Don't fear the shank, just eliminate it from your game

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The shank can lead to some miserable experiences on the golf course. But if you know what causes them and are comfortable enough to fix it, you’ll have nothing to fear.

The shank (by my definition for the sake of this article) is when the ball contacts the hosel of the club. The most often result is a low, quick shot well right of the target (for a right-hander).  You can shank any club in the bag, but most often it happens with shorter clubs, especially wedges.

I was watching the seconnd round of the LPGA’s Safeway Classic when I happened to witness one of the tour’s young star players get a case of the shanks. On the 17th hole, Lexi Thompson hit not one but two “lateral” shots (as some call it) with her wedge as she was trying to get on the green.

At the time Lexi was hovering around the cut line, but she quickly saw hope fade away as she would go on to make an 8 on the par 4.

Lexi isn’t alone when it comes to the best players in the world falling victim to the shank, but as I watched her struggle, I saw a lesson to be learned.

Most shanks can be contributed to a temporary lack of focus, but there are some fundamentals and swing keys, if incorrect, that can make the margin of error very slim.


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The first step to safeguarding yourself from the shank is to check and double check your set-up fundamentals. The easiest test for this is to check your balance. If your balance is in your toes or heels it is very easy for the club to move outside the ball during the swing. So make sure your weight is balanced on the balls of your feet and you should be good to go.

Standing the correct distance from the ball is another very important factor when eliminating the shank. Get too close to the ball and the danger level is going to be high. Get the correct distance by making practice swings and pay attention to where the club hits the ground. If you can hit the same spot over and over, you have likely found a good distance from the ball.

So let’s say you have a perfect set-up, but you still hit the shank. As was Lexi’s case, this can happen when your arms swing away from your body and become disconnected through impact. This is usually caused from a lack of upper body rotation.

To fix it, try this simple drill: Place a towel across your chest under both arms. Using a wedge, make half swings focusing on using your chest to swing the club. The towel should stay under your arms from start to finish. When you get comfortable hitting the ground in the same spot over and over, try it with a ball.

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