The dreaded S word. Some refuse to mention the word around any body that has played golf. Many regard it is another four letter word. Almost every golfer has experienced it, especially in the most critical moment at the most critical juncture in a round. And once it happens, you might as well forget about the rest of the round. In the back of your mind on every shot, on every hole you will be thinking about that dreaded shot to the right.
The shank has quite a few nick names, the lateral, the hosel shot and my favorite…the hosel rocket. So what causes the dreaded lateral? Most people think that it is standing too close to the ball. The fact that the hosel is coming into the ball might make that true but the funny thing is when you move further away, you still Shank the ball.
The reason you shank the ball is because you have lost your space between you and the ball. From a Club Mechanics (club movement) standpoint, your hands and arms have lost the room to swing the club between you and the ball. How does this happen?
The reason you lose this space is due to swinging the club too flat in the backswing. When you do this you steepen the shaft in the downswing. When you steepen the shaft in the downswing you lose the distance you had from the ball.
Correcting the Shank
The only way you can have the club too flat in the backswing is from an over rotation of the hands and forearms. In other words, the hands and forearms rotate causing the club to be flat. The goal is to move the hands and arms correctly so that the club moves on plane in the backswing or even more steep in the backswing. This will allow you to flatten as opposed to steepen in the downswing.
In order to move the club correctly in the backswing you must move the club back without turning the forearms. Here are the steps for making an on plane move in the backswing.
From the correct address position, turn the shoulders and allow the arms to move also. This initial movement will move the club approximately 5 feet but you will notice that the clubface still moves square relative to the plane. This indicates that the forearms are not rotated and that the club movement is exactly in proportion to the torso movement. In other words the club is still “in front” of you, not rotated “behind” you.
From that initial movement you simply hinge the hands upward. This upward movement moves the club on plane.
The feeling of this movement is that you are standing in your address position with your butt against a wall. When you move the club away, the turn of the torso moves the club back and then upward. The club feels as though you could never hit the wall. This movement will keep the club from getting flat in the backswing.
So next time the dreaded s-word sneaks into your swing, don’t panic. As long as you know what causes it, you can get rid of it as fast.