The "S" Word
There is apparently a disease going around, because I’ve received three separate emails about that dreaded “hosel rocket”, “sidewinder” that we call the “sh**k“ (I can’t even say it or write it – that’s just bad karma). The emails were somewhat different, but all were looking for a way to avoid that most ugly of all uglies, the demon that can sneak in anytime and the one shot – even more than a yanked 2-footer – that can demoralize you in the middle of a round.
If you break it down, this shot outcome is caused by the clubhead getting outside the intended path, so that contact with the ball is made so far toward the heel of the club that the hosel makes contact with the ball, sending it screaming off at a 45-degree angle to the intended line of flight. Let’s start with a little history.
Back in my “old days” as a high schooler, the blades we played had a much longer hosel than we see now, and a center of mass very much toward the heel of the club. Solid iron shots were hit much closer to the hosel as that is where the sweet spot was. So, when you got about ½” outside the swing path, that hosel came into play and you “sh**ked” it. The weird thing was that those shots were almost always a visual surprise, because they felt very dang close to perfect. I always thought a shot that ugly shouldn’t feel that solid.
But now, we engineer all our clubs to have the “sweet spot” in the dead center of the face, maybe even toward the toe a bit. The “sh**k” is not nearly as common as it once was, but just as nasty when you hit one. So, let’s get into it.
The only way you can hit the ball so that the hosel makes contact, is to get the clubhead on a path toward the ball that is outside where it should be. The first cause of this happens in your set up. We tend to “get closer to our work” when we put wedges and short irons in our hands, crowding the ball at set up, so that we are pre-ordaining this outcome. I like to “manage” ball position at set-up by allowing my left arm to hang naturally from the shoulder and make sure that it does not move toward me to take hold of the golf club. If the left arm is crowded toward your body, it has nowhere to go on the downswing but outward, moving the face to a point where the hosel is the likely contact point. If you battle the “sh**k” occasionally, the first thing to do is check your posture and set up position.
Since the cause of this shot outcome is that the clubhead is coming into the ball from outside the intended path, you can make that happen in two ways. The first is to engage your hands to early, getting over the top and forcing the clubhead outside the intended path. The other way is to move your body core away from its center established at address, so that you completely change the axis of rotation of the swing. If you move the center hub, the perimeter of the swing moves, too.
So, to build a solid short game technique and eliminate the “sh**ks”, work on that relaxed address position, then a simple one-piece swing with the wedges and short irons, with the body core rotating, but not moving out of its center. I like to conjure up images of Steve Stricker’s swing on my wedge shots. He’s the model for a simple swing with few moving parts.
I hope that makes sense – sometimes these are harder to convey without pictures or video. Keep sending those inquiries in. We’ll be giving away our first set of SCOR4161s at the end of July.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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