If you’ve ever played golf, you know that there are few things more frustrating than shanking the ball. The shank, which occurs when the ball hits the hosel of the club, sending it off in a completely different direction than intended, can be demoralizing. But fear not, there are ways to get rid of the shanks and improve your game.
Understanding the Causes of the Shank
Before we dive into how to correct the shank, it’s important to understand what causes it in the first place. The shank occurs when the ball makes contact with the hosel of the club instead of the clubface. This can be caused by a number of things, including swing path, clubface angle, weight distribution, and grip.
Swing path refers to the direction that the clubhead travels during the swing. If the clubhead is traveling too far from the inside, towards the golfer’s body, it can cause the hosel to come in contact with the ball. Conversely, if the swing path is too far to the outside, away from the golfer’s body, it can cause the clubface to be open at impact, resulting in a slice. To avoid shanking the ball, it’s important to have a swing path that is neutral, with the clubhead traveling straight back and through the ball.
Correcting Swing Path
Now that we understand the importance of a neutral swing path, let’s look at how to correct it. One effective way to adjust your swing path is to practice hitting balls with a tee placed just outside of the toe of the club. This will force you to make contact with the ball more toward the center of the clubface and encourage a more neutral swing path.
Another way to correct your swing path is to focus on the movement of your hips during the swing. If your hips are sliding too far to the right (for right-handed golfers), it can cause your swing path to become too far to the inside, leading to shanks. To prevent this, focus on keeping your hips still during the swing, allowing your arms and hands to lead the club through the ball.
Adjusting Clubface Angle
The angle of the clubface at impact is another important factor in preventing shanks. If the clubface is open at impact, it can cause the ball to make contact with the hosel of the club. To adjust the clubface angle, start by checking your grip. If your grip is too weak, meaning that your hands are turned too far to the left on the club, it can cause the clubface to open at impact. Adjust your grip to a more neutral position, with the V formed by your thumb and index finger pointing toward your right shoulder (for right-handed golfers).
Another way to adjust the clubface angle is to practice hitting shots with a closed clubface. To do this, intentionally turn your hands to the right on the grip, which will cause the clubface to close. Hit shots with this grip until you feel comfortable with the closed clubface, then adjust your grip to a more neutral position. This will help you develop a feel for where the clubface should be at impact.
Improving Weight Distribution
Weight distribution is another important factor in preventing shanks. If your weight is too far on your toes at address, it can cause you to move forward during the swing, bringing the hosel of the club closer to the ball. To improve your weight distribution, focus on keeping your weight on the balls of your feet, rather than on your toes. Additionally, make sure that your weight is evenly distributed between your left and right feet.
One way to check your weight distribution is to place a golf ball under the arches of your feet at address. If you feel like you’re pushing down on the balls of your feet to keep your balance, your weight is likely too far forward. Adjust your stance until you feel like your weight is evenly distributed, with a slight bend in your knees.
The grip is the only connection between the golfer and the club, making it an important factor in preventing shanks. If your grip is too weak, meaning that your hands are turned too far to the left on the club, it can cause the clubface to open at impact. Conversely, if your grip is too strong, meaning that your hands are turned too far to the right on the club, it can cause the clubface to close at impact.
To adjust your grip, start by checking the position of your hands on the club. A neutral grip should have the V formed by your thumb and index finger pointing toward your right shoulder (for right-handed golfers). If your grip is too weak or too strong, adjust the position of your hands accordingly.
Another way to check your grip is to look at your knuckles at address. Ideally, your knuckles should be visible on the back of your left hand, with only two or three knuckles visible on your right hand (for right-handed golfers). If you can see all four knuckles on your right hand, your grip is likely too strong. If you can’t see any knuckles on your left hand, your grip is likely too weak.
Drills to Eliminate the Shank
In addition to making adjustments to your swing, there are several drills that can help you eliminate the shank. One effective drill is to place an object, such as a headcover, just outside the ball at address. This will encourage you to swing the club more from the inside, preventing the hosel from coming in contact with the ball. Another drill is to practice hitting shots with a tee placed just outside of the toe of the club. This will help you make contact with the ball more toward the center of the clubface and encourage a more neutral swing path.
How to Incorporate Drills into Your Practice Routine
To get the most out of these drills, it’s important to incorporate them into your practice routine. Start by hitting a few balls with the drill, then hit a few balls without the drill to see if you can replicate the same swing. Repeat this process until you feel comfortable with the new swing pattern.
Additionally, it’s important to practice with a purpose. Don’t just hit balls aimlessly on the range, but instead focus on specific aspects of your swing that you’re trying to improve. Keep track of your progress and make adjustments as needed.
Getting rid of the shanks in golf can be a frustrating process, but with the right adjustments and practice, it’s possible to eliminate them from your game. Remember to focus on a neutral swing path, adjust your clubface angle, improve your weight distribution, and correct your grip. Incorporate drills into your practice routine to reinforce these changes and track your progress along the way. With persistence and hard work, you’ll be able to say goodbye to the shanks and hello to better golf shots.