Golf Slice vs Hook – The Basics Explained
Golf players don’t hit absolutely straight shots very often. The sole reason for this is that for such shots, their swings have to be perfectly balanced. Curved shots are where the ball turns either left or right with respect to the swing in its trajectory before landing. These shots are much easier to repeat compared with exactly straight shots.
Curved shots are of two kinds; the first one turns to the left and is called a hook, and the second to the right is called a slice. These directions apply for right-handed players, so they are reversed when a left-handed player is taking the golf shot.
The Meaning of Slice and Hook Shots
You will often hear a player on a golf course bemoan the fact that they have sliced or hooked their ball out of bounds or into the rough. These are the unwanted hooks and slices that occur when a player who is intending to hit the ball as straight as they can, swings poorly or mishits the ball. Every golfer who has ever swung a club will have undoubtedly had their fair share of hooks or slices that messed up their score.
On the other hand, hooks and slices can be highly desirable shots that can be used by golfers in many ways. Some players’ natural game is to either hook or slice the ball knowing that its trajectory will take it close to where they wish to hit it.
Sometimes you will hear golf commentators and pundits use words like ‘fade’ when referring to a slice and a ‘draw’ when talking about a hook. The difference is the degree to which the ball has been hooked or sliced with fade and draw more likely to be used when there is only a slight curve to the right or left in the flight of the ball.
Why are Slice and Hook Shots Used?
Golf slice and hook shots often occur more than straight shots and are not always undesirable. Though they may take time to master, they are worth learning because of their repeatability and their usefulness in many scenarios on the golf course. You might think that that it would be more difficult to hit a ball towards a target if the ball curves on its way than hitting it straight, but for many golfers, including professionals, that is not the case.
As you practice slices and hooks, you will understand that it is possible to control how much the ball moves during its trajectory. This is done by hitting the ball at slightly different positions and with small differences in the angle you hit it. Being able to control these by the manner of your club swing, hooks and slices can soon become a way of performing consistently in a game. They also have benefits when you need to get around obstacles on a golf course.
A slice is often labelled as an error in golf but when a slice is intended by the golfer it would generally turn less sharply and is known as a "fade". Likewise, when a hook is intended by the golfer it would turn more gently and is known as a "draw". A player would "draw" or "fade" the ball according to the shape of the shot that was intended to be made.
When are These Shots Generally Used?
Once you get the hang of slices (fades) and hooks (draws), they can become an essential part of any golf game you play. Both slices and hooks can be used for long-distance drives where the target is not in a straight line from you. These shots are especially useful at golf courses whose fairways have a lot of turns, including what are known as ‘dog-leg’ holes where the green can be at a 90 degree right angle to the tee.
A hook or slice can also be useful in playing your ball around natural barriers such as trees and thick bushes, or in scenarios where is no direct shot to your target from where your ball is lying.
Hitting a Hook vs Slice in Golf
Three factors control the trajectory of the ball while hitting a hook or slice in golf. These are angle of attack, club path, and clubface position. The angle of attack is the angle between the club and the ground at the point where it strikes the ball. If this angle is low, the ball is likely to shoot at a low height and hook. If this angle is high, the swing is like a chopping motion and the ball will jump higher and slice.
The club path is another factor which is often a determinant of how the ball moves in the air. When the club travels away from your body on its way down, it hits the ball on the outer side. This makes the ball hook due to the inward force experienced by it. When the club travels towards your body before impact, it hits the ball on its inner side and makes it slice due to the outward force of this motion.
The position of the clubface is also important in whether you plan to hit a slice or a hook. When the clubface points straight towards the target, it is called a square clubface. When the clubface points inwards towards yourself, it is called a closed clubface and the ball tends to hook in this instance. On the other hand, when the clubface points away from you, it is called an open clubface and is used for slicing.
When to Use Slices
Some situations occur often in golf when a slice could be a beneficial choice of shot. For a right-handed player, a slice can be used when playing a hole with a drastic dogleg towards the right. For a left-handed player, this would be the case with a left dogleg. A small or big slice can also be used when the ball is stuck behind an obstacle in the woods and you need to get around it. In both these cases, the club should move in an outside-to-in path with an open clubface.
When to Use Hooks
Hooks are used in similar situations when the required direction is the opposite. For a right-handed player with a left dogleg in the course, a hook is the best choice of shot. Right doglegs are when left-handed players employ the hook shot. Similar to slices, hooks are also used to curve the ball around obstacles in the woods.
The choice between the two shots depends on which direction you want the ball to ultimately go and where the optimum place to land your ball is. Hooks are best hit with a closed clubface with an inside-to-out path of the club.