What is a Duck Hook in Golf (& How to Stop Hitting Them)
Written by Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children. Current Handicap: 1

Updated on December 13, 2023

Some golf shots are incredibly frustrating, like the slice, the shank, and even the skulled shot. However, another one that can creep up on you is the duck hook.

The duck hook is a shot that will leave you with recovery and could end up costing one or even two shots on a hole. I’ve had a few instances of this happen to me, as my swing is shallow, and that is one of the common causes of hitting a duck hook.

If you want to get rid of the duck hook and hit straighter shots, here are the best ways to ensure that happens.


What is a Duck Hook in Golf?

A duck hook is when a golf ball makes a very sharp left-hand turn and heads for the ground. Duck hooks don’t stay in the air for long, and they have a ton of spin that takes the ball left.

Some golfers will call this a snap hook, as the ball makes a very quick turn to the left, much more severe than a traditional hooked golf shot.

Most of the time, a duck hook in golf is not going to go much more than about 50 or 100 yards. Some stronger players may hit a longer duck hook. However, the problem is not how far the total distance of this shot is but how far left it goes.

Often, the duck hook leaves you in a good amount of trouble somewhere down the left side of the golf course.


Common Causes of a Duck Hook

The most common causes of a duck hook are related to the path. However, there are problems with the player’s grip and club face angle that can also cause the ball to duck hook.

Here are some of the things to keep in mind and look out for when trying not to hit a duck hook.

Swing Path Too Far Inside

When hitting a driver, it can be beneficial to have an inside to out swing path. This will typically promote a draw and maybe even a few extra yards of distance.

However, if you happen to exaggerate this path a bit too much, as a right handed golfer, you could end up hitting a duck hook.

The takeaway on your golf swing should be one that leads to a more straight swing path, as opposed to one that goes directly inside. Keeping your arms just a bit more extended on the takeaway should easily fix this issue for you.

Closed Clubface

A closed clubface is a major reason behind hitting the duck hook. Sometimes your club face angle is closed at impact, and then you just never get it to square. Other golfers take their right hand and rotate it closed at impact, causing this problem.

Golf clubs should sit more neutral when on the tee box or even hitting an approach shot to the green, even if your typical ball flight is going to turn the ball to the right.

The closed clubface can become a problem with short irons, long irons, and even the driver.

Grip Too Strong

A neutral grip is the best position for all golfers. However, some golfers grip the club strongly to help eliminate a slice.

This is when the right hand is very far underneath the club, and it makes this hand more active in the swing. Although some players will time this right and hit straight shots, it’s hard to be consistent with it.

Backswing Too Short

Although this is a less common reason that golfers hit a duck hook, it can happen.

Sometimes you see this with better players that are trying to hit a punch shot or to control the ball flight in some way. Instead of completing their entire backswing and shoulder rotation, they take the club back halfway and then rush through to the finish.

The problem with this is that the club did not have enough time to even rotate from the open to square position, so it’s just shot at impact and results in a duck hook. This problem can also sometimes be a bit tempo related and typically doesn’t become a miss that a player hits often.

Wrong Equipment

All golfers must ensure they are playing with equipment that compliments their playing style and ability on the golf course.

Sometimes golfers that have clubs that are too short for them will have a tendency to duck hook the ball. If you see a strong taller man get up and try to hit a shot with a ladies’ graphite shafted golf iron, you may see a duck hook.

This is simply because the player is moving a little too quickly, and the golf club can’t keep up with the resistance and potential stored in the club head. Choose the right golf equipment to help you hit better shots, but a consistent duck hook is likely not caused by equipment.


3 Steps to Help You Stop Hitting Duck Hooks

Now that you have a better understanding of how the duck hook comes about, let’s look at how you can get rid of it.

Here are three steps to take each time you hit to ensure that your swing plane, posture, setup, and overall golf swing will allow for full swing shots that go straight toward your target.

Step 1: Check Your Grip

The grip on your golf club should be neutral.

Make sure your left hand is not holding too much of the grip in your hand and that the club is mostly in your fingers. The thumb should be pointing down the shaft, and the V made by the thumb and index finger on the left should be pointing to your left shoulder.

Once you have the left hand on the golf club, it is much easier to get the right hand into the proper position. The right hand should not be so far underneath the golf club as it is in a strong grip.

In addition, that V made up by your index finger and thumb on your right hand should point to your right shoulder.


A neutral golf grip

Step 2: Get The Setup Right

One of the most common misses in the game of golf is the slice.

When players hit a slice a few times in a row, they start to learn to fear it. I get that, as most of the trouble on the golf course seems to be down the right side. The problem is that if you end up over-correcting this shot for a slice, you could end up with a duck hook.

Keep your clubface square at setup, even if you are struggling with something in your golf game. A square clubface will help you see more distance, better ball flight, and more consistency in your game.

One of the tools I have used to help me ensure my setup and my clubface is not too closed are alignment sticks. Alignment sticks can help you learn how to swing down the proper path, as well as ensure that your setup is perfect before the takeaway.

Step 3: Check The Path

Now that you are set up to hit a straight golf shot, it makes sense to check the path of your club.

It’s good to have a target line, and when you swing out to the right of the target, you can get some really great right-to-left ball flight. However, if the backswing is a bit too shallow or inside the clubface may get to the impact position closed.

If you are going to swing inside out, be sure not to overdo it. Learn to swing more towards the target line as opposed to just swinging out and away from it. The path is an important part of any golf swing, and having a friend take a video can really help you see what you are doing wrong.

If you find that path is something you need to work on, you can use golf alignment sticks in the ground to check for the angle that you are bringing the club back and how you are swinging through.

Always give yourself enough room to ensure that you are not going to break your club or the alignment stick; use it instead as a visual reminder.


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Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children. Current Handicap: 1