Play Ugly, Score Beautifully

Stop the bleeding and get back on track

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Hitting shanks off the hosel is as ugly as it gets! If you're plagued with this ill, here's a quick drill to try to hopefully banish your shanks for good.

First, grab two golf balls and position them as I have here, with one where you normally position the ball (white ball) and another an inch or two closer to you (yellow ball). Next, set up over your first ball (white ball), take the club back, and try to hit the inside (yellow) ball. You'll quickly feel what it means to pull that hosel away from the intended ball you're trying to hit, helping you make contact more on the center of the clubface. Now, this drill may not be a lasting swing fix, but it can help you put your shanks at bay, at least until you have time on the practice tee with an instructor.

What about on the course? Well, you can't legally play two balls, but you can certainly pretend while you practice. So if the shanks suddenly appear, imagine the yellow ball inside the intended ball you're set up to and try to hit. This will quickly force you not to fall or lean into the ball through the downswing; instead, it will force you to stay away from the ball and make solid contact.

This drill/technique may seem extreme and pretty ugly, but it just may be the fear-inducing formula you need to stop leaning into the ball as you swing, which, folks, is the number-one reason why people shank. They shift their weight toward the ball, not toward the target. And, by the way, even if you don't shank very often, this is a great drill to practice for helping you avoid coming over the top and hitting from outside-in.

Left: See the L formed by my clubshaft and left arm? That's all the backswing you need for a knockdown shot. Right: The L returns! Concentrate on this L during your whole swing and be sure to rotate your body.

Sometimes it seems no matter how you try, you just can't hit the green. And, often, when I see golfers who are struggling with accuracy from the fairway, they do the opposite of what you should do to try and rein in their shot dispersion. What do they do? Well, many golfers tend to ramp up their swings in hopes that a bigger, more powerful swing will help sync up their swings so they can hit straighter shots. And, in some cases, that may be true! But with a faster, bigger swing, it becomes more likely that a swing flaw you once had will only get worse.

Here's what I suggest you do when you just can't hit an iron straight. Switch to the knockdown shot, and start swinging from L to backward L, that means, cutting your backswing and followthrough almost in half and concentrating more on making solid contact than hitting the ball a long way.

By the way, you can still make an aggressive swing hitting knockdowns. I'm not suggesting you should swing easy. Instead, consider shortening your swing and limiting the amount of mistakes that can occur as you take the club back and on the way down. Your shots may not fly as far with this type of swing, but I'll bet they fly a lot straighter.

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