The “Shank”! The most dreaded mishit in the history of golf. You spend months building confidence on the range with practice, hitting thousands of solidly struck balls and then BOOM, you take one swing and your ball takes off almost horizontal to your target line and your game is completely deflated.
You laugh it off, drop another ball and take another swing only to get the same result. Now you’re worried. You start tinkering with your swing and before you know it, you’re lost and you can’t hit a ball straight to save your life.
Believe it or not, the root cause of the shank is pretty well known and there are ways to prevent it from occurring. So if and when you do get the “shanks”, come back to this article and you might be able to save a lot of frustration.
Behind the “Shank”
What it is:
A shank happens when you hit the ball with the housel (the intersection of the clubhead and the shaft) of the club.
It doesn’t matter if the face of your club is open, closed or square, a ball struck on the housel of the club will exit almost directly to the right (left if you’re left handed) with no height and no distance.
How it Happens:
In order to make contact with the ball on the housel of the club, your swing path has to be too far from the inside or too far over the top. With amateur golfers it’s usually the latter. If you’re slicing the ball a lot, you’re coming over the top.
If you consistently hit more of a hook, you come from the inside. In any case, shanks are caused solely by the path of your swing and they have nothing to do with the angle of your clubface at impact.
How to Get Rid of Them:
If you’re consistently hitting the ball well and you just happen to hit a shank, step away and get it out of your mind. Don’t over think it or try to make any adjustments. Chances are you probably just had a mishit and everyone has those. On the other hand, if you’re doing it on a consistent basis there are some drills you can do that will help.
First, find a long cardboard box or a 2 x 4 (you can use a golf club but you don’t want to damage it). Then grab a bucket of balls and go to the range. Lay the board or the cardboard box down with one of the sides aimed directly at your target.
Now take a ball and put it about a half inch away from the board on the side that’s closest to you. Hit the ball without trying to hit the piece of wood. If you’re coming over the top you won’t be able to do it. Hit as many balls as you need to but get use to not hitting that piece of wood.
Another easy solution that may help is to stand a little farther away from the ball when you take your stance. As you increase your distance from the ball it becomes more difficult to come over the top and you’ll be less likely to make contact with the housel.
One last quick exercise you can do is to actively rotate the face of the club in your backswing. Many players that shank the ball take the club back with a shut face. Rotating it will force you to swing more around your body thus making it more difficult to cast or come over the top.
In any case, the most important thing you can do when you get a case of the “shanks” is to not lose confidence. In some instances it may be beneficial to take a couple days off from the game. Work on your putting, read some golf books, do anything that can take your mind off your swing for a little while. It will pay off.