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Clement: The Be-All and End-All Cure For Shanks

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I am sure you have seen a lot of videos on solid ball contact and the shanks. This one is different for sure, and it includes elements that are essential and have, by and large, been neglected in the past.

See how a couple of easy analogies, combined with a key setup component, will get you singing a much happier tune on the golf course.

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Shawn Clement is the Director of the Richmond Hill Golf Learning Centre and a class A PGA teaching professional. Shawn Clement was a 2011 and 2015 Ontario PGA Teacher of the Year nominee and was also voted in the top 10 (tied with Martin Hall at No. 9) as most sought after teacher on the internet with 65 K subscribers on YouTube and 29 millions hits.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Skip

    Sep 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    this guy is such a hack.

    • Old Gaffer

      Sep 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      Shawn is a great instructor and a blessing for this forum.

  2. Old Gaffer

    Sep 14, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    You certainly like to use ‘imagery’, like the football, for teaching. You include effective verbal and great demonstration modes too.
    My understanding is that ‘shanking’ is also due to inadequate ‘supination’ of the lead forearm and hand through final release and impact.
    I suppose there are other causes but when the club heel leads into the ball to me that means the closure rate is delayed, or, the ball is in the wrong position for solid impact.
    Your thoughts and thanks for your informative videos.

    • Dan Jones, PGA

      Sep 15, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      Old Gaffer – Inadequate supination actually just sets the golfer up for a slice because it does not change the relationship between the hosel and the ball. In order to shank, the hosel must be forced forward into the path of the ball somehow, or the ball forced into the path of the hosel. Supination, or lack of supination, cannot be the cause of a shank, except for rare instances of extreme supination of the forward arm (or pronation of the trailing arm, so I actually prefer to call it forearm rotation). If forearm rotation is extreme and shuts the face down, then in rare instances the angle may be enough to vector the ball off the club face and into the hosel.

      Instead we have to look at the cause of the hosel moving outward as it goes through impact, because these are the forces that actually cause a shank. In videos of my students during the process of a shank, I typically see one of two things. The swing center changes slightly outward, or the arms extend farther out than they were at set-up. Usually the cause is the former, and it is because the student doesn’t have good balance from heel to toe, and they put too much weight on their toes during the swing, thereby changing the swing center and putting the hosel into a path where it can impact the ball. Believe it or not, I have seen some of the most experienced teachers in the world not understand the physics of a shank. I don’t know why that is, but it is true. I won’t mention any names, but one of the top 5 in the world blames it on an over the top swing – outside in swing in one of his videos. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in fact an extreme inside out swing is much more likely to cause a shank because it puts the club face into an extreme closed position that once again can deflect and vector a ball into the hosel. Bottom line is this, somehow the hosel must move into the path of the ball during impact, forearm rotation, or lack of, does not do this.

      Hope that helps.

      • BB

        Sep 16, 2017 at 8:41 pm

        Great analysis of the ‘shank’ and the solution.

        • Old Gaffer

          Sep 16, 2017 at 8:43 pm

          Dan Jones, PGA:– It did help somewhat and I have learned more about the mechanics of the shank from your reply. Btw, when anybody uses the word “vector” or “physics”, I suspect I’m communicating with another engineer!
          – As I understand it from you, a shank can be (1) the face staying open and the hosel directly hitting the ball, and, more likely, (2) the face closing and then the ball is struck by the hosel or the ball is vectored off the club face into the hosel…. which sounds really ugly!
          – I suspected lack of lead arm supination plus losing my swing center towards my toes. I’m tall and my clubs are extended 1” and 2º upright so my Center of Pressure can wander. My ball shank direction was outwards, and occasionally inwards when I overcompensated for perceived lack of supination.
          – In my opinion, shank golfers are coming out of their hip rotation too quickly and go erect by extending their hip joints open. This changes the swing center and balance, and the arm will naturally extend up and out due to momentum conservation changes in reaction to the altered swing center.
          – I see this on others, and I have solved my shank problem long ago by controlling my CofP for balance, and also the position of club butt in final release going into impact, for parametric acceleration.
          – I believe shanking golfers resolve their problem by hitting on the toe, to avoid hosel impact. Perhaps that’s why club companies add mass to their SGI club designs in an attempt to design out common swing faults. The best solution is not at the club head; it’s with proper technical instruction backed up by swing instrument data.
          – I appreciate your detailed response based on your teaching experience. Thanks again.

        • Old Gaffer

          Sep 16, 2017 at 11:45 pm

          t did help a lot and I have learned more about the mechanics of the shank from your reply. Btw, when anybody uses the word “vector” or “physics”, I suspect I’m communicating with another engineer!
          – As I understand it from you, a shank can be (1) the face staying open and the hosel directly hitting the ball, and, more likely, (2) the face closing and then the ball is struck by the hosel or the ball is vectored off the club face into the hosel…. which sounds really ugly!
          – I suspected lack of lead arm supination plus losing my swing center towards my toes. I’m tall and my clubs are extended 1” and 2º upright so my Center of Pressure can wander. My ball shank direction was outwards, and occasionally inwards when I overcompensated for perceived lack of supination.
          – In my opinion, shank golfers are coming out of their hip rotation too quickly and go erect by extending their hip joints open. This changes the swing center and balance, and the arm will naturally extend up and out due to momentum conservation changes in reaction to the altered swing center.
          – I see this on others, and I have solved my shank problem long ago by controlling my CofP for balance, and also the position of club butt in final release going into impact, for parametric acceleration.
          – I believe shanking golfers resolve their problem by hitting on the toe, to avoid hosel impact. Perhaps that’s why club companies add mass to their SGI club designs in an attempt to design out common swing faults. The best solution is not at the club head; it’s with proper technical instruction backed up by swing instrument data.
          – I appreciate your detailed response based on your teaching experience. Thanks again.

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Instruction

How the Trail Arm Should Work In Backswing

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Stop getting stuck! In this video, I demonstrate a great drill to help you move your trail arm correctly in the backswing.

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Self-discovery: Why golf lessons aren’t helping you improve

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Of all the things I teach or have taught in golf, I think this is the most important: It’s not what we cover in a lesson, it’s what you discover. 

Some years ago, I had a student in golf school for a few days. She was topping every single shot. Zero were airborne. I explained that she was opening her body and moving forward before her arms and club were coming down. “Late” we call it. I had her feel like her arms were coming down first and her body was staying behind, a common correction for late tops. Bingo! Every ball went up into the air. She was ecstatic.

Some time later, she called and said she was topping every shot. She scheduled a lesson. She topped every shot. I asked her why she was topping the ball. “I think I’m picking up my head,” she said to my look of utter disbelief!

I had another student who was shanking the ball. At least 3 out of 5 came off the hosel with his wedges. I explained that his golf club was pointed seriously left at the top of his backswing. It was positioned well OUTSIDE his hands, which caused it to come down too wide and swing OUTSIDE his hands into impact. This is a really common cause of shanking. We were able to get the club more down the line at the top and come down a bit narrower and more inside the ball. No shanks… not a one!  He called me sometime later. The shanks had returned. You get the rest. When I asked what was causing him to shank, he told me “I get too quick.”

If you are hitting the golf ball better during a golf lesson, you have proven to yourself that you CAN do it. But what comes after the lesson is out of a teacher’s hands. It’s as simple as that. I cannot control what you do after you leave my lesson tee. Now, if you are NOT hitting the ball better during a lesson or don’t understand why you’re not hitting it better, I will take the blame. And…you do not have to compensate me for my time. That is the extent to which I’ll go to display my commitment and accept my responsibility. What we as teachers ask is the same level of commitment from the learners.

Improving at golf is a two-way street. My way is making the correct diagnosis and offering you a personalized correction, possibly several of them. Pick the ONE that works for you. What is your way on the street? Well, here are a few thoughts on that:

  • If you are taking a lesson at 10 a.m. with a tee time at 11 a.m. and you’re playing a $20 Nassau with your buddies, you pretty much wasted your time and money.
  • If the only time you hit balls is to warm up for your round, you have to be realistic about your results.
  • If you are expecting 250-yard drives with an 85 mph club head speed, well… let’s get real.
  • If you “fake it” during a lesson, you’re not going to realize any lasting improvement. When the teacher asks if you understand or can feel what’s being explained and you say yes when in fact you DO NOT understand, you’re giving misleading feedback and hurting only yourself. Speak up!

Here’s a piece of advise I have NEVER seen fail. If you don’t get it during the lesson, there is no chance you’ll get it later. It’s not enough to just hit it better; you have to fully understand WHY you hit it better. Or if you miss, WHY you missed.

I have a rule I follow when conducting a golf lesson. After I explain the diagnosis and offer the correction, I’ll usually get some better results. So I continue to offer that advice swing after swing. But at some point in the lesson, I say NOTHING. Typically, before long the old ball flight returns and I wait– THREE SWINGS. If the student was a slicer and slices THREE IN A ROW, then it’s time for me to step in again. I have to allow for self discovery at some point. You have to wean yourself off my guidance and internalize the corrections. You have to FEEL IT.

When you can say, “If the ball did this then I know I did that” you are likely getting it. There is always an individual cause and effect you need to understand in order to go off by yourself and continue self improvement. If you hit a better shot but do not know why, please tell your teacher. What did I do? That way you’re playing to learn, not simply learning to play.

A golf lesson is a guidance, not an hour of how to do this or that. The teacher is trying to get you to discover what YOU need to feel to get more desirable outcomes. If all you’re getting out of it is “how,” you are not likely to stay “fixed.” Remember this: It’s not what we cover in the lesson; it’s what you discover!

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Instruction

Jumping for Distance (Part 2): The One-Foot Jump

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In Part 1, I wrote about how I think this concept of jumping up with both feet for more power may have come about in part due to misinterpretation of still photography and force plate data, self-propagation, and a possible case of correlation vs causation. I also covered reasoning why these players are often airborne, and that can be from flawed setups that include overly wide stances and/or lead foot positions that are too closed at setup or a re-planted lead foot that ends up too closed during the downswing.

In Part 2, let’s look at what I feel is a better alternative, the one foot jump. To me, it’s safer, it doesn’t complicate ball striking as much, and it can still generate huge amounts of vertical ground force.

First, set up with an appropriate stance width. I like to determine how wide to stand based on the length of your lower legs. If you go to your finish position and stand on your lead leg and let your trail leg dangle down so your knees are parallel, your lower trail leg should extend only as far back as it will go while being up on the tip of your trail toe. If you roll that trail foot back down to the ground, viola, you’ll have a stance width that’s wide enough to be “athletic” and stable but not so wide you lose balance when swinging. You can go a little wider than this, but not much.

To contrast, the stance below would be too wide.

Jumping off the ground can be caused by too wide of a stance and lead foot position that is too closed at setup

Second, make sure your lead foot is open sufficiently at address. I’ve previously outlined how to do both these first two points in this article.

Third, whether you shift your weight to your trail foot or keep a more centered weight type feeling in the backswing, when you shift your weight to your lead foot, be careful of the Bubba replant, and then push up with that lead leg to push your lead shoulder up. This is the one-foot “jump” and it will take advantage of parametric acceleration (read more about that here).

But also at the same time, shift your lower spine towards the target.

From a face-on viewpoint, this can look like back bend, but in 3D space it’s side bend. It kind of feels like you are crunching the trail side of your mid-section, or maybe just bending over to the side to pick up a suitcase, for example. This move helps lower your trail shoulder, which brings down the club (whereas this is more difficult to do if you try to two-foot jump with your trail leg). It also helps you to keep from getting airborne off your lead foot. Further it doesn’t change your low point (by not changing the relative position of the C7 vertebrae in its general orb in space) and complicate ball striking like a two-foot jump does.

At this point, the club releases and you can stand up out of the shot (you don’t need to transition in to any sort of dangerous back bend) in balance on your lead foot having generates tons of vertical ground force without having jumped off the ground or putting yourself at risk for injury.

“Movember” mustache… not required!

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