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How to Cure the Shanks in Golf

By Izzy Barden

In golf, a "shank" is also known as a "lateral" or even, as simply, the "S-word" to more superstitious players. Many golfers, however, use the term incorrectly, by calling any miss-hit shot a "shank." In actuality a real shank is when the ball comes into contact with the hosel of the club head at impact, causing it to jettison completely off target and fly in a push-slice formation. This means it spins away from the person to the right or left, depending on your dominant hand. Sometimes, even professionals shank the ball, but if you are consistently shanking it, there are some drills you can practice that will help straighten you out.

Swing Place Drill

Drop a ball on the mat or grass of a driving range and do not tee it up.

Address the ball with a high iron or wedge so it is situated directly in the center of the club face. High irons and wedges are best for curing shanks because they are the easiest clubs to hit. Some people may tell you to set up with the ball slightly off the toe of the club face to compensate for the incorrect motion that is causing you to hit it off the heel, but it is never a good idea to set up incorrectly and hope to make a bad swing.

Place a golf tee on the ground directly behind the ball, maybe 6 to 8 inches, and lying flat so it points in the direction of your backswing.

Take the club back in line with the golf tee and stop at a one-half to three-fourths swing. It's best not to start with a full swing, so your body has time to adapt to the changes you are making in your swing.

Begin your downswing, aiming to begin the path of your down swing over the tee, before hitting the ball. Don't concentrate on hitting the ball; just try to force your swing plane to sweep over the flat tee. Most shanks are caused by your club head coming over the top of the ball during your downswing. This drill will help you correct that motion.

Club Face Drill

Drop the ball in the grass and set up to it with a high iron or wedge.

Take the club back to your dominant side, as you would for any golf shot, but stop at a one-half to three-fourths swing.

Look at the club face, if it is wide open, (meaning the face of the club is pointing towards the sky) manually turn your wrists so the toe is pointing towards the sky and the club face is in a perpendicular line to the ground. Often, an open face at impact can cause a shank as well.

Take the club back, stopping at the one-half to three-fourths mark and manually turning your wrists several times before even attempting a downswing.

Begin taking downswings once your hands are comfortable making the correct formation. It may feel strange at first, like you're swinging a closed club face, but that's only because you are so used to swinging an open one.

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