The “shank” is almost the unmentionable word in golf. It’s the only affliction that golfers are consistently unhappy to discuss and almost has a mystical ability to appear simply via conversation.
As a child, in my first experience with golf, it never created an issue for me. Kids may occasionally shank a ball but, being much wiser in golfing terms than adults (and I’m actually being serious), don’t suddenly think “that’s it – I’ve caught the golf shanks and will be plagued for the foreseeable future”. They simply reload and try again.
When I got back into golf at the start of my challenge I played a round with my cousin who told me that his brother had given up completely, despite reaching an 11 handicap, as a result of a bout of shanks. It seemed like incredibly irrational behavior. That’s of course until I encountered my first bout of them myself…
I documented the bizarre situation in my book Dream On but to briefly re-tell the story what happened was I was badly shanking at the range. A friend, who played off a six handicap, saw me and was laughing at my plight. He went into his bay and, not surprisingly if you believe shanks folklore, started shanking. I obviously felt better and started laughing at his plight.
Along came Debbie who was the pro who helped me out during my challenge, in an attempt to cure my golf shank. She hit a few shots and started shanking herself!
It was an utterly surreal situation but one which immediately made it clear to me that a case of shanks is a mental issue as much as a physical one. And as such it’s incredibly important to deal with as quickly as possible so you can stop it becoming something that festers in your mind when out on the course.
The problem really is that you are hitting the ball off the heel of the club and it catches with the hosel. Somewhere in your addled little golf mind a signal goes out which says – “don’t hit it off the heel” but, as the psychologists tell us, the brain can’t understand a negative command so we hear “hit it off the heel” – and we do…
There are a variety of golf shank cures and solutions but the most important thing to do is to get to the range with a full bucket of balls and exorcise the shanking demons as quickly as possible. In many ways the speed of reaction is far more important than the actual solution.
With that said though one of the best cures I came across is a David Leadbetter tip. He advises addressing the ball STARTING with the ball at the heel! This may seem counterintuitive but, as is so often the case with golf improvement tips and fixes, something counterintuitive will be the best solution.
If you address at the heel and then actively attempt to hit off the toe of the club you are forcing yourself to use the correct swing path. This solution forces a better long term technique than many of those which simply force you to avoid hitting a club cover or tee placed beside the ball. So you’re much more likely to get a result which works and stops you hitting the course with any doubt in your mind.
So remember, the key thing here is the removal of doubt. That may take ten balls or it may take three buckets of balls but you must reach the end of your session with complete clarity in your mind that you have fixed in the issue.
In the Break Par Blueprint with have an excellent technique for shortening you time to absorb a new skill on the range but for now, if you just want to fix that horrible shank, get to the range and try this out.