Helping his hook-prone students with their basic swing flaw comes naturally to Bill Adams, head pro at the Glen Ridge Country Club in northern New Jersey. Turns out Adams is a hooker, himself.
“It’s rare that I’m not doing something to try and keep the overly right-to-left shot out of my own game,” admits Adams. “Like a lot of people who hit a natural hook, I have fast hands through impact. My hips lose the race, the clubface closes and the ball swings hard left.”
Adams suggests the following adjustments for hookers looking to straighten out their ball flight:
## Stand up out of the shot sooner. “People who hit slices are often told it’s because they didn’t stay down on the shot through impact–they straightened up too early. But if you hook it you may have taken that positive fundamental of staying down through impact and overdone it.” Try coming out of the shot sooner, says Adams, “just like you would if you were hitting into a low sun and you were worried you wouldn’t be able to see where your ball went.”
## Think of the toe and heel of your clubface racing into impact and finishing in a tie. “For most people who hook, the toe of the clubhead gets to the ball sooner than the heel, so get a clear picture of the heel keeping pace with the toe.” It also helps, he says, to imagine the clubface facing the sky as the club reaches belt-high on the follow-through.
As a drill, Adams suggests an idea that is so classic it may even sound a little primitive: “Go to the range and try hitting 50 slices in a row.” Even more effective for Adams is to chip 50 or 100 practice balls with a 9-iron, keeping close visual track of the clubface and grooving the feeling of a square face angle. “Chipping acts like a lab experiment that isolates the problem,” he says. “You’re making a small, relatively slow swing where you’re controlling the clubface at impact. You can see it and feel it, which allows you to program in a feel that translates to full shots with the woods and irons.” If all else fails, he says, tweak your grip. “Take hold of the club with more grip pressure in your left hand than your right,” suggests Adams.