There is possibly no worse feeling in the world for a golfer than to hit a shank.
For a left handed golfer, the shank is caused when an iron makes contact with the ball from the heel of he club. Hitting the ball out of the heel, or shank, causes an overloading amount of side spin to be created causing the ball to fly viciously left through the air. The sound, feeling and resultant shot can be soul destroying and dangerously infectious as the shank can become more of a mental problem than technical.
There are, however, a number of technical reasons why players would hit a shank. Firstly, the club could be traveling on an excessive in-to-out swing path. This swing path presents the shank of the club to the ball and is the most common cause. The shank can also be caused if the club travels on an excessive out-to-in path with the club face wide open. This again will present the shank of the club to the ball.
Left handed golfers who are struggling with the shank can use this drill at a driving range or practice area.
The Tee Gate
Players can use the tee gate drill to help forge a more neutral swing path through the ball, it will also help players discover if they are swing too much from outside or inside the ball.
1. At the driving range, place two tees, wooden if on a grass range, rubber on an artificial mat, either side of the where the ball is being hit from.
2. The width of the tees should be just over a club head length. This is because the club head must travel through the ball at impact, but only just!
3. Practice hitting lofted irons from between the gate. If players begin to hit the inside tee they will be swinging too much from the inside. If they hit the outside tee they will be swinging too much from the outside.
4. If players can manage to hit through the gate without clipping the tees, their ball flight should begin to improve.
If players are still hitting the ball towards the heel after practicing with this drill, their angle of attack into the ball could be too steep. This means they are striking down on the ball too much. If this is the case, use the tee gate but try to sweep the ball away and don't take a divot.
Shanks are a terrible thing to contract but using the above drill and identifying the problem can go a long way to curing the affliction.