On the third hole of my round on Monday, my playing partner got the shanks.
I’d just met Tim—we were paired as walk-ons—but I’m certain that shanking is not his usual game. His first drive was a beauty, flying for two hundred fifty yards right down the middle. He hit an iron close and birdied. On the second, he missed the green, but got up and down for par.
Then off the third tee, Tim popped his drive straight up and right. For a moment, I was worried that he wouldn’t carry the women’s tee. Playing his second from just in front of the red markers, Tim took a mighty swing with a fairway wood—and the ball shot dead right into the woods.
He found the ball and managed to chip out. His next shot—with an iron—headed right back into the woods. After several minutes of looking, he declared it lost and dropped a new ball in the middle of the fairway.
I didn’t blame him. Sometimes you’ve just got to hit the reset button.
After much preparation and several practice swings, Tim took played another shot. Barely clearing the grass, the ball shot about fifty yards forward at a forty five degree angle to his line—right back toward the woods.
My goodness, I thought. He’s got the shanks.
I couldn’t watch. I didn’t want to watch. Shanks are the worst shots in golf, and I’m sure they’re communicable. If I watched any more, that swing would ingrain itself into my brain, and I would subconsciously start imitating it.
So as he continued to flail away toward the hole, I busied myself with my laser rangefinder, checking the distances to various trees along the fairway.
Hmm. Fifty yards to that one. Wow. Seventy yards to that one over there. Twenty yards difference. Who’d have thought it.
Tim in the meantime had lost another ball in the woods and was cursing a blue streak.
Forty five yards to the rock. Interesting.
Finally, he passed my ball and I hit my second. It was off-line, but not a shank. Thank heavens.
The rest of the round was a struggle for Tim. He’d hit a couple of good shots and then shank one. His wedges around the green were the worse; he finally gave up and started chipping with a putting motion
A couple of times, Tim asked me what I thought he was doing wrong. I lied and said I had no idea. In the first place, I have a strict policy of not giving advice on the course. And in the second, I really didn’t want to speak the word shank.
No sense calling in the demon by speaking its name.