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I got the shanks about five years ago.  It was strange and very disturbing that I couldn’t simply make and adjustment and get rid of them.  Never happened before.  I went to the range for three straight days and hit jumbo bucket after jumbo bucket of shanks.  Every shot.  I enlisted my pro, who gave me a tip.  One swing and the shanks were gone.  That tip?  Keep all 4 balls of your feet on the ground.  Did that really solve it physically or did it just give me something else to think about?

Last Thursday I told my buddy Marius that my swing was on the verge of a complete breakdown.  I could feel it slipping away from me.  The hole after I told Marius of my feeling of impending doom, it happened.  I shanked a pitching wedge.  Then I shanked or nearly shanked every shot for the rest of the round (10 more holes).

I took a break of four days and didn’t even think about picking up a club.  I have the biggest and most intense tournament of the year, the one I desperately want to play well in, coming up this Saturday and Sunday but I still felt no desire to pick up a club.  I didn’t want to do it until I’d cleared my mind.

So today I finally picked up a club.  First shot?  A shank.  2nd?  Shank…  At that point I started to try some of the drills I’d gotten from two PGA pro pals and from many friends, along with the 4 balls of my feet thing.

4 balls of my feet didn’t do it this time.  My buddy Dave told me my shoulders were aimed right of target and feet left.  Then he said I was thrusting my hips (sorry ladies) forward and having to compensate with a pull to hit the ball on line.  Thanks for telling me I’m golf’s version of a pretzel.  But some of what he said made sense and I tried to adjust.

I tried my PGA Pro pal from Arizona Scott’s suggestion, hitting 7-irons with my feet together.  I hit them solid and straight.  Hmmm.

I then tried hitting shots with my stance open about 30-40 degrees and the ball on my right toe.  Solid and on line with my intended target.

So I thought I’d reverse the last one.  I closed my stance to an insane amount.  I was basically standing with my left foot two feet farther forward than my right.  Solid shots right on line.

So at this point I found that I could hit solid shots online with insane stances and ball positions.  The only shot I couldn’t hit was with a standard setup.

BUT something happened in my swing with the open stance.  For some reason I felt something click in my takeaway with the insanely open stance and ball on my right foot.  The club fell into some sort of perfect position.  My right elbow wasn’t a granny chicken wing and my wrist cock felt right for the first time in about a month.

I just tried to remember that feeling and kept it in my mind.  I set up with my regular stance, pulled the trigger and felt the same takeaway.  The ball flew straight and didn’t feel like a near shank.  I looked at the clubface and the ball mark was in the center.

I had two swings as a result of today’s session.  I had my old swing back, with the new feeling takeaway.  And I had this crazy open stance punch something which I could almost never miss.

I played 18 holes, never made a putt under 10 feet (greens sucked) and shot 77 today.    I had 8 bogeys and one birdie.  NO doubles, no shanks.  No shots even came close to a shank.  I did however, start feeling a TON of pain in my left elbow.  The pain is an all too familiar pain, that of golfer’s elbow.  This is why I’m not a ball pounder.  My damn elbow can’t take it.

During today’s round I tried to pretend I was under pressure and that my confidence was shaken during a tournament.  I decided on the 11th tee that it was time to pull out my emergency “can’t miss” shot.  I pulled a 5-iron and opened the hell out of my stance.  I put the ball on my right toe.  I swung the club, made solid contact and threaded it right down the middle.

City amateur, BIG tournament this weekend

I don’t expect to win this weekend’s tournament.  I’m a 2 handicap in champ flight playing straight up gross against fearless -4 handi 20 year olds who can out drive me by 80 yards.  The “flat bellies” if you will.  Though my belly is flat these days…  There will be players shooting 66, 67 over the two days.  My lowest round EVER is a 68, two years ago, and I haven’t shot in the 60’s since.

I want to make a good showing and play well for my abilities and perhaps, finish IN the money for the first time ever in this event.

A report will follow.

2 responses to “Dealing with adversity and coming out with a better attitude. A.K.A. I shook the shanks.”

  1. tcovey says:

    Unbelievable, man. I’m fighting a nasty case of the shanks as well (although I’m hitting my driver better than ever). Nothing like spending $100 for the privilege of knocking balls of the hosel all weekend long.

    Since none of the manufacturers are on board with my center-shafted iron idea, I’m going to give this open stance thing a try. It certainly couldn’t hurt anything. Thanks for tips, and good luck in your tourny.

  2. I have a wedding in a couple of days. At the wedding will be my uncle and cousin and we always get pretty competitive on the course, which we will be playing two rounds. Well, I’ve been hitting the driving range fairly often, and about two weeks ago I develop the shanks. First time ever, and I was about to go insane. It was mainly with my pitching wedge and other wedges. Everything going straight right and slicing, I felt embarrassed on the range.

    What you mention about the 4 balls of your feet is what I ended up discovering myself. I had my weight too far forward on my toes and it really affected the swing path. I played a couple of times this weekend and didn’t shank one shot. I am pretty happy that I got rid of the shanks in time for the wedding in two days! Its an awful feeling to hit a full bucket of balls and not one of them goes straight.

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