push the club too up right if the back elbow starts pointing backwards (away from the target).
To make sure you are on-plane during your backswing and downswing, you should pay particular attention to where your elbows are pointing at address. As we mentioned, the front elbow should be rotated to point toward the target. The back elbow should be rotated downward a bit. That will make it much easier to keep the back elbow close to your side in your backswing and downswing. If the back elbow flies away from the body a pull is much more likely. (Note: Remember, at address your back elbow should rotate a bit so it’s pointing generally downward.)
Check your arm position on your backswing. When your front arm gets to the horizontal position in the backswing it should be PARALLEL TO THE EXTENDED TARGET LINE!!! If your arm is parallel it means you’re on plane. If you arm is inside of parallel meaning further away from the target line that means you backswing is “inside” or below the swing plane. If you backswing is below the swing plane it’s likely that your swing path will go Inside-To-Outside. An Inside-To-Outside swing path is pretty much a guarantee of a hook with Symple Swing although it can cause a push or once in a great while a slice.
Arm swinging, as opposed to swinging with the shoulders, can also make pulls a little more likely. Try this drill to practice starting the downswing with your shoulders. Go to the top of your backswing and note the distance between your hands and your back shoulder. Let’s say for demonstration’s sake that the distance from your hands to your back shoulder is nine inches. Now begin a slow motion downswing, keeping your hands at the same nine-inch distance from your back shoulder for the first few inches of your downswing. Let the shoulders start the downswing with the hands staying near that back shoulder for as long as is comfortable. Then stop and go back to the top of the backswing. In this drill you only do a partial downswing motion with you shoulders, kind of like a checked swing motion in baseball. Then try some practice swings keeping the hands close to the back shoulder for as long as possible during the downswing.
One other tip comes from Chuck Neibel our Symple Swing Certified Instructor in North Dakota. He reminds us to watch the grip pressure on the lead hand (left hand for right handed golfers). The the grip gets too tight the whole lead arm can tighten and pull your left. Grip pressure can even cause hooking which we’ll cover next.
Hooks generally shouldn’t be a problem with Symple Swing once you groove your swing. The majority of hooks will be caused by the back arm rotating over the front arm during impact, thereby closing the clubface. A hook can also be caused by keeping the weight on the back foot, not bracing into the front foot. Cocking the right knee in toward the target at address usually takes care of this. Also, with the driver try addressing the ball with the driver on the ground 8-12 inches behind the ball encouraging a sweeping upswing reducing any hooking tendencies.
One grip that often stops hooks is the single interlock grip. Interlock the little finger of the bottom hand between the index finger and the middle finger of the top hand. Of course you’d continue using the PowerThumb grip with the top hand. That grip done right prevents the bottom hand from closing the club face through impact.
There are two kinds of hooks. The “body hook” and the “hand hook”. To stop hooking the first thing is to identify what type of hook you are experiencing.
The body hook: This is where the club face closes through impact because of movement of the body generally a too fast a rotation of the hips and/or shoulders. A number of factors can cause this. For example, if you leave most of your weight on your back foot you will in effect turn or pivot around your back hip. This will cause your shoulders to be open (point left for a right hander) at impact which automatically close the club face at impact.
The second type of hook is a “hand hook”. This is a closing of the club face cause by the right hand either closing the club face or trying to roll the right hand over the left. One of the reasons we recommend a double overlap grip (and the pinch modification) is to deliberately weaken the right hand and reduce the tendency of the right hand to get too active. Personally I didn’t believe my right hand could be closing the club face at impact a degree or two causing a draw. I didn’t believe it until I got on a swing analyzer and actually tested it. The single overlap or 10 finger grip caused me to close the club face at impact a degree or two. With the double overlap grip with pinch modification the club face was square at impact. I fought the change but once I saw the proof on the swing analyzer I switch to the double overlap grip. It took me two rounds to become comfortable with the double overlap grip but I’m delighted I switched.
Sometimes you can correct a hand hook by changing your grip a little bit. Move your top thumb a little to the left (for a right hander). You can move your PowerThumb over to about the 1 o’clock position (left side of your thumb just barely touching the mid-line on the top of the shaft). The PowerThumb works fine over to the 1 o’clock position.
Anatomically we are all a little different. It’s pretty common to have to make minor individual adjustments to make a physical motion work just right for you. You’ll find this with the grip and with the stance. There is no one “right position” that will work for everyone.
If you hook and you have trouble figuring out wwhether you are body hooking or hand hooking just send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org telling us about your ball flight (what’s happening to your shots) and we’ll help you figure it out right away.
Do check your clubface at address. It should be square to the target. Often we find students setting up with a closed clubface at address. This is often a compensation left over from their former swing where they were constantly guarding against a slice. (Review the “Squeeze Test” section on the video and in the manual.)
A too wide stance can also cause a hook because it becomes easy to leave too much weight on the back leg thereby rotating around the back hip. Try a slightly narrower stance.
On drives positioning the club 6 to 8 inches behind the ball tends you encourage a more sweeping down and through swing reducing the likelihood of a hook.
Bigger Elbow Bend Drill
One drill I do with students has them set up with a slightly bigger bend of the front arm at address (with the elbow pointed at the target) and then try to keep that same elbow bend angle on the backswing, downswing and through impact. That’s a great drill to teach a bigger shoulder turn. Note: Keeping the front elbow slightly bent and pointed at the target also pretty much makes it IMPOSSIBLE TO HOOK so it not a bad shot to have when you have a tee shot with “death” on the left side of the fairway.
“Back Heel Up” Drill
I’d also suggest trying the “Back Heel Up” Drill. With this drill you address the ball, then “rock and lock” and flare your back foot out as usual, then lift your back heel off the ground. You should feel your back foot pushing yourself into your braced front leg. This helps stabilize your lower body. The opposing tension helps keep the lower body from becoming overactive especially in the backswing. Hit some practice shots keeping your back heel slightly elevated. Keeping the back heel slightly up throughout the shot reduces the early spinning of the lower body which dramatically reduces the tendency to hook or pull.
One other grip modification you might try was developed by Symple Swinger Stuart Brandt. Stuart uses an interlocking grip inserting his left index finger through the space between his right middle and ring fingers. That grip seems to create a small fade for most Symple Swingers that try it.
If you are still having trouble with hooks or pulls after trying the remedies above, send us a videotape of your swing. It’s normally pretty easy for us to diagnose exactly what’s going wrong when we can see your swing on video.