Fix My Shank!!
If you've ever struggled with a shank, I've got some good news and bad news. First the bad news: THERE IS NO EASY FIX. You have to commit to a good grip and posture. You have to commit to being oily with your wrists and making a proper turn straight back and up so the club will not get stuck behind you. And finally you have to commit to hitting down on the ball and learning how to do that. If your grip, posture and turn are correct you will be able to fire at the ball as hard as you want. Whats the good news you ask? You finally have a place, where someone shares their struggle and success with you. You also have a place to share your struggle thru uploaded videos and get feedback in a safe environment. Every good golfer has hit one so you are not alone. It's taken me over 10 years but I am ready to tell my story to help you.
I was lucky to be introduced to the game as a kid, by a father learned to love the game as a young professional banker. My father's best friend won the US Pub Links so my exposure to high level golf was easy. He also befriended a co-worker who had a sister on the LPGA tour so I was exposed to life on tour thru tournaments in Portland and Washington. Golf was fun but not interesting enough at that time so I took it all for granted. I mean I loved trying to hit the guy picking up balls at the old range in the trailer at Jefferson Park, but lessons were a chore and truthfully basketball, football and baseball were more fun at the time. So I took it all for granted. At this stage of my career I don't ever remember hitting a shank. I know I did hit bad shots at the range, but I was to young to care. And maybe that's part of the secret. I also like hitting my woods more than irons so that might be why. Its harder to hit a shank with a wood (but it can be done). When I played a couple of times in college my Dad implored me to learn to hit the 4 iron and I tried. I was just enamored with the woods and it shows.
My First Shank
After Tiger won his first Masters in 1997, I fell in love with the game. By the early 2000's I had broken 90 and established my handicap. I started playing in tournaments and started hitting my driver good distances. I knew what it felt like to play pretty good golf and then I hit the first shank that I can vividly remember.
Druids Glen is a really tough course, South of Seattle. I was playing a Twilight round with my Dad and Uncle. At this time my Driver was capable of 260-270 easy and in the state of Washington that is good because we don't get a lot of roll. The second hole is a short par 5 probably 490 yards that day. I had achieved an Eagle at this point so I was hitting driver and I popped one out there good. I am sure walking to my ball I was licking my chops. Well at this time I didn't have a good routine so I am sure I nonchalantly got to my ball with the sole intent of going for the green. "what are you going to do, go to work and tell your friends you laid up?".
Well lets just say that swing was less than stellar and the ball kicked dead right into the water. You can see hole 2 in the picture. Hitting a 4 or 5 iron up to that green is menacing for any amateur golfer. Truth is the water wasn't in my mind. Only the green, but from this point forward I would always have to think about that shot. Nothing dawned on me that my grip, setup or swing path could be the problem. Boy little did I know.
Damn Near Brought Me to Tears
As I mentioned I started playing tournaments soon after I fell in love with the game. I have been an athlete since the age of 8. I love winning so golf was something that made me want to compete. I love the challenge of doing well at something that is extremely difficult.
In 2010 or so I signed up for the Eastside Amateur at Willows Run in Redmond, Washington. I'm probably at 15 handicap at the time. I start out very steady in this tournament. To the point my playing competitors (who I don't know) are saying "Dude keep it up. You are probably in the lead". This is exciting because there aren't a lot of things better than playing your best when the heat is on. Then I get to hole 8 a short par 4 where you have to layup with an iron.
I can't really remember all that happened, but I carded a 13 and immediately knew I had ruined it with 3 or 4 shanks on this hole. I had the feeling that I could cry, but I didn't. I could have walked off but I didn't. I stuck with it. Coming in I probably hit a few more shanks, but nothing stands out like hole 8. When it goes bad, you feel helpless.
Don't worry this isn't a sad story, but I need you to understand your journey to fixing your shank won't be easy. You have to go thru it to get to it. I reached an 8 handicap with a shank. I have won small tournaments with a shank. Lots of birdies and skins with a shank, but then I realized I will never fix it if I don't attack it the right way. I am going to help you shorten your approach to attacking it by sharing my pain and process. I am not sure you ever truly cure it, but you can build a proper routine and setup to minimize the amount of times you see it.
The Road to Recovery
Right around 2011 I had started a golf club with some other fellas. We started having tournaments and I wasn't playing how I expected. The shank was showing itself more often, usually on the range the day before a tourney so I would have to think about it during the round and I didn't know how to address it by myself. I thought my grip was fine. I thought my process was fine. My takeaway, etc. I mean I was able to score in the 80's, even broken 80 but it wasn't translating. I was also losing my father to Dementia at that time so the one guy I could have talked to I wasn't able to. Bill and I probably talked about it but we didn't solve it, partly cause I didn't really acknowledge it.
My crew at the time (and to this day) has major tournaments aligned with the professional golf tours. So when they have their Open Championship, we have our Open Championship. This year we were playing Sumner Meadows, out south of Seattle and I was excited to play. The one good thing was despite playing badly with a shank it never took my desire to play. Golf is so hard it can run you away. Luckily it never did.
My other struggle was when you run a tournament you don't get to properly warm up to complete because you are herding cats to get everyone teed off. I had no idea how hard it was and on this day we had drama. I was shanking it so bad at this time that there were times on the course I was worried to swing. It was bad. I ended up posting a score in the 100's as an 11 handicap. It was bad, but I had one break.
One of my friends and competitors (who is a damn good golf teacher) reached out to me and genuinely asked whats up and said let's commit to fixing this. That was probably seven years ago. We went back looking at my grip. It was horrible to loose and flimsy so the club slipped around. We looked at posture and letting arms hang. He said things to me at that time that took years to make sense. Each year I would let my old habits creep back. I would have rounds of brilliance where I would hit 4 irons on to par 5's in two that would look like things on TV. I would score well those rounds when my timing was on, but then drive 1 mile from the course and not be able to explain what I did so the next time I played I could shoot high 90's after just scoring a 78. It isn't until now that I realize golf is extremely difficult. If you are not committed to great fundamentals you can't play great golf all the time. I am committed. This isn't to say I will never hit one again. Only that I will prepare to hit the best shot I can and I have fundamentals that are established with the goal of hitting a good shot.
Fixing a shank is a lifetime commitment to learning to love the golf swing and creating a reproducible swing. Good players and professionals hit them everyday. The only difference is they know what causes it and how to make good swings that prevent them. With this site I will continue to share my journey. I invite others to share theirs and commit to making the game easier for all to play at a high level. The hard thing about fixing a shank is the lack of good support. With this site you can upload videos and we will give you commentary. Just click the Follow Button on the header of the Top Stories page and create your profile. From their you can make posts and attach videos. Once the video is uploaded we will start the journey to improve your swing.