A Lesson Learned: The trap draw hook

Bubba Watson Masters
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Every golfer, even Masters champion Bubba Watson, finds themselves in trouble at times.
Josh Nichols, PGA

Problem Area: Hybrids and Irons
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Sunday, April 08, 2012 | 9:20 p.m.

Well what can I (or anyone) say about the 2012 Masters that will do it justice? Intense, dramatic, emotional and full of great players hitting amazing shots.

When I agreed to write this week's "A Lesson Learned," I knew that I had to look out for one critical shot that we could all emulate and learn from. So really?

* Phil Mickelson hits a flop shot from an impossible spot behind the 15th green to four feet and makes his birdie.
* Phil Mickelson hits a hooded 7 iron with a 40 yard hook to the 18th green on Saturday to set up another birdie.
* Louis Oosthuizen hits a 4 iron from 260 yards that ends up in the hole for the 4th albatross in Masters history.
* Bubba Watson hits a wedge with 40 yards of hook in the 2nd playoff hole that leads to the Masters winning par.

After every shot, I know millions of golf fans were caught between yelling "Amazing!" and "Oh come on!" in disbelief. Those are not shots that 99.9% of the golf world - including most of the guys out on Tour - can pull off. So yes, "wow" would be correct. They were all incredible.

But then again, one thing we can all relate to is the need to get out of trouble. What Phil and Bubba did with their big hook shots may not be in the bag for most golfers, but the ability to hit that trap-draw-hook to escape trouble can, and should, be.

Since both Bubba and Phil are leftys, it's common their missed shots will end up on the right. For right handed golfers, your hooks will take you to the left. And the irony is, if it's a hook that gets you in trouble, it's most likely a hook you'll need to get out it too.

The basics of the shot are pretty simple:
1.) Take one less club than you'd need for the distance. Your shot will fly lower and roll further than usual.
2.) Aim your clubface to where you want your ball to finish.
3.) Move the ball a little back in your stance.
4..) Swing along your stance
5.) Keep your club "hooded" on the takeaway. This means keep the clubface pointed down towards the ground/ball rather than the toe up in the classic takeaway. This will help you "cover" or "hood" the ball thru the impact zone.

Your shot will come out hard and turn quickly towards the left (for right handers).

The next time you go to the range, I encourage you to practice this shot. You'll find that it's actually not that hard to pull off. If you think about it, some of the most solid shots most players have ever hit were pulls or hook. And unless you're that very rare breed of golfer that never gets in trouble, it's a shot that will come in handy more times than you think.

It might not lead to a green jacket, but it might help you find a few more greens in regulation.

Good luck!

Josh Nichols is the PGA Head Professional at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, GA. You can follow Josh on Twitter at @joshnicholsTPC 

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I am still waiting for the day when the PGA will go back and re-educate their members. To have this kind of information presented that has been so utterly disproven harms the credibility of the PGA. Phil's post is exactly correct. Anyone who has been staying up with the scientific research knows this. 100% of all evidence shows that the starting direction is determined by face angle (75 to 90% to be exact depending on iron or wood). If Bubba's face was aimed at the flag at impact he would have hit it dead into the trees. This has been known for years, so please, please PGA - get with it and stop promoting "opinion-based" instruction and have your members become "science-based" instructors.


First, the title of the article is misleading. There is no such thing as "trapping" the ball....thus there can be no trap draw. The ball, when struck correctly, instantly deforms and spins backwards up the club face. It is not ever "trapped" against the ground. Secondly, in your description of how to hit the draw/hook you say to aim your club face where you want the ball to finish. That is a recipe for disaster. The ball starts its initial flight virtually where the club face is pointing. Not 100%...but close. Therefore, if you aim the face at the intended finish target the ball will start basically there and then hook away from the flag. Bubba, at impact, I assure you had a club face aiming well left of his intended target....since he is left handed. This is a mathematical fact...not opinion.