Hook vs Slice: Golf Shot Shapes

By Kyle J. Larson Published: Last updated:

In this article, I’ll outline the various golf shot shapes you might intentionally (or accidentally) hit. You’ll learn the differences between a hook, a slice, a draw, and a fade and how to hit or avoid hitting any of these shots. This is a critical bit of knowledge to help fix issues you see on the range and as you get better to use strategically.

golf shot shape illustration - hook vs slice vs draw vs fade

Hook vs Slice

A hook is when the ball spins hard to the left, and a slice is when it spins hard to the right. Of course, if you’re a left-handed golfer, these terms are reversed.

In general, these are shots that you don’t want to hit. They’re too hard to control and get to land in a favorable position. You might be able to use your knowledge of how to hit this shot to move the ball around an obstacle, but it’s only for extreme situations and is more likely to hurt you than help until you’re a lower handicap golfer.

How to Stop Hooking the Ball

To avoid hitting these shots, we’ll first start by describing how to hit them. A hook shot is created by swinging from inside to out. This is initially counter-intuitive as it may seem like swinging along this path would send the ball out to the right. However, you must remember that the hook is created by spin, so you’ll often start the ball straight or to the right before seeing it go hard to the left.

To start fixing a hook, you’ll want to practice hitting on a path that is straighter through the ball. Take some practice swings and focus on this new path before hitting the ball. You can also exaggerate and try to hit a slice by swinging out to in, which might help you find a good middle ground.

How to Stop a Slicing the Ball

To avoid hitting a slice, it’s best to know what is causing it in the first place. The spin of a slice is created by swinging from outside to inside versus swinging straight down the target line.

Most amateur golfers do this by coming over the top at the start of the downswing. You can avoid this by dropping down and inside from the top of your swing. Start with some practice swings and even try to swing inside to out until you’ve arrived at a more neutral swing.

Setup Tips for Fixing Hooks and Slices

Regardless of which type of swing issue you’re trying to fix, you’ll want to ensure you’re doing a few fundamental things correctly. First, make sure your feet and shoulders are aligned to the target. Turning one way or another will often promote an in-to-out or out-to-in swing. Use some alignment sticks to ensure you’re set up correctly.

Second, check where you’re hitting the ball on the face of the club. If you’re not hitting toward the center of the face, you’ll put an additional side-spin on the ball. You can test this using some impact stickers or a can of Dr. Scholls Foot Powder Spray.

Finally, ensure you’re genuinely hitting a hook or a slice instead of a push or a pull. Hooks and slices are due to spin on the ball and will curve left or right as the ball flies instead of starting to the left or right. If your ball goes straight left or right (possibly also spinning in that direction), you’ve also got an issue with the clubface being opened or closed to the target line. Golfers often have both problems together (a.k.a a push-slice or a pull-hook).

golf shot draw fade club path

Draw vs Fade

A draw is when the ball has a small amount of left spin, and a fade is when it has a small amount of right spin. These shots can function as your go-to shot shape as long as you’re starting a ball a little bit right or left to have the ball spin back to the center line.

How to Hit a Draw

Hitting a draw involves swinging on a slightly more in-to-out path. You’ll also likely need to leave the club face slightly open to the straight path, so the ball starts to the right and draws back to the center.

Hitting a draw can be an ideal shot for getting extra distance with a driver as it tends to reduce the amount of backspin on a ball. However, it can be challenging to get correct, so if you already have a straight shot, you may want to stick with that until you’re confident adding different shot shapes.

Here are a few things you can try to start hitting a draw:

  • Aim your body to the right of the target line by turning your shoulders while keeping the clubface pointed at the target.
  • Swing along that new in-to-out path. You can visualize a point behind you between your back foot and the ball for the club to swing along and a spot outside and right of the ball to swing through.
  • If you need to alter the face, you can strengthen or weaken your grip (turn your lead hand counter-clockwise to open the face and start the ball further right and the opposite to close it).

How to Hit a Fade

To hit a fade, you’ll need a slightly out-to-in swing path to create some right spin. You may also need to have the club face just slightly closed to the straight path to have the ball fade back into the target.

To hit a fade:

  • Aim your body to the left of the target line by turning your shoulders while keeping the clubface pointed at the target.
  • Swing along that new out-to-in path. You can visualize a point behind you outside the ball for the club to swing along and a spot inside and left of the ball to swing through.
  • If you need to alter the face, you can strengthen or weaken your grip (turn your lead hand clockwise to close the face and start the ball further left and the opposite to open it).

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