Ask the Top 100: The simple drill that cures the shanks
Our Top 100 Teachers are here to save your next round. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to cure what's hurting your scores with advice from the very best teachers in the game. Or post your question in the comments section below. I like to think of myself as a relatively good player, but it
seems like just when I start hitting the ball really well, the shanks
show up. I've read as much as I can on the shanks, and I can usually
shake them after a couple of trips to the range. What I would like to
know to know is: what causes a something like this to happen and how
can I prevent my game (and chances of lowering my handicap) from
disappearing?Jason Seith, Ravenna, Ohio Dear Jason, There are two types of shanks: the bad-player shank
caused by a cut across the ball, the result of an exaggerated
outside-to-in path on the downswing; and the good-player shank, which
is just the opposite, that is, a swing path that is too much
inside-to-out. The good news is that you have the good-player shank.
So after you shank it, just announce to your pals, "I have the
good-players shank." It's OK to sound boastful.
The cure involves changing your swing path. You need to have a more
gentle inside approach to the ball. One way to do this is to place a
guide object such a wadded-up sock or your Rolex watch about 3 inches
behind your ball and 3 inches to the right of it. Then take some very short
swings making sure not to hit the guide object, especially if it's your
Rolex. As you gain confidence, take bigger and bigger swings. This
drill should train you to come to the ball with a more gentle
inside-to-square path. What is the secret to figuring uphill and downhill yardages?David Otis, Augusta, Kansas Well, David, if I tell you, it won't be a secret, but what the heck, it's time this thing got out.
The rule of thumb for figuring uphill and downhill yardages is that for every 15 feet of elevation change you add a half-club, so if the green is 30 feet above the level from which you are playing, you would need an extra 10 yards on your shot. Based on this alone you would hit a 7-iron rather then an 8-iron. For downhill yardages, it's just the reverse. To figure out the exact elevation, I like to imagine how many flagsticks (one flag on top of another) it would take to match the height of the green above me. A flagstick is about 7 feet tall so to reach a green two flagsticks up, you should take a half-club more. I shoot an average 95. It's painful. I am inconsistent with all my irons. Only if the ball is up and the lie is perfect, do I strike the ball cleanly. If the lie is not good, I get intimidated and I either hit it fat or hit it thin. What do you suggest?Darren Stanbridge, Grand Terrace, Calif. Dear Darren, Most golfers who need perfect lies are early releasers. An early releaser allows his left wrist to break down too early in the downswing. This causes the clubhead to bottom out before the ball, which causes you to hit it fat.
To fix an early release, you have to do two things:
1. Change your concept: Stop trying to get the club under the ball. You want to hit the back of the ball with a stroke that is going forward toward the target.
2. Keep your chest rotating -- as soon as you stop or slow your chest, your hands flip and you get the scooping impact that causes fat and thin shots. T.J. Tomasi, Ph.D., teaches at the Nantucket Golf Club in Siasconset, Mass. Tomasi is a Class-A PGA Teaching Professional. He holds a doctorate in education and has published 11 books.