Explaining the Dreaded 'Duck Hook'

You know what a hook shot is in golf, right? Well, a duck hook is a really bad hook. But that's glib, so let's go a little deeper.

First, just in case you don't know what a hook is: A "hook shot" is when the golfer's shot curves in flight to left of the target line. (We are using right-handed golfers for these examples; for lefties, it will be the opposite — a hook curves to the right of the target line). Hooks are the opposite of slices. Hooks are typically mishits, but are sometimes played intentionally.

So, what about a "duck hook"? Many golfers use the terms to mean simply a really bad hook. But there's a more specific meaning that comes from the use of the word "duck."

We're not talking about ducks with feathers here. We mean the exclamatory verb, "duck!" As in, take cover, get down. That usage of duck with hook describes what a "duck hook" does in flight: It curves to the left, all right, but then it dips hard down and to the left.

In The Education of a Golfer, Sam Snead wrote that, "Sometimes I got a duck-hook effect, where the ball shot out low and took a left-hand dip downward into the rough."

Some golfers might call a duck hook a "snap hook" or a "shrimp" or "shrimp hook."

Here's a golf instructor discussing the causes and fixes of duck hooks (and you can find more by searching YouTube for duck hook or snap hook):

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