1 Position from the ball
The first thing to check should be how far from the ball you are standing. Too close and you’ll lose your spine angle in the downswing, lift out of the shot and hit an open-faced shank. Too far away and the momentum of the swing will cause you to lean into the ball through impact – again, the shank is the most likely result. To help, picture a weightlifter just before they lift. Their shoulders are over the middle of their feet, with their weight sitting over the balls of their feet. As you address the golf ball, get your weight in the right position and then let your arms hang naturally down – there should be a gap of about an open hand’s width between your thigh and the butt end of the club. This is the right distance to be standing from the ball and should help you set the perfect posture.
2 Unstable Grip
If you are asking yourself, why do I shank, the next checkpoint is your grip and in particular, your grip pressure. Some players have such a light grip pressure that the club moves in their hands during the swing. Again, this could be the problem. To check yours, place some grass firstly on top of your left thumb and then between the butt of the club and the pad of your left hand. This grass should remain in place during the swing. If your grip pressure is too light it is likely to fall down.
3 Swing path
Perhaps the most common reason for the shank relates to the swing path. Most golfers know that the ideal swing path through impact comes from inside to outside the ball-to-target line. However, this knowledge (and the desire to attack the ball from the inside) causes players to whip the club off on the inside in the takeaway. From the top of the backswing, the only way to get the club back to the ball is to come ‘over-the-top’. Ironically, this causes the out-to-in swing path the player was looking to avoid and crucially, the hosel of the club is the first thing to be presented to the ball. To help, place a tee behind the ball, just outside the ball-to-target line. As you take the club away keep the head working just inside the tee, then as you come in to strike the ball, aim to miss the tee on the inside. This might take a while to perform successfully and you’re likely to hit some bad shots along the way but keep working on it. This simple drill will help you to groove a much better swing path.
4 Sliding into the ball
You’re last checkpoint relates to the way your lower body is working in the downswing. Sometimes a shank is the result of a lower body ‘slide’ through the downswing – the knees bend and start to move towards the target causing the hosel to lead into the golf ball. A great drill designed to stabilise your lower body is to place your golf bag next to your left hip at address. As you start the downswing your hips should bump into the bag and then your lower body turns (without sliding towards the target). If you find yourself clattering into the bag (with the bag coming close to falling over) work on stabilising your lower body.
Andrew’s Shanking Checklist
– Stand the correct distance from the ball
– Ensure your grip pressure is not too light
– Work on developing an in-to-out swing path
– Prevent your lower body from ‘sliding’ in the downswing