Common Faults and Cures

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The Shank ... This is the most insidious shot in the game.  Almost all golfers have hit an occasional "lateral" or "el hosel".  This problem is so emotionally overwhelming, most golfers even avoid the use of the word.  The dreaded "S" follows Murphy's law and it will typically come at the worst possible moment.  The occasional S will rear it's ugly head for almost every player.  The real problem is when it visits and stays.  Please note the slightly different shades of blue on the page

There is only one cause of a shank!  Shanks are directly caused by "rolling" your hands in the first six inches of the backswing.  This error is easily cured by simply taking your hands out of the swing.  Removing your hands can be accomplished by doing something right.  Getting your hands out of your swing is done by correctly using your wrists and forearms.  Your wrists can only move in four ways ... flexion, extension (wrist bends backwards or forward) radial flexion (thumbs bend or cock towards the radius or top bone) and ulnar flexion (wrist bends towards your pinky) ... ALL OF THESE MOVEMENT ARE DEAD WRONG!  The forearms can only flex/straighten or turn around the elbow (pronation/supination ... thumb turns outward on your top hand and inward on your bottom hand).

The shanks affect everyone.  It is just a matter of how frequently.  Tour pros occasionally skank one off the hosel!  This is usually an indication of nervousness or distracted concentration.  For the recreational player, it is an indicator of lack of cause and effect knowledge, a fundament movement error or the same things that affect tour players.

DON'T DO THIS ... roll your forearms or flex the wrists!

DO THIS ... Keep the hands out of the swing AND keep the club in front of your chest by initiating your "sling" motion with a rotation of the shoulders.  This is the only technically correct and natural way to do this tiny amount of work!  A simple trick that guarantees success by eliminating unwanted wrist and forearm movement is to use a "two-handed" takeaway technique.  Push the top hand backwards and pull the bottom hand back.  A two-handed takeaway is an example of a fundamental "technique" as compared to a "gimmick" fix.  A gimmick for the shanks is to firm up your grip pressure in the the index finger of the top hand and the pinky finger of the bottom hand.  (pressure firms up muscles in both forearms, making it more difficult to do bad movements).  What's the difference?  A fundamental technique is for deliberate practice and a gimmick is for a quickie fix, on the course.  This is just a band-aid to stop the bleeding.  Gimmicks may have extra or unintended consequences!  Gimmicks do not last!

This short post is ALL we or anyone else should have to say about the shanks!

Also, please note the repeated use of the word fundamental.  Some teachers dispute the existence of basic fundamentals.  Adding the word basic in front of the word fundamental was intentional, not just redundant!  There are common things you will do right or you will pay the price with a bad shot result The idea fundamentals do not exist comes from the wrongheaded view that individual differences in some great golfers "proves" there is more than one way to hit a golf ball ... of course there is!  BUT ... there is a price to be paid in the form of inconsistency.  Fundamental soundness CAUSES consistent, positive expectations and results.  Those great tour players with quirky individual differences are generally "up and down" more frequently than the "robots" we frequently hear TV announcers blathering about.  "Pros" who dispute the roll of fundamentals or who only emphasize what happens in the contact zone should quit teaching!

GOTO The Sky Ball ... This is the most mind boggling shot in the game.  The fault has more than one daddy.  Fixing the problem requires a fundamental solution.  That means PRACTICE  Skying the ball is a direct indicator of a lack of fundamental skill.  The general cause is your eyes/head yo-yoing up and down.

The Topped Shot ... This is the most embarrassing shot in the game.  Powering a worm burner that does not get past the ladies tee invokes the Fort Worth rule ... if you don't know this rule, then it's best you never know.  Like the sky ball, a topped shot is an indicator that all fundamentals broke down on that particular shot.  The good news is it does not automatically indicate a fundamental lack of skill.

GOTO The Slice ... This is the most common swing fault in the game.  It is the natural mistake of beginning golfers and where most golfers begin their learning process.  Recreational players learn to cope with the problem and skilled players learn to use it for shotmaking.  The slice is NOT a mystery disease.  The cause and cure is well known, but it will take some dedicated, intelligent practice to fix the problem.

GOTO The Hook ... This is the most frustrating shot in the game.  This is the disease of better players.  When you hook the ball, you are typically doing more things right than wrong.  This close, but no cigar, "unfinished" skill is the source of the frustration.

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Copyright 1992  [CraftSmith Golf Enterprises].  All rights reserved.  Revised: February 15, 2016