First, get away from the ball at address. We’re all prisoners of our own perception and, even though you may not feel that you’re any closer to the ball, it’s my experience that most of my students who shank have begun crowding the ball noticeably at address.
Second, address the ball with your weight more toward your toes than your heels. Your body will always seek a balanced state when you put it in motion. That means that if you start on your heels, your body will attempt to move to a more balanced position toward the center of your feet. This, of course, will move your body and the heel of the club closer to the ball. Conversely, if you start with your weight favoring your toes, your body will again try to move to a balanced position during the swing that will be more toward the center of your feet. In this case, the heel of the club will be moving away from the ball to a position more inside the target line.
Third, look at a spot about two inches inside the ball position toward your feet and try to hit that spot with the center of the clubhead. Some students find this an excellent choice, while others are uncomfortable doing it. Try it regardless of how it feels to you. It can really work wonders on the golf course. Just pick out a piece of grass or any irregularity that you can focus on and look at it during the swing. It’s just a way of adjusting your perception so you can hit the ball more toward the toe side of the sweet spot.
Finally, try to hit all your shots on the toe of your club for the rest of the round. At this point in the game, you no longer have the luxury of trying to hit the ball on the center of the face. Remember, shanking isn’t so much a golf swing problem as it is a hand/eye coordination problem. For that reason, you must use hand/eye coordination solutions. Many people suffer needlessly from chronic shanking because they try to solve this problem with golf swing corrections. You must have a measure of control over your clubhead as it swings, much the same as a carpenter must control the hammer when driving a nail. Your hand/eye coordination system is what gives you that control. Learn to move the club with skill, not by chance.
After The Round
Building better skills on the practice tee after the round will go a long way toward removing the dreaded shank from your repertoire of shots. One of the most effective ways to do this is to use a toe board. A toe board is any block of wood that you place just outside the ball so that if you hit the ball on the heel of the club, the toe will hit the board. Hit as many balls as it takes to be able to make center-face contact with the ball and consequently not hit the board with the toe of your club.
So don’t fear the shank any longer. Fix it forever—first, on the golf course and then on the practice tee. Remember, just take better aim; it is, after all, your responsibility, not your golf swing’s.
A.J. Bonar, a PGA professional with three decades of teaching experience, is director of golf at AJ Golf Schools in San Diego, Calif.
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