The shanks are not a laughing matter (except for your playing buddies, when you choke, and shank one from the fairway of 18). For many of us, “getting the shanks” is a plague to our morale, and handicaps. For others, a shanked shot, is a “whoops” and the game goes on. Regardless of what group you’re in, understanding the causes of the shank will get you on your way to weeding this fault out of your golf game. We’ll cover the three most common causes for a shank and how to fix them in this post. Enjoy!
Shank Cause #1: Overactive lower body
I see this fault occur a lot around the greens – usually when a player’s hitting a wedge shot from 100 yards and in. For many players hitting from this distance, I notice overactive knees and hips. If you slide your knees and hips towards the target on the downswing, your swing path is forced outside your target line, and you will approach impact with a wide-open clubface. The result? A nasty shank.
How should you fix this type of shank? Simple – reduce your lower-body movement. Some great drills to try include making swings with your feet together – this forces your body to rotate rather than slide. Another is to squish a range bucket between your thighs as you swing – the bucket will significantly reduce your ability to move your lower body during your swing. One of the best drills however for this type of shank, is dropping your trailing leg back about 6-12 inches – effectively closing your stance. This will reduce your lower-body’s ability to move while encouraging a golf swing that attacks the ball from the inside.
Shank Cause #2: Out to In Swing Path
If you’re still shanking and your lower-body is not overactive, it’s likely your swing path to blame. The ideal swing path into the ball travels inside your target line, right up until impact. When you start attacking the ball from outside the target line, you will start running into trouble. Many of you are likely coming-over-the-top on your downswing, and this is likely contributing to your out to in swing path, which results in an open clubface at impact, and drastically improves your chances of a shank.
How should you fix this type of shank? Get your swing path in order. One of the best drills to help get your swing back on the right path is the 45 degree ball drill. We’ve posted it previously on this site, with video – be sure to check it out at the link above. Further to that, the final drill in Shank Cause #1 will also help you out.
Shank Cause #3: Poor Wrist Rotation at Impact
Are you not over-active with your lower body, and swinging on an out to in path? Well, if this were the case, I’d bet it’s your wrist rotation to blame. Either you are rotating too late, or not at all, but either way the clubface is being left wide open and your hosel is making contact with the ball first.
You may have heard the terms “release your wrists” before – this is what you need to do to fix your problem. Some great simple drills to reinforce the rotation of your wrists through impact are:
• Swing a weighted club, or multiple clubs at once – the added weight forces the natural rotation of your wrists to happen.
• Tie a towel to the end of your clubs – the added drag makes your wrists rotate.
• Hit golf balls with a tennis racket – the tennis forehand motion is identical to the golf swing’s wrist motion – emulate it.
With practice, you should notice a smoother wrist motion through impact – the result, more power, and no more shank! Give it a try!