Military at AT&T Pebble Beach
0 6 mins 6 mths

Every now and then, seemingly from out of nowhere I experience socket rocket shanking shame. For those in the dark about this golfing condition par horrendous, it is when the golf ball goes hard right instead of straight ahead. Most usually encountered with a wedge in your hands this is as a result of the hosel hitting the ball. Obviously it is a  bad strike, as most of the face misses the golf ball. My old golf pro used to tell me that it was only millimetres away from being a perfect shot. Unfortunately, nearly is never good enough in golf; and he was probably just trying to help me feel better about the situation.

Golfer on the bridleway
Golfer on the bridleway by David Anstiss is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Shooting The Shank In Golf

Let me set the scene for you. You have hit a fine drive and you are in front of the green, some 90 yards or metres away from the flag in the middle of the fairway, and you grab your wedge in preparation for the next shot. You check out the wind velocity and direction by casting a few leaves in the air. You look down and carefully examine your ball’s lie. You assess the hole’s location on the green and process the data as to where you need to land your golf ball for best results. You address the ball and get ready to play the shot. You swing and the golf ball shoots hard right from you and straight into some nasty penalty area. This is socket rocket shanking shame.

woman wearing a white cap lying on the ground
Photo by cottonbro studio on

Shitting Yourself About Shanks & Socket Rockets

It descends upon you in ignominy like crapping your pants in public.

You are exposed in all your humiliation for all to see. Laughs are supressed or not within your four ball at the indignity of the situation. Rage can quickly follow on the heels of shame. The dreaded shank has paid you a visit like venereal disease at a nudist camp. You must trudge your way over to your now badly placed golf ball. Head hanging low and all dreams of birdie flown away. Disgust hovers above you like rain clouds. Anxiety looms because you could do it again, who knows when? A golfer out of control of his game.

Moments ago you were marching toward potential victory and now Edvard Munck’s The Scream is your screen saver.

man in black long sleeve shirt lying on gray couch
Photo by cottonbro studio on

Ok, you have regrouped and recovered. You finished your round and counted up that you had 3 shanks. You may have managed to save par but it cost you birdie chances. More importantly it unnerves you about your game and future rounds. It sucks some of the joy out of playing golf. Thankfully, there are teaching golf pros and instructional videos on YouTube specifically about dealing with shanking. It will take some time to heal the psychic wounds and get over the trauma. You will be tentative with your wedge shots for a while.

I think that part of becoming a solid golfer is learning to develop a thick skin, a durable hide. The Stoic Golfer takes it in his or her stride and knows that perfect is not a place you can live in.

man in white t shirt playing golf
Photo by Nathan Nedley on

Even Pros Do It!

You are not alone; however, socket rocket shanking shame is more common than you might think. Apparently, Webb Simpson says he has periods when he expects to maybe shank one shot per professional tournament round. It seems, we just have to learn to live with it. It will always hover around the edges of the golf game. In my experience it often rears its ugly head when we make changes to our swing. Obviously, it is most associated with taking the wedge back too much on the inside in the back swing too quickly. The best golf swing instructors emphasise keeping the arms in front of your torso at all time. This means turning your torso back with the arms and not letting things get behind you.

Don’t make an armsy swing when playing wedges in the pitch shot.

Things You Can Do To Prevent Shanks

  • Practice with a head cover on the outside of the golf ball at address.
  • Don’t take the club back on the inside in the back swing.
  • Keep your arms and torso moving back together.
  • Keep your arms in front of your chest back and through.
  • Watch what you are doing through the swing.
Remember it can take time to heal!