It's a shot that strikes fear into all golfers and often rears its ugly head at the worst possible moment. In the video and article below, PGA pro Dan Grieve shares a couple of simple drills that will help you improve your ball-striking and get rid of the dreaded shanks...
There are two main causes of a shank. Either the swing path comes excessively from the inside or from the outside. So, if you’re struggling with this shot, you need to work out which category you fall into. And don't just take our word for it. Arccos data has revealed that around 40% of the difference between a scratch golfer and a 12-handicapper is through approach play, so it's going to make a huge difference to your game.
But before you work on your swing path, you need to make sure you’ve got the basics down. I see a lot of people shanking because of poor posture or because they stand too close or far away from the ball. Too close and you won’t have the room to open up through impact and too far away and you’ll start reaching for the ball, causing the weight to move onto your toes.
Here are a couple of drills that will help you get back on track…
Better players tend to get stuck on the inside approaching impact as a result of too much leg drive and hip slide, forcing the hand path out to the right and exposing the hosel.
A really easy fix to get the feeling of your hand path working more around your body with better rotation, is just simply to hit balls with your feet together. Don’t worry about distance, just take an 8 or a 9-iron and clip some shots away.
The reason this drill works so well is because it forces you to rotate your hips. If you try to slide, you’ll quickly lose your balance so, at the range, work on hitting some half shots with the feet together and that’ll neutralise your path.
Alternatively, if you’re coming over the top, which is probably the more common cause, you can use a prop. In the video, I’ve got a headcover, which I put just outside the ball. Don’t make it too easy for yourself, you only want about a centimetre between the toe of the club and the headcover.
If you get to the top of the swing and cut across the ball, you're more likely to make contact with the headcover and therefore hit a shank. Instead, let your instincts take over. The only aim is to miss the headcover, so let that thought encourage your arms to drop more on the inside. Repeat this drill at the range and you’ll start to get the club on a much better path to improve the consistency of your ball-striking.
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Location: Woburn GC
Dan is one of the leading coaches in the UK, a Fellow of the PGA and a short-game virtuoso. He has had considerable success with a collection of tour pros, helping them to Order of Merit titles and major victories, and his Short Game School is the most attended in the UK. His students, past and present, include Charley Hull, Georgia Hall, Inci Mehmet and Iona Stephen.
Most common problem:
Swing – over the top , help by getting the basics correct at address and making them aware how to get the club online coming down.
Short game – creating spin and feel around the greens, help by educating on what the short game actually is (weak on purpose) and understand bounce and how they can apply it to different lies/situations.
Greatest success story:
Helping Georgia Hall from World No. 450 to No. 6 and winning a Major, two Order of Merits and Solheim Cup appearances.
Alex Hay was a great influence during my first few years at Woburn. In sport more generally Sir Clive Woodward has taught me how to deliver at the highest level.
Most common fault:
Flipped right hand (hands behind the ball). Understand a correct coil/load going back and how to sequence better coming down so the chest opens up and gives the arms space to deliver a stronger impact. Lots of body action drills to enhance the feel, with and without the ball.
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