Shaking Off The Shanks

What’s the most frustrating shot in golf? Some say it’s the pop-up after a great drive. Others say it’s hitting a dribbler on an easy approach shot. Then there are those who say that topping the ball from a great fairway lie is the most frustrating shot. Those mis-hits certainly hurt. But for our money the shank is by far the most frustrating shot in golf. It’s also among the most dreaded. Once you start shanking the ball, it’s often hard to stop—even with golf lessons. If you’re among golfers who’ve started shanking the ball and can’t stop, you’re not alone. Plenty of golfers have suddenly had this problem. Many were unable to stop, even if their lives depended on it. As with most mis-hits in golf, specific reasons exist for shanking a shot. There are also fixes that can help you shake off the shanks. These fixes are simple to execute and apply, and can really benefit your game. With their help, you can rid yourself of the shanks, keeping your golf handicap in check.   A shank can happen many ways. One way is by swinging the club from outside the target line to inside the target line. When you swing outside in, you risk hitting the ball with the clubhead’s neck and hosel. If you’re really good at finding the clubface before impact (or your clubface is closed at impact), you probably won’t shank. If you’re not good at making hand adjustments—and most golfers are not—you’ll shank the shot. The key to stopping this cause of shanks is to swing the club more from the inside out. In other words, start your takeaway inside the target line, and initiate the downswing with the body to prevent coming over the top and swinging across the ball. Some teachers refer to this as “dropping the club in the slot.” Do this and rotate through to the finish and you’ll shank your shots a lot less. Hands Not Releasing Another – cause for shanking is not releasing your hands through impact or releasing them too slowly through impact. The hands must release the club through the impact zone square to the face before contacting the ball. If they don’t, the club makes contact with the neck of the iron first, boosting your chances of shanking the shot. To fix this problem, loosen your hands. Then take a few short swings while focusing on releasing the hands well before you reach the ball. This type of release is unusual, but it helps greatly when it’s time to make a full swing. At that point, your hands will be ready to release right over the golf ball, the way they should. Open Face And Body A third cause of shanking is an overactive body turn. If you’ve read my golf tips newsletter, you know how important body turn is. If the body slides or rotates too much and the arms don’t have time to catch up, the clubface reaches the target wide open, increasing your chances of hitting the ball with the club’s neck. In fact, anytime your body and arms disconnect, you risk shanking your shot. To overcome this swing flaw, try this simple drill that I use in my golf lessons: Align your stance so your front foot is closest to the target and is about a foot in front of your other foot. Your other foot should be behind you. At this point, you should be standing so that it looks like you’re walking forward. Now hit some balls from this stance. The drill teaches you to maintain your turn away from the ball. It also allows your arms to swing from the proper path and release the clubhead on time. It’s a great drill to get your swing coming from the inside out and for limiting excess body rotation through impact—both of which lead to a mis-hit. Shanking is among the most frustrating shots in golf. Once you start, you can’t always stop. Shanking affects golfers at anytime and at any level. Even veteran golfers with low golf handicaps sometimes have a bout of the shanks. Swinging the club from the outside in instead of inside out can cause you to shank. But learning to swing from the inside out will help prevent the dreaded shanks from occurring and your golf handicap from rising.

Jack Moorehouse is the author of this article and best-selling book “ How To Break 80 And Shoot Like The Pros .” He is NOT a golf pro, rather a working man that has helped thousands of golfers from all seven continents lower their handicap immediately. He has a free weekly newsletter with the latest golf tips , golf lessons and golf instruction .

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