The "S" Word
There is apparently a disease going around, because I’ve received three separate emails about that dreaded “hosel rocket”, “sidewinder” that we call the “sh**k“ (I can’t even say it or write it – that’s just bad karma). The emails were somewhat different, but all were looking for a way to avoid that most ugly of all uglies, the demon that can sneak in anytime and the one shot – even more than a yanked 2-footer – that can demoralize you in the middle of a round.

If you break it down, this shot outcome is caused by the clubhead getting outside the intended path, so that contact with the ball is made so far toward the heel of the club that the hosel makes contact with the ball, sending it screaming off at a 45-degree angle to the intended line of flight. Let’s start with a little history.

Back in my “old days” as a high schooler, the blades we played had a much longer hosel than we see now, and a center of mass very much toward the heel of the club. Solid iron shots were hit much closer to the hosel as that is where the sweet spot was. So, when you got about ½” outside the swing path, that hosel came into play and you “sh**ked” it. The weird thing was that those shots were almost always a visual surprise, because they felt very dang close to perfect. I always thought a shot that ugly shouldn’t feel that solid.

But now, we engineer all our clubs to have the “sweet spot” in the dead center of the face, maybe even toward the toe a bit. The “sh**k” is not nearly as common as it once was, but just as nasty when you hit one. So, let’s get into it.

The only way you can hit the ball so that the hosel makes contact, is to get the clubhead on a path toward the ball that is outside where it should be. The first cause of this happens in your set up. We tend to “get closer to our work” when we put wedges and short irons in our hands, crowding the ball at set up, so that we are pre-ordaining this outcome. I like to “manage” ball position at set-up by allowing my left arm to hang naturally from the shoulder and make sure that it does not move toward me to take hold of the golf club. If the left arm is crowded toward your body, it has nowhere to go on the downswing but outward, moving the face to a point where the hosel is the likely contact point. If you battle the “sh**k” occasionally, the first thing to do is check your posture and set up position.

Since the cause of this shot outcome is that the clubhead is coming into the ball from outside the intended path, you can make that happen in two ways. The first is to engage your hands to early, getting over the top and forcing the clubhead outside the intended path. The other way is to move your body core away from its center established at address, so that you completely change the axis of rotation of the swing. If you move the center hub, the perimeter of the swing moves, too.

So, to build a solid short game technique and eliminate the “sh**ks”, work on that relaxed address position, then a simple one-piece swing with the wedges and short irons, with the body core rotating, but not moving out of its center. I like to conjure up images of Steve Stricker’s swing on my wedge shots. He’s the model for a simple swing with few moving parts.

I hope that makes sense – sometimes these are harder to convey without pictures or video. Keep sending those inquiries in. We’ll be giving away our first set of SCOR4161s at the end of July.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
Kurt the Knife says:
if it wasn't for the shank, i'd have no game at all.
7/19/11
 
bobhooe says:
I have a net set up in my garage and this seems to be the only place I catch a case of the shanks. every now and then I hosel one and a ball misses the net to the right and blast right through the sheet rock. I guess because I am tinkering with my swing path or maybe just not commiting but I think it has more to do with the booze than anything.
7/19/11
 
BAKE_DAWG40 says:
I dare not say that word. I swear if I'm on the course and someone mentioned that god awful shot, I'll execute a perfect "S" word in a heartbeat. Last week I was playing my third to a par 5 and thought to myself, "its been awhile since I "S'ed" a short pitch". That's exactly what I did. WEIRD!
7/19/11
 
HotBacon says:
I just took a lesson recently, parttly due to the S's. My setup was "perfect" (or so the pro said), but I pulled the clubhead too far to the inside on the takeaway. Most of the time I could compensate during the downswing, but I got into a habit of starting my downswing w/ my upper body rather than my lower body...making it harder to compensate. Hopefully I won't see another hosel rocket in my life.
7/20/11
 
nswynnerton says:
As much as I would love to win a set of your wedges, alas, it seems that you seem to pretty much cover whatever questions I have. That said, my wish would be to be able to see, heft, and swing your beautiful new instruments. For 40+ years it has been my policy to first try out golf equipment before I buy.
So, my question is...how might it be possible to do those things? Shy of a trip to Victoria (which is not completely out of the question), in the future could one go to some distribution outlet (Edwin Watts would be good) to put one's hands on a SCOR4161?
7/20/11
 
TeT says:
I pulled out me ole 7 iron (Walter Hagen blade from way way back / inherited from the Judge, who passed 2 weeks after Elvis) to compare sweet spot location with my 08' Big Evil OEM ZB's... The "Thwack" that you get from a solid contact on older blades just cannot be beat by the newer stuff, forgot how good it was...

BTW: the sweet spot has evolved by maybe 1/2 a ball or so (maybe more)... It took a few balls to find it on the old clubs...
7/20/11
 
wedgeguy says:
nswynnerton, please contact our sales department at 877-726-7670. Ask for Beau. He'll figure out a way to fix you up.
7/20/11
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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