The dreaded shank – hosel rocket, el hosel, shankapotamus, socketing, shanks for the memories. Many consider it the worst shot in golf. Arguably, most golfers admit that it is not technically a “golf shot” because it’s an unintentional action not a purposeful shot.
Answers.com defines the shank as:
“Hitting the golf ball with the heel of the club, causing the ball to veer in the wrong direction.”
And Brent Kelley on About.com’s Golf Guide defines it as:
“….a mis-hit that is so bad the golfer makes contact with the ball with a part of the club other than the clubface….someone who shanks a lot might be said to “have the shanks” or be “shanking it”. A shank is one of the worst mis-hits in golf; in fact, many golfers don’t even like saying the word out loud”.
More specifically, a generally accepted definition of a shank is when the ball is contacted on the “clubface-side” of the hosel, causing the ball to veer wildly to the right (for right- handed players). I knew an Assistant Golf Professional who gave up the game of golf because he couldn’t stop shanking his chip/pitch shots – just walked off the course and left the golf business. It is my belief that if the golfer knows how to shank a golf ball on purpose, he/she can then correct the flaw by doing just the opposite.
Causes of “Shanking it”
The basic cause of the shank is that the clubhead moves further away from the golfer at impact (or takes a path further away from the golfer) than is established at setup.
Many things can cause this to happen:
• Spine angle change through impact
• Weight goes to the toes through impact
• Tension causes the club to move “outside” the desired path through impact
• Excessive knee flex through impact, etc.
Fixing the Dreaded Shank
Rather than focusing on what is causing the shank, my recommendation is to practice hitting the ball on the toe of the club – just the opposite of hitting it in the heel. Use face tape and experiment with smaller/shorter shots at first.
Concentrate on what it feels like to contact the ball on the toe of the club. Once you can hit it on the toe with small/short shots, begin increasing your swing until you can hit it on the toe with full swings. Once you master hitting the ball on the toe of the club, use face tape once again to establish contact in the center of the clubface.
Painting the Face
Finally, master the exercise I call “painting the face” – tee up three balls; put face tape on a 7-iron; then hit the first shot in the center of the clubface, the second shot on the toe, and finally, the third shot in the hosel.
Remember, once you know how to hit a shank on purpose, you can always figure out how not to, or at least how to avoid it in the future!
About the Author Eric Wilson Ph.D. is a PGA Master Professional and the Vice President of golf school: The College of Golf at Keiser University in Port St. Lucie, FL. You can find The College of Golf on Twitter (@CollegeofGolf) or on Facebook.
Image source: Today’s Golfer