A shank is usually a one-off, but if you’re struggling, set the face of your favorite iron next to a golf ball and take a look. All that open area above and to the sides of the ball is what you need to avoid. Hit it right where it touches your club on the ground, and you’re golden.
Unfortunately, most of our shots aren’t golden. A shank usually happens when we drive the club outside-in and strike the hostel (heel) instead of the sweet spot. So, fixing the shank is nothing more than hitting the sweet spot, and you can do it!
Tips to Avoid the Shank
Have you ever shanked a ball on a 20-foot chip shot? Probably not. That’s because great golf comes from a natural flow of energy and muscle memory, provided you’ve found a swing that works well for you. What hurts your game is holding your club with a death-grip and trying to kill the ball, which we usually do in anger over a prior lousy shot.
Suppose you are playing the best golf course in Central Oregon. In that case, you also might hold your club a bit too tightly in apprehension when you have a water shot at River’s Edge that’s challenging. That’s why it’s fun, and that’s why you need to trust your usual firm grip on the club that starts with the club shaft across the middle of your fingers. Then, close your fingers into your palm. If you start with the club shaft in the palm of your hand or leave fingernail marks in your palm, that’s too tight and will increase your chances of a shank.
As for your stance, it may seem counterintuitive, but don’t move farther away from the ball to avoid striking the hostel. Moving too far away will make you lean into and over the ball with your weight on your toes.
Instead, keep your weight back (no, not on your back foot) on your heels slightly to improve your balance. You should feel a minor weight on the right side of your right foot as you draw your club back (the left if you are a lefty).
Next, as you gaze off the tee box at Bend’s top golf course, let your mind clear and then think about keeping your swing inside-out. The path your clubhead takes in the downswing is critical. If it travels to the right of the target (for righties), you’ll have more success striking the middle of your clubface. Again, this may seem backwards but try it and see!
As a final tip, remember to keep from sliding. During your downswing, your hips should move gently towards the target just before your lower body turns. If you’re too hippy, you’ll slide into the ball and increase the chances of a shank as the hostel gets to the ball first. Avoid a heavy hip-check towards the target and stabilize yourself the best you can, and you’ll avoid the shank!