The dreaded shank is experienced by all golfers at all levels of the game, from the beginner to “professionals” like Roy McAvoy from the popular movie Tin Cup. The surprising thing is that it is a very small miss with a very detrimental result, as I demonstrate in Photo 1. There are many causes, but the bottom line to the “hosel rocket” is that you have pushed the the club out from your starting point one-half to three-quarters of an inch forward away from your body (Photo 2).
Here are a few things you can do to instantly correct this embarrassing and card-wrecking miscue.
HEAD COVER TIP
Take one of your head covers and place it approximately an inch outside the ball, as in Photo 3. Swing your club with just one intention — to NOT hit the head cover. Don’t worry about hitting the ball, just try to miss the head cover; if you actually hit a good shot at the same time, all the better! (Photos 4-7)
Hopefully your natural instincts will kick in and your body and arms will do whatever it takes to avoid hitting the object. If the head cover doesn’t work, we go to drastic measures, get a 2 x 4 piece of wood and go through the same drill (Photos 8-9). Once you’ve hit the wood a few times your body will learn very quickly how to avoid it — otherwise know as the Pavlov effect!
Place two balls side by side as shown in Photo 10. Set up to the outside ball, kick the inside ball out of the way but keep that picture in your head. As you swing the club try to hit the imaginary inside ball. You can also use a tee for this drill and actually try to hit it.
If you are shanking the ball with the toe of the club just reverse the process in either of these drills. You can’t use the 2x4 in this situation, though — you’ll damage your precious sticks.
Of course, as with any effective drill, you must start with your set-up. Check your posture at address, as you might be a standing too close to the ball. Check your arm hang — are your arms hanging directly under your shoulders, which is the proper set-up, or inside your shoulder line? Finally, check your weighting; hosel shanking is often caused by your weight starting between toes and heels, then shifting to the balls of your feet on the down swing. It’s a very small and almost imperceptible shift in practice, but its effects are huge.
I have seen golfers with shanking problems try to line the club on the toe of the club. This approach, while seemingly logical, actually tends to worsen the situation. Golf is often a very counterintuitive mental activity: When your mind sees the ball lined up at the toe of your club, your body will react according to what you actually see. In this case you’ll tend to push the club away from your body further, which is the cause to your problem! Try setting up lining the ball on the heerl or hosel of your club. Now your mind will tell your body to do the opposite…hopefully. Otherwise, the drills above will surely work.