Hello, my name is Rico and I am a shank-a-holic.  There, I’ve said it and I feel relieved.  Now, if you are one of those people who shudder at the mere mention of the ‘s-word’, please bear with me as I try to shed some needed light on my condition.

My addiction started five summers ago and, like most addictions, it began innocently enough.   The lie was perfect, center of the fairway, 115 yds. to a really easy pin placement.  This shot had ‘birdie’ written all over it.  My rhythm was smooth and I made solid contact.  But, somehow, the ball careened dead-right at about a 45 degree angle to the hole.  I had not shanked a shot in so long, that at first, I thought I may have hit a rock or small branch lying on the ground in order to cause the ball to end up where it did.  It didn’t take long, however, for my brain to piece everything together and to realize I had just hit the dreaded  hosel-rocket.  Oddly enough (or maybe not so), I don’t remember any thing else about that day – the weather, my score, my golf partners, nothing but that shot.

Weeks went by and I had not had a recurrence of the s-word.  It was completely out of my mind until the one round where a single shank turned into two within an 5 hole span.  Now, I was seriously concerned.  For some, addiction comes after years of abuse, but, for me it was swift and fully-blown.  Without going into all of the gory details, within the ensuing month, I was at the point where I was shanking nearly every short iron and the majority of my long irons.  It was not pretty and it was not much fun, either.

They say you can never really confront your addictions, until you reach the bottom.  Well, I reached the bottom when I walked off of a course on the 16th hole after shanking 18 straight irons.  While I hated doing this, at the time it seemed like it was the only thing left between myself and my golfing sanity.

Looking back on that day, it seems so long ago, but, I can still feel the angst as I made the slow walk to the parking lot.  But, I also can see it as the first step in my recovery.  The process was often two steps forward, one step back and there were days where I didn’t know if I had the mental fortitude to carry on, but, once you are a golfer, it is damn hard to completely move on.  I knew I couldn’t or wouldn’t give up.

The healing process revealed some interesting findings.  For example, doing an internet search back then yielded approximately 150,000 ways to cure a slice and almost all of them were different to at least some degree.  I think I stopped reading at about hit number 100.  I also found that most people you play with will have their own personal cure for the shanks and these, like the Internet results, are completely different.  My favorite ‘cure’ was a suggestion that the only way to cure that shanks was to give them to someone else.  God knows, I tried this on more than one occasion, but, sadly (at least for me and not some unsuspecting victim) this never worked.

The one thing I may have been most proud of on this journey was that, for the most part, I was able to keep my sense of humor about this.  I guess it’s that old situation where you don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.  I choose to laugh.  One day on the ‘back porch’ of the course that I play at I did an informal poll of some fellow club members and came to the conclusion that most people preferred ‘The Shankster of Love’ over ‘Sir Shanks-a-lot’ as a potential nickname.

So how did it end.  With a whimper, not a bang.  One day, I went to the course and they were gone.  Vanished.  Disappeared.  MIA.  Oh what a relief.  Now, years have gone by and from time to time, I’ll still send one dead right, but, they always seem to be a one time deal.  Maybe the gods do that to remind me to not get too cocky. And, you know what, I’m OK with that.  I have been to the bottom so anything near the top always seems good to me.