Phew, you think you’re having a swell time golfing, then boom, everything goes south at the speed of light at your mix shot. Many have voiced expletives that start with the same letter “s” of this dreadful shot.
The fear of this shot isn’t unwarranted. It simply belittles one’s effort as a player, putting one down a peg or two. Even the most seasoned players have found themselves striking this nightmare of a shot at one time or the other. And as much as it doesn’t take away their skill as golfers, it makes for an unpleasant watch.
Think Ian Poulter, then consider watching his youtube compilation of past matches with these epic misses. If you find yourself cringing, you’re not alone.
What, then, is this shot? You guessed right; it’s the shank.
No, don’t cringe. You’re not on the golf course and haven’t missed your shot.
So put a cork on the embarrassment and humiliation resulting from this shot. You’re still on your A game. Besides, you can still bounce back after this shot if you have a firm grip on your confidence and allow yourself to learn why it happened and take steps to fix it.
Now let’s go into what golf shanks are, how to avoid them, and keep a firm grasp on your confidence. Let’s dive in.
What Is a Golf Shank?
Have you played a foursome at a golf course and gotten shushed at the mention of shanks? Yeah, I can see why that happened.
Golf shanks are considered contagious, and no one wants to go into the game with that in mind.
It’s like climbing Mount Olympus and thinking of falling. First, why would you think about that? As if the climb isn’t difficult enough. Anyways, Shanks happen when you miss your shot by hitting the ball with the hosel of the club instead of the clubface.
When the ball hits the hosel, it exits right or left if you are left-handed. The shank can happen even if your clubface is open, closed, or square.
Hence, golfers term it as a destructive shot.
The rule of thumb is to keep your head in the game and not let the shank meddle with your mind. Letting it get to your brain is the number one way your day can go south in a heartbeat.
What Causes the Shank To Happen?
When you swing your club, you expect a clean shot that gets you appreciative smiles and claps. The shank thwarts that by having the clubface shut at impact enough for the club toe to hit the ground, steering the ball to the right, away from the intended direction.
The ball going that far-right off-course with a closed face is unprecedented. It becomes all the more excruciating when the golfer imagines the shank happened because of an open face. This thought usually fixes the golfer on closing the club to hit a better shot, but alas! It only opens them up for more shanks.
Here are why the shank happens
Moving the Club Excessively Inside on the Backswing
Now is a good time to mention some golfing tricks and what doesn’t work. Now, when you take a shot, you have to take the club to the inside to ensure the swing path has good results at impact.
It sounds like a knowledge every golfer already has at their fingertips, but I have it on good authority that some golfers think an excellent shot happens because the club is open at impact. Please disregard that idea. It doesn’t hold any water.
Weight Is Too Far Forward (On Your Toes)
Are you thinking, is my weight causing me to shank? Most likely, especially if you’re not properly balanced mid-swing and your weight is off. Generally, you know you’re doing the right thing if your weight gets more on the toe and over the bill.
Easy Drills To Show You How To Cure Shanks
Now that we know what a shank is and its causes, let’s discuss a few drills you should imbibe to cure this nightmare.
Here it goes
Drill #1 – Driver Headcover Drill
- For this, your driver headcover has to be on the outside of the ball. Then, ensure the club toe almost touches the head cover at the address.
- Now, are you an over-the-top downswing? If you are, there’s a probability of you hitting or grazing the headcover for this.
- Don’t sit on your laurels yet. Address the ball differently by placing it on the club toe for each tryout. The correct position is to swing from the inside and swing out toward your target.
- With time and consistent practice, you will master swinging to produce draw swings from the inside.
Drill #2 – David Leadbetter Heel Toe Anti-Shank Drill
David Leadbetter offers an excellent tip for golfers that wish for extra actionable options to cure the shank. Kudos to David for his abilities, but I personally think there’s a probability of his tip causing more shanks.
It requires you to know more about your swing path. Intermediate golfers will likely have a field day with it. Here it goes
- David says you should address the ball from the heel while crowding the golf ball. Then while you downswing, aim to make an impact with the iron club toe and ensure your hands are close to your body.
- Another thing of importance is your weight. You must ensure your weight is on your heel to avoid causing a shank with an over-the-top motion on an unevenly distributed weight in your downswing.
- Now, a good tip is best appreciated when actionized. So, practice this shot with a short iron or a pitching wedge. It best characterizes where the shank often occurs.
You can also use the below training aids to help you develop a more sound golf swing:
How To Cure a Case of Shanking Wedges?
Shanks are not just synonymous with pro golfing. You can still hit a shank while chipping or pitching on the greens.
Shank Short Game Drill
- Use either the pitching wedge or short iron and gap weight.
- To start, insert two tees by the ball and ensure the ball is near the green in light rough or fringe. Now, make sure that you place the ee appropriately to accommodate your style. If you’re right-handed, angle the left tee to match the angle of the shaft position at the address. The proper tee, on the other hand, should be straight up and down as usual.
- This way, when you hit the club on the toe, it will hit the correct tee, and if you hit the club off the heel, you will hit the left tee.
- Go on and practice your swings till there’s no room in your mind that you’re good to go and you’re not grazing the proper tee. But avoid the left tee. It leads to the shank.
How To Bounce Back After the Shank
Regardless of Shanks’ negative connotations, you can bounce back from them. Think Ian Poulter once more; he has several shanks under his belt, but you don’t see him caving in and hiding from embarrassment. He bounced back from Shanks that, I may add, happened on the biggest golfing stages.
So yes, you need to study shanks and learn how to come back stronger after hitting one. Also, experience has shown that if you play superbly and save par after the shank, people will remember the save more than the shank.
Now let’s talk about the methods that will help you bounce back. There are as follows:
Calm Your Nerves and Stay Relaxed
If you don’t discipline your mind, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with negative feelings when things are not going your way on the golf court. Emotions such as anger, frustration, and anxiety are prevalent.
To make things worse, you might get it into your head to suppress your emotions, and not to show panic over the shank, thereby doubling the pressure to keep up your appearance. It shouldn’t be so. As much as golfing is a professional game, the reality of things is that mistakes do happen, and perfection is a myth.
So how about you trade negative emotions for positive ones? In place of anger, sorrow, sadness, confusion, and anxiety, try laughing. Take a deep breath and count the shank as a minor setback that your next shot will correct.
Ensure to calm your nerves before approaching your next. If you’re tense, your forearm will bear the brunt of your tension. So, how about you do this, take that deep breath, lighten your grip on the club, relax your forearms, focus, and take that swing.
Be Mindful of Your Weight
Keep your weight back to achieve a clean shot sans shanks. Your weight should be balanced more towards your heel for your next shot. Standing far off from the ball will put you in a position where your weight will be on your toes. And that would not do. So for a better golf shot, remember to stand close to the ball for a healthy swing path.
Picture Your Shot Making a Good Impact
You know negativity quickly wells up when you’re feeling down? Yeah, that’s your survival instinct kicking in. Everyone experiences bouts of negativity, and you might walk down that part after hitting a shank; thinking, will I make the shot?
Now, you need to shelf that negative thought. It’s only going to well up and build pressure in you and most likely cause you to hit the dreaded shank. Instead, picture yourself hitting a perfect shot to salvage the round.
What Is the Best Wedge for Golfers That Shank?
The ideal wedge for golfers grappling with the shanks is the chipper. It combines a putter and an iron, with a shorter length similar to that of a putter. Additionally, the face of the chipper is less lofted compared to other wedges.
It is designed for bump and run shots rather than high-lofted golf shots. If you swing the chipper similarly to a putter, it will cause the ball to go up in the air briefly before rolling toward the hole.
With this, you eliminate the need to open and close the clubface, where most shank-prone golfers struggle. Therefore, a simple chipper would be the most effective wedge for the shanks.
That aside, the chipper is unsuitable for full-swing approach shots to the green, requiring traditional wedges. But most golfers find executing full swings easier than half or three-quarter swings, which leads to confusion. That’s why you should find wedges to help make the game more comfortable and easier for you.
You should know that while the chipper may be the best wedge for golfers struggling with shanks, it may be unsuitable for some types of shots.
The chipper is specifically designed for bump-and-run type shots, where the ball rolls toward the hole after a short flight. It’s not suitable for full-swing approach shots to the green, where a higher trajectory and more loft are needed.
I’ve been working with people all year round, using golf simulators to keep things moving when bad weather is upon us. Practice makes perfect and golf is a sport you have to spend a lot of time on, especially if you have a case of the shanks!
For some golfers, the shank happens because they weren’t paying attention and did not wing properly. A one-time mistake they correct with their next shot. But some other golfers don’t have such discipline. Shanks may be destructive, but you can still hit a perfect shot.
I mean, would you rather walk away humiliated or salvage the situation and show you have the mettle to be a golfer? The latter pulls more weight.
Follow the drills mentioned above to help correct your swing and avoid hitting a shank. Regardless of my preference, try the two drills and see which works best for your game. Feel free to record your swing in slow motion to know what causes your shank.
Take pauses to clear your mind, and Remember, the shank only has power if you weaponize it. So don’t let it meddle with your mind. Be steadfast, think positive, and hit the shot.