A slice is usually manageable. Fat shots typically cost you one stroke at a time. Topped shots are more embarrassing than damaging.
But shanks… Shanks are a far nastier creature. Golf’s version of a terminal illness, the shanks wrap the consequences of every other bad shot into one vile mutation.
To understand a shank, first you must understand the golf club.
The joint where the shaft connects with the clubhead is called the hosel or neck. On an iron, this rounded piece extends to the bottom of the club, and when the ball is pinched between the heel and hosel, the result is a shot which rockets off to the right (for a right-hander) – sometimes, almost directly perpendicular to the target line.
(On most drivers, fairway woods and hybrids, the shaft enters at the top of the clubhead, so there’s no extended hosel. Thus, these clubs are practically shank-proof.)
A shank happens when the club is pushed outward during the downswing, aligning the heel and hosel with the ball. In extreme cases, the golfer may swing all the way across the ball, striking it with the back of the club’s neck and sending it to the left.
A shank typically sounds and feels quite harsh, sometimes causing an unpleasant vibration in the hands. As any golfer who’s ever suffered a bout of the shanks will tell you, there’s nothing in golf worse than the fear of hitting one. Well, except actually hitting one.
Here’s the good news: Like any other golf malady, the shanks are not only treatable, they can be permanently cured. This series of tips will walk you through drills that will rid you of this dread disease.