The S-Word (Shanks)
(How to stop shanking)As you can imagine S-Words don't normally bother us here at ISUCKATGOLF.net. However there is one S-word that even we don't use. Golfers who have experienced a bout of this S-word cringe at it's mere utterance. If you've ever had them you know the S-word we're talking about ....(and we're sorry)....The Shanks!
If you just came to this page out of curiosity leave now before it's too late! Sometimes just mentioning the word can bring them on!
The dreaded shank will do more to squash your love of golf than all the Yipps, slices, duck hooks, pop-ups, dribbles and snowmen you'll have for the rest of your golfing career!
They come seemingly out of nowhere, and can be very hard to get rid of. One minute you're hitting the ball beautifully, the next your sitting in your cart with your head between your knees hyperventilating.
Yes, it's that bad.
For anyone who doesn't know, the Shank is caused when the hossle of the club hits the side of the ball and causes it to shoot at almost a right angle off the forehead of whomever was unfortunate enough to be standing to your immediate right at impact.
You can't "play a shank" either. There's no aiming down the left side of the fairway when you're shanking. You're almost completely dead if you're on the course with the shanks. Either rid yourself of them immediately or take the cart back to the 19th hole and pull up a stool.
Did you see the movie Tin Cup by the way? I saw the beginning. When he started shanking I turned it off. Yes, I too have had the shanks.
O.k. The shanks SUCK. We've established that pretty well I think.
Here's how to get rid of them:
The shank is usually caused by too flat a swing plane. The club comes back too far around your body and from too far inside. At the top of your back swing a friend may be able to notice the club is pointing left of parallel to the target,(laid off) and maybe too "low" on your back.(behind you a bit) You've got to get that more upright.
What you want to do is stand a little taller so you swing the club on a more upright plane. To do this you can just not bend quite as much from the waist, pull your shoulders slightly back at address, and feel like your neck is long and you're looking at the ball from over your nose. (head up)
When you start the club back keep it low and straight back for the first 18". Loosen up your hands and shoulders. Let your wrists break easily on the back swing. Don't rush the downswing. Nice and smooth. When you get to the ball be sure to release the hands! Keep everything very loose.
I believe the key to stopping the shanks is to have "loose hands" and release the club hard at impact. (turn your hands over to get the hossel out of the way!)
Since a number of things can cause a shank, here are a few alternate suggestions should the above not work right away:
1. Keep your right elbow in to your right side on the downswing. First move down should be the right elbow tucking into your right side. Feel like it's brushing against your shirt. Release the hands hard at impact!
2. If you're on the course and desperate, try aiming for a specific dimple on the side of the ball nearest you. This will usually be enough to get you through the round and into the clubhouse. From there you should head for either the range or your psychologists office.
Not Sure It's a Shank?
The easiest way to tell if you have a shank or something else, like hitting it thin and "skulling" it is to take some regular masking tape you can purchase at the hardware store and LIGHTLY cover the face of the club and the hossel of the club with it. Don't press down any harder than is needed to get it to stick to the club. Now hit a ball. You'll be able to see the impression of the ball on the tape and will immediatly know where you are making contact. If the hossel has a mark or the ball mark is very close to the hossel, you have your answer!
The shanks are not usually an indication that your swing has completely fallen apart. They sometimes go away just as fast as they came, all on their own. However it is comforting to proactively correct them rather than hoping they just go away. Knowing you "cured" them helps reduce the fear that they might come back later.
If all else fails sometimes taking a week off, or having a beer or two to relax helps.(seriously) Many years ago a friend and I flew to Florida to play the Blue Monster at Doral C. C. It was winter, we hadn't played in a few months, it was going to be great!...until I shanked EVERY IRON SHOT on the front nine!
At the turn Doral has a little area to hit balls. (at least there was back then) I grabbed TWO beers from the beer cart girl, drank them one after the other, then quickly dropped 3 balls in the range and hit 3 perfect 9 irons! Played the back nine in even par 36 after a 46 on the front! (the 46 was with 2 chip-ins.)
So you never know what's going to work!