The Sh@nks
By Erika Larkin on 10/16/13
It almost feels like a sin to say the word, let alone write it, but let's face it we have all had a case of the "shanks" at one point or another along our golf journeys.

We usually associate the shanks with a horrible shot that goes dead right off in a low squirrelly sort of fashion. The late, great and renowned Harvey Penick called them "lateral shots". If you toe a shot bad enough it can be mistaken for a shank but a true shank actually happens from Inner Heel/Hosel contact with the ball. So there are two ways that I've seen this occur:
  1. A really inside-out approach to the ball with an open face (hosel leading)

  2. A really outside-in approach (steep) where the hosel comes straight down on the ball
In both instances, the golfer is usually too close the ball at address or moves into the ball with his/her body or hands during the swing.

Shank cures:
  1. Stand farther back from the ball and stay back! Get a feeling like your stay "seated" longer in your downswing.

  2. Work on shorter swings like chip shots and build up your confidence making solid contact. Take some swings with straight wrists (no hinge) so that you don't cast the club head down too soon.

  3. Practice rotating your forearms over on the way through impact to try and make that the toe of the club has a chance to hit the ball before the heel/hosel. You could even start with the club slightly closed and practice that way a few times until you get some better results.

  4. Drill: Place two rows of tees in the ground on either side of the ball (see picture) or guide the club straight through impact. If your club head touches either row of tees, you are coming too far from the inside or outside.
If none of these work -- yikes, I'm sorry -- it's time you sign up for a lesson with your local PGA Teaching Professional!


Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community, at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine — and she's oobgolf's newest columnist! She writes on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, e-mail her at ErikaLarkin@pga.com. Enjoy!


[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
Thanks for the tips. As an occasional sufferer of the lateral shot, I find the mental stress the worst. Once you hit one, suddenly areas on the course you never considered in play become a problem.
10/16/13
 
GBogey says:
Agree! Even if you know how to fix one of these, the tough part is hitting another shot knowing what you just did.

Question - I went through a stage where I had the occasional shank of a pitch / chip shot - is this any different from a full swing shank in cause and cure?
10/16/13
 
Erika Larkin says:
Hi GBogey,

It's no different but can easily happen if you're trying to open the clubface too much for a pitch shot which just increases the odds of the hosel hitting the ball with improper swing path.
10/16/13
 
aaronm04 says:
I prefer the term "hosel rocket."
10/16/13
 
DougE says:
I am always so surprised when it happens..."What the hell did I do?"

Unfortunately once one happens, it seems the door is open and the thought of more sneaking in gets solidly in my head.

When it happens, I'm not so sure which is worse, the embarrassment or the maddening result.
10/16/13
 
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