Even Tiger Woods has shanked the ball when he least expected it. A shank can send panic into your game because the club head swing path that creates a shank is so close to that of a perfect shot…
Experiencing a shank during a round can be so unnerving that some golfers fall into pure despair when it creeps into their game because the results of a shank are never good.
Recently I conducted an online lesson with a very enthusiastic student from England who suddenly started experiencing the shanks with his short game. Fortunately, we fixed the problem right away.
I thought it would be useful to share some of the points we covered because at one time during your golf career a shank will pop up when you are least expecting it and if you follow these corrections, you can nip it in the bud before it takes over your total golf psyche!
Where shanks occur
As was the case with my student, a shank occurs mostly on short “feely” chip shots where there is not much hand action at impact.
A shank can also occur in the games of golfers who have a severe hook who open their club face at address or try to slow down their hand action on the downswing to counter the hook effect.
Where shanks seldom occur
Although a shank can occur with most swing paths, golfers who experience a fade or slice in their games are very unlikely to experience a shank…so you guys can relax a little.
Swing mechanics of a shank
At impact with the ball the following conditions occur to generate the shank:
– The ball comes in contact with the heel of the club, not the club face
– The club face is wide open at contact
– In most cases, the club head swing path is coming from “inside to out” as it comes in contact with the ball
The last point may seem a little strange because many golfers strive for an “inside to out” swing path to create a draw flight path which is why a shank occurs on a swing path that many would say is close to a perfect shot…
How to correct a shank and kill it for good
Here are a few corrections you can make to eliminate a shank immediately:
– Rotate your hands more into the ball so that you lead into the shot with the back of the left hand facing towards the target at impact and not pointing skywards.
Try this little exercise to give you a better understanding of the hand position that generates a shank at impact:
If you have a correct grip that is not overly “strong”, stand in the address position with a club in your left hand. Now rotate your hand to the right until the back of your hand is aiming skywards.
You will observe that the club face is wide open with the heel leading into the ball.
This is the most likely hand position that will generate a shank at impact and explains why a shank occurs more on “feely” short shots where there is less hand action.
– It is always better to shorten your backswing on short chip shots to accelerate your hands through the ball at impact rather than try to slow the hands down on the downswing for fear of over shooting the shot.
– Also on short chips shots, aim the club face at the target and open your stance to create an “outside in” club head swing path. You will seldom hit a shank if the club head swing path is coming into the ball from “outside in”, even if the club face is wide open.
– On other shots, close the club face a little at address which will take the heel more out of play at impact.
– Make sure you are not standing too upright or too close to the ball at setup. Standing too close to the ball will naturally encourage you to hit the ball more on the shaft end of the club face.
– Check that you are not using a “closed stance” at address that would exaggerate the “inside out” swing path on the downswing.
– Do not rotate your hands to the right immediately on the take away. This flattens the swing and exaggerates the” inside out” club head motion of the swing on the downswing.
Any one or combination of these corrections will eliminate a shank for good.
Good luck and swing sweetly!