The day I hit a golf shank

I was cruising and playing some of the best golf of my life. It was the 26th hole of a 36 hole competition – I shot two under in the morning round and was under the card for the afternoon. I knew I was leading when standing in the middle of the 8th fairway after another good drive. Then it happened. It came from nowhere. A shank!

And it wasn’t a half shank either. The ball went sideways, finding the middle of a clump of trees. I chipped out, pitched on the green and made a double bogey. Ouch! In an instant my confidence was shot and I had trouble hitting iron shots for the rest of the day. I was so worried about hitting another shot.

Don’t shank. Don’t shank. Don’t shank.

I was new to automatic golf and really hadn’t figured it out (to be fair, I was miles off). I was vulnerable and the remaining holes were tough as I fought the demons in my mind. When I reached the last hole I was exhausted but still somehow in contention. My last approach required an easy shot over a bunker to a generous pin – if I was any good I could have made a birdie to seal the win. Instead I chose the soft option, a chip and run, that took the bunker and any chance of a shank out of the equation. The ball went way past the hole and I somehow two-putted for par and managed to win by a shot. I got the job done but it was all pretty ugly.

To this day I’ve never really experienced any bad dose of the golf shanks. I’ve hit a couple but they’ve never really been an issue. And the point of this post really isn’t about the shanks, it’s on how to overcome bad shots.

Overcoming a bad shot

Poor golf can get us down and it’s easy to say, “get over it” or “stay positive”. Maybe you need to vent a little and let out some frustration. This is all ok. What’s important isn’t the fact that you hit a bad shot (they are always going to happen) but it’s how quickly you can move on. Automatic golf offers some sort of relief because you can lose the plot for a bit – but then get back to business with your next hit. And you do this by going through your routine and doing your very best to let go and swing freely.

The trick here is to focus on the present moment: Can you feel your swing? Can you hear the birds sing? Can you see the wind blow? Getting your mind into the moment doesn’t allow you to dwell on the past or get worried about the future. When you’re in the moment you are almost always most likely to swing with freedom – and when this happens, the chance of a really bad shot is greatly diminished.

If none of this works then maybe you can take comfort in the fact that the best golfers in the world can have all sorts of horror shots. They don’t have time to feel sorry for themselves, they have to get back on the wagon and keep trucking.

Bad golf is a certainty. How you deal with it is what matters. And physical aggression/frustration is ok for a bit. It’s how you manage the disappointment mentally.


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  • Lukey

    Reply Reply March 7, 2013

    I know it’s hard to do but as both Steady and yourself have said to me on many occasions and that is deal with it and then get on with it.
    Cheers Lukey

  • Michael M

    Reply Reply March 8, 2013

    Ah yes the old shank! A course I used to play at a few years ago had a par 5 dogleg right with the clubhouse on the right of the dogleg. I teed of once and the ball finished up on a mound on the left side of the fairway. The ball position for my next shot was below my feet and I shanked into the clubhouse…no broken windows, just embarrassment! The next time I played the hole I did the exact same thing and I became petrified of that hole!

  • cam280

    Reply Reply March 8, 2013

    Thanks Cam I’m not playing for a month now after watching Na na’s shocker!!!!!

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