Golf Buzz

Seldom seen and spoken less, the S-H-A-N-K is the scariest shot in golf. A low missile screaming to the right of the target, the dreaded hosel rocket is ugly, unpredictable, inexplicable and known to infect even the best golfers in the world. Just last month, veteran tour player Brian Henninger was playing a fine round in frigid conditions on the opening day of the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Then he reached the par-3 seventh and shanked his tee shot into the water, leaving NBC Sports commentator Gary Koch no choice but to utter the forbidden word.
 
However, Henninger is hardly the first professional to send an iron shot sideways with thousands watching. 
 
 
U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson frequently hits shanks, including on the eighth tee at Medinah Country Club during his singles match in the 2012 Ryder Cup.  Jack Nicklaus was defending champion in the 1964 Masters, yet on the par-3 12th he shanked his tee shot over the heads of Augusta National co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. Going back to the days of the mashie niblick, J.H. Taylor won five Open Championships between 1894 and 1913 but still caught an occasional case of the shanks.  
 
Also known as “socketing,” the first written reference to a shank occurred in 1910, according to United States Golf Association historian Victoria Student, in the USGA Archives. It became part of the lexicon during the 1920s and 1930s, frequently appearing in the popular golf publications of that era, such as American Golfer and Golf Illustrated. Those reports range from educational to instructional to humorous, such as the tale from a practice round at the 1926 U.S. Open at Scioto Country Club in Ohio, where long-hitting Charles Hall of Birmingham, Ala., shanked a shot into a caddie’s mouth, injuring “only the boy’s dignity,” according to Golf Illustrated.
 
Over the years, we've been introduced to “Shankapotamus,” “Shank you very little” and other lighthearted terms and phrases to cast humor on a terrifying result. But it’s the unpredictability that makes the shot so befuddling and detrimental to a golfer’s confidence, as Anders Mattson, director of instruction at Saratoga National Golf Club in New York, explains.
 
“You could be going along just fine, hitting fairways, hitting greens, then suddenly a ball goes 45 degrees to the right and without notice, you suddenly feel like a 30 handicapper,” said Mattson, the 2014 and 2015 NENY PGA Section Teacher of the Year. “And, what’s worse is that you might believe you are a 30 handicapper!”
 
Many golfers misinterpret what causes a shank, Mattson said. Initial feedback leads them to believe the clubface was open when they hit the shot, but but Mattson challenges anyone to head to a driving range and intentionally try to shank a shot with an open clubface. 
 
“It’s nearly impossible and takes a great deal of hand-eye coordination to actually hit the ball poorly,” he said. 
 
Overanalyzing what produced the shot can actually do more harm than good. 
 
“So instead of swing adjustments, plane adjustments, clubface adjustments or path adjustments, we simply need to identify why the player missed the club face and hit the ball too close to the heel,” Mattson said.
 
Exposing the heel of the club to the ball too often can be the result of any number of swing or setup deficiencies. It’s common for a golfer to pull the next shot after a shank. But forgetting the shot – even laughing it off – and not allowing it to sidetrack a round or ruin your day is the best policy. 
 
“Try your best to accept the shot when it happens and treat it as an anomaly,” Mattson said.  “If the shot persists, you may have a pattern that causes you to hit the heel of the club too often, so make sure to check in with your golf coach and come up with a plan to help hit the ball in the middle of the clubface more often.” 
 
June 2, 2015 - 10:52am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
mini FootGolf
YouTube
With FootGolf becoming more and more popular, it seems it was only a matter of time before it also hit a mini golf course near you.

By now, you've surely heard of FootGolf.

Well, it turns out that "Mini FootGolf" might just be a thing too.

Check out this video from the folks at Skratch TV:

 

The video was posted to YouTube on May 28 by Adalberto "Borgetti" Lopez.

Impressive stuff, but I think I'd rather stick to the putter.

June 2, 2015 - 8:33am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Chris Kirk
Chad Coleman/Callaway Golf
It takes a lot of something to stand a few feet in front of Chris Kirk attempting to hit a backwards flop shot. But, Chad Coleman did just that and got this awesome snap.

Chad Coleman is the Social Media Manager for Callaway Golf (a fantastic follow on Twitter too, @HashtagChad). In his role, Coleman is often tasked with coming up with ideas for incredibly cool things.

From the vantage point of what you, the reader, are about to see, this has to be one of the coolest.

For Coleman, you would think it was more petrifying than anything else.

RELATED: Phil Mickelson hits backwards flop shot | Arizona St. golfer nails backwards shot

In the video below -- a Callaway ad shoot in Columbus, Ohio, site of this week's Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour -- recent Colonial winner Chris Kirk hits a backwards flop-shot.

What separates this particular video from others, however, is the fact that Coleman is just a few feet in front of Kirk, kneeling down with a camera above his head to capture the shot.

So was Coleman shaking in his sneakers? I mean what if Kirk thinned it? From that close, Coleman would likely be suffering serious consequences.

"To be perfectly honest, I wasn't really nervous at all," he told me. "This guy is so good that the chances of him hitting it thin are slim to none. I was more thinking about what an awesome photo I was going to get from it!"

And an awesome photo it was, as you can see at the top of this page.

Here's the video of the remarkable shot: 

 

Here's a video of me filming Chris Kirk hitting a backwards shot today at our ad shoot in Columbus. HOW?!?!

Posted by Chad Coleman on Monday, June 1, 2015

 

Nike Vapor Speed TW driver
Courtesy of Nike Golf
In addition to its eye-popping color scheme, the Nike Vapor Speed TW driver features a new Compression Channel that Tiger Woods helped to design.
 
Tiger Woods is back in action this week at the Memorial – and so is his driver.
 
Nike Golf is selling limited quantities of its Vapor Speed TW driver made to Woods' specifications, and they are available beginning today at Nike.com, and at select retailers beginning June 15.
 
"Stability has always been the most important thing to me when choosing a driver," said Woods, who put the driver in his bag at the Hero World Challenge in Decembrer. "I like the pear shape. It is appealing to my eye and it also has a slightly lower MOI (Moment of Inertia) that allows me to shape shots easier."
 
 
The Vapor Speed TW driver combines Nike’s FlyBeam-reinforced Covert Cavity Back design and a new Compression Channel in a smaller head – 420cc as opposed to a standard 460cc head. 
 
Woods' insights led Nike's design team to re-design the Compression Channel, which increases the spring-like effect off the mid-to-low portion of the face to increase overall distance. The cavity back design spreads weight toward the heel and toe to help stabilize the head at impact. This  redistribution of mass creates more stability, better launch conditions and faster ball speeds.
 
The Vapor Speed TW driver features a 10.75-degree loft and a Diamana Blue Board 73 shaft with a bonded hosel. It caries a retail price of $399.
 
Dustin Johnson
PGA Tour/YouTube
Dustin Johnson sets up for his chip shot on No. 3 Sunday at TPC Four Seasons.

Greens in regulation? Over-rated.

That is, if you have Dustin Johnson's short game skills.

Check out this "routine birdie" on the par-4 No. 3 in Sunday's final round of the AT&T Byron Nelson:

 

 

When Steven Bowditch missed his par putt, the two-shot swing created a two-way tie at the top of the leaderboard between Johnson and Bowditch.

Unfortunately, it all came apart for D.J. three holes later:

 

 

The quadruple bogey 8 knocked Johnson well down the standings.