For any golf professional, one of the toughest lessons to give is to someone who is shanking the ball. It is one of the most embarrassing shots to hit because it can come out of nowhere, and you are not sure why it happened.

What is a shank? A shank is a shot that hits the hosel, a socket in the head of a golf club into which the shaft is inserted, rather than the clubface. The result is a shot that goes a 45-degree angle from the target.

What are some causes of a shank? One cause is an outside-in swing path over the top of the ball. Shanks can also be caused by a too inside-out swing. Both these swings introduce the hosel to the ball at impact.

Below are some things you can do to eliminate the shank from your golf game.

  • Lighten your grip. Too much tension in your hands causes you to not be able to “release” the clubface at impact.
  • At address, your weight needs to be balanced over the balls of your feet. You don’t want your weight to be on your heels or toes at address.
  • Keep your hands the same distance from your body the entire swing. You need to be approximately a “fist and thumb” from the bottom of the grip to the zipper on your pants.
  • Weight shift is critical to get rid of the shanks. Most shanks occur when you shift your weight forward toward the ball on the forward swing instead of shifting your weight rotationally toward the target. Remember that the ball is not the target.
  • A good way to prevent a shank is to make sure that your right palm is facing down for right-handers at impact.

Drills to help prevent the shank:

If your shank is caused by a swing path error, put a headcover along the outside edge of the target line about one inch outside the ball, and hit shots without hitting the headcover.

You can also use a shoebox standing up and avoid hitting the box on the forward swing. Start with small swings with a wedge, and increase swing length as you gain confidence and skill.

Line drill – put two balls about 12 inches apart forming an imaginary line in front of you. Take practice swings between the two balls, like kicking a field goal between them. Make contact in front of the two balls without hitting either one.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional at Sun City Hilton Head.;