Here's how to wrap a hook shot around a tree to save a stroke like Patrick Cantlay did to win the Shriners Open

By T.J. Auclair
Published on
Here's how to wrap a hook shot around a tree to save a stroke like Patrick Cantlay did to win the Shriners Open

Patrick Cantlay, 25, snagged his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday, winning a three-way playoff at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.

The win, on the second hole in sudden death, would not have happened if it weren't for a remarkable recovery shot Cantlay executed.

After his tee shot sailed right, Cantlay found himself with some tree trouble. It was no time to play it safe and punch back into the fairway. Cantlay had to be aggressive.

With that, he took out a 4 iron and and wrapped a low hook shot around the tree and through the green. Moments later, he got up and down for par and the win.

Here's the shot:



Remarkable play, right?

Well, you don't have to be a PGA Tour pro to pull it off.

Lou Guzzi, 2013 PGA National Teacher of the Year, explained to us that there's one question you have to ask yourself in a situation like the one Cantlay faced: What's the risk/reward?

"Basically there are three answers -- all questions you have to ask yourself -- to that question," Guzzi said.

1. Can I go out sideways 50 yards back into the fairway and take my medicine?

2. Can I get it close to the green and maybe save a stroke?

3. If I select option two, would it be just as easy to turn this into a triple bogey?

"Those are all the things you need to ask yourself," Guzzi said. "And whichever conclusion you come to, you need to be sure you can live with the outcome. Whatever happens, it's going to be a learning experience. And the only way to learn, unfortunately, might be to fail and take that triple bogey. Make the right decision based on your talent."

Guzzi told us that when he's giving an on-course lesson, he'll often watch the student hit a number of shots and then, when they're not expecting it, he'll throw a ball into an area similar to where Cantlay played his shot from.

"I like to throw them in different situations and see what their decision-making is like," Guzzi said. "A lot of these shots can be taught and practiced on the range, so you have the ability to hit it on the course. We'll all be in trouble off the tee and we'll have to recover."

So how do you hit that recovery hook shot around an object like a tree that stands between you and the hole?

"Learn to hit the shot on the range," Guzzi said. "Take a 4 or a 5-iron. Place the ball in the middle of your stance. Aim a little to the right and close the face down. Then make your normal swing and really pay attention to what the ball does. What you're going to notice is that it's going to move hard and fast from right to left. Also pay attention to the trajectory and how much it curves."

Guzzi said it's important to visualize an object -- such as trees -- on the range while practicing these shots.

But keep in mind that the hook isn't the only thing you want to put in your memory bank. Also note what the ball does once it hits the ground.

"It's going to hit the ground hard and, with that hook spin, you're probably looking at at least another 20-30 yards of roll out," Guzzi said.

To make the practice sessions on the range a little more fun hitting these low hook shots, Guzzi said you can also mess with others on the range.

"Make it fun," he said. "Aim way right and with that face closed shut, just rip those hooks. Everyone out there will be talking and go into the clubhouse and say, 'You've got to see that poor guy out there. He can't stop snap-hooking it."

All of these reps will serve you well when you find yourself in that not-so-desirable spot on the course.

"I always tell my students it's like hitting some really ugly shots that look great when you're in trouble," Guzzi said.