Many golfers consider the shank the worst shot in golf. As far as I know, nobody has ever tried to intentionally hit a shank on the course while competing.
By Pat Dolan
- 6 min read.
Aerial View of a Golf Course
Photo by John Such / Unsplash
Many golfers consider "the shank" the worst shot in golf. In a shank (if you are right handed) the ball squirts almost straight right from the moment you hit it. The first time it happens, it comes as a complete shock. You were probably winning and/or about to shoot your best round ever, when it happened.
You were probably playing "a safe" or "no brainer" shot when it happened. It was "the worst" - "most unexpected" thing that ever happened to you in golf. The scene gets worse because - you probably shanked your next shot as well.
So what is a shank?
Well technically it is NOT a "golf shot." A golf shot is something a player tries to hit. As far as I know, nobody has ever tried to intentionally hit a shank on the course while competing.
The shank is the portion or part of an iron where the clubface and hosel meet. When a golfer hits the ball in that area of the club head it produces a unwanted ball reaction which is called and widely accepted as a "shank."
(Oddly, due to it's recessed position the shank rarely makes contact with the ball.)
The reason a shank happens is because the golfer is trying to play a safe shot. They are trying to "push" the golf ball rather than hit it. In other sports or games when we play a safety we "push" rather than hit. In baseball for example a "bunt" is a safety of sorts and we "push" or hold the bat rather than "swing it."
In golf when we "push," we "push" only the grip portion of the club forward and the clubhead lags behind. When that happens the face twists open allowing the hosel area of the iron club head to enter the impact area first. So in a shank the hands are in front of the ball (as much as 6 to 8 inches) when the club head contacts the ball.
Now for the second important part, "What do I have to do to get rid of them?"
I'm sorry but as far as I know NO ONE has ever gotten rid of "the shank." We may control it and do our best to prevent it but that's the best we can expect.
So, how do you prevent or avoid them. Well you need to do, "the opposite."
To correct it, you "must" reverse the clubs overall position at impact. In this case the club head "must" now come into the ball (impact area) before the grip portion of the club. In a properly hit golf shot the "grip" portion of the club and the "club head" should be in a relatively straight line at impact. Indeed that is our goal but at this time we need to overcome and reverse our present bad habit.
So to do the opposite you must get "the clubhead" into the impact area ahead the hands. Picture a pane of glass so big as to cover an area from the back of the ball up to your hands. In a shank your hands or the grip portion of the club make the initial contact with the glass breaking the top of the glass first. Now to correct it, you want the clubhead to break the bottom of the glass first.
To do it properly: 1. Relax your grip (this is necessary because the wrists must be able to act like hinges and allow the club head to pass in front of them) 2. Mentally picture the club head hitting the bottom of the glass before the hands 3. Just let it happen.
Once a golfer knows what they need to do, then the best way to do it is to simply let the body do it for them. I tell my students, "What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve --- "if" you let it."
The next thing I had my students do was to shank the ball on purpose. That's right, In order to correct anything you must completely understand why it happens. What better way to understand a shank then by intentionally hitting it.
So for your drill, I want you to intentionally hit three shanks in a row. When you do, you will know everything you need in order to avoid or prevent it in the future.
About the Author
Pat Dolan, Golf Professional, specialized in teaching for over 42 years.
The late Pat Dolan taught golf at such prestigious golf courses as "The Colonial Country Club" in Fort Worth, Texas, "The Country Club" in Salt Lake City, Utah and "The Palm Springs Country Club" in the world famous golfing resort of Palm Springs, California. He was the Head Professional at the "The Russell Municipal Golf Course" in Russell, Kansas, "The Jal Country Club" in Jal, New Mexico and "The Riveria Golf Course" in Palm Springs, California. He graduated from the second PGA school in January 1958. It was held at the PGA National Headquarters in Dunedin, Florida. He served as chairman of the education committee for the New Mexico Chapter of the Southwest Section of the PGA for 2 years 1965 and 1966.
Golfers Lee Trevino, Sandra Palmer, Carlynne Whitworth and General James Wilson sought his advice before they became famous.
In his playing career he won a number of professional tournaments and set 7 course records.
He wrote "How to Turn Bogeys Into Birdies" (c)1988" and "The Worlds Greatest Golf Teacher" (c)1994. Pat also authored two newspaper golf columns and a golf advice letter Golfers Improving Easily and Affordably, guaranteed to instantly improve any golfers game.
His business career included serving as consultant to many golf course owners and The Tony Llama Boot Co. The Braille Institute and the John Riley Golf Co. also as loan officer of the Clarendon Trust Co. in Arlington, Virginia and sales manager for various companies. He is the designer of the Sure Out sand wedge in the Ben Hogan line of clubs.
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