Who in their golfing career has never hit the occasional shank? After you shank a ball, one of two things happens next. Either you will able to ignore the fact that you just â??hosel rocketedâ?? a ball and will get back to sinking great shots, or you will be unable to overcome what just happened and will continue shanking the ball. The latter scenario is commonly referred to as â??The Shanks.â?
Some golfers can easily shake off a shanked shot, refusing to let it affect their game. I played college golf at Methodist University and a good friend of mine would shank one shot almost every day. The shank would always occur on the range and it would never affect her game on the golf course. And, she was a 4-time Division III National Champion and ranked first in the country for 2 years! However, most people are not so lucky.
Letâ??s look at what the shank really is and what causes it so you can avoid making these common mistakes.
What is a Shank?
A shank occurs when the hosel of the golf club strikes the ball. Since the hosel is round, a shank may fly off in any direction. The most common result is a shot that flies low and sideways. (To the right for right-handed golfers, and to the left for left-handed golfers.)
What Causes a Shank?
A shank happens when the club head moves farther from the body in the golf swing than it was at address. If you slice the ball, you have a much greater chance of hitting a shank than someone that draws the ball. A slice is caused by an over-the-top swing path with an open clubface, where the club head is farther away from your body than necessary at a point in your downswing, just prior to impact. Any time you are striking the ball with an open clubface, you are effectively moving the hosel closer to the ball than it would be with a square clubface.
Here are some common causes of the shank:
â?¢ Arms too close to body at address.
â?¢ Standing too tall at address.
â?¢ Shaft is too upright.
â?¢ Weight is not evenly distributed (from heel to toe) at address.
â?¢ Weight shifts towards toes during downswing.
â?¢ Over the top swing path with an open clubface.
How Do You Cure the Shanks?
It is extremely important to pinpoint which of the above factors is causing you to shank the ball. I recommend first using a mirror to see if any of the below causes and cures applies to you. If you cannot diagnose your own problem, consult with your local PGA Professional.
Causes and Cures:
Arms too close to body at address: At address your arms should be hanging from your shoulders and reaching slightly toward the ball. Be sure that your arms are not hanging straight down to the ground or inside your shoulder line.
Standing too tall at address: Standing too tall at address will cause you to go down after the ball to achieve more power, which will also result in the club head moving farther from the body at impact than it was at address. Start with your feet shoulder width apart with slightly flexed knees. Place your hands on the top of each thigh with your arms straight. Bend at the waist with a straight spine (feel like your raising your tailbone to the sky) sliding your hands down your thighs until your fingertips touch the tops of your knees. If you are looking in a mirror, the angle of bend in your kneecaps should be similar to the angle of bend at the waist and your back should be straight, not curved.
Shaft is too upright: If at setup your shaft is pointed above your belt line, it is too upright. The more upright the shaft is, the closer you move the hosel to the golf ball. Use a mirror to make sure that your shaft points near your belt buckle in your set-up.
Weight is not evenly distributed (from heel to toe) at address: If at setup your weight is not centered, you will likely shift it during your swing to remain balanced. Therefore, if you setup with your weight on your heels and shift it toward your toes through impact, you have moved your bodyâ??s center slightly towards the golf ball, which in turn means that you have also moved the hosel slightly closer to the ball. Be sure that you are in an athletic, balanced position at setup with your weight evenly distributed from heel to toe on both feet.
Over the top swing path with an open clubface: As I mentioned earlier, anytime the club is approaching the ball from outside the target line with an open face, the hosel is closer to the ball at impact than it was at address. This does not mean that if you come over the top with an open clubface you will shank the ball and if you come from the inside with a square clubface you wonâ??t. However, a person that slices the ball has a greater chance of hitting a shank than someone who hooks the ball.
I hope you never have â??The Shanksâ? but if you do, use the above list of causes and cures to diagnose your problem and get back to hitting great golf shots.
For more free golf tips, visit gaminganddestinations.com/golf
Colby Wolitz is a certified teaching professional and is currently the assistant pro at Hunting Creek Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky.