I saw in the sports section of my local paper an item that said three golfers named Yip, Hack and Schenk were a threesome on the final day of some tournament. And I thought it was a joke.
In golf, we have this malady called “the yips.” If you have them, you are missing the shortest of putts, regularly. All the time. You have no clue why the ball will not go into the hole. It’s an awful feeling.
Definitionally, “the yips” is recognized in a broader sports sense. Famously, 25 years or so ago, second basemen for two MLB teams suffered the yips as their careers drew to a close. They’d catch a grounder and throw the ball over the first baseman’s head. Or into the ground. Or 10 feet to the right or left.
In golf we also have “the shanks.” To shank the ball means to hit it way right of the intended line if you’re right-handed; way left, if you’re a southpaw – in a weirdly curving fashion, and usually not very far.
The shot itself is the nounal definition, as in “I had three shanks on the front nine.”
Many golfers will not even say “the S-word.” Beaucoup articles have been written on how to cure the shanks, analyzing causation in great detail, etc. The word is also in volleyball glossaries, meaning a pass that goes in any direction other than that intended by the player.
Another golf term is “hack.” To hack at something, including a golf ball, is to take an ungraceful, usually ineffective, swing at it. Thus, you’ll find the term also in tennis and baseball.
Hack, in golf, is a triple-threat word: As a verb, it’s the player’s motion in trying to hit the ball. As a noun, it can be the resultant shot and/or the swing that produced the shot. As in:
“He’s just going to have to hack this one out, Phil.”
“That’s right, Jack. Ugh! What a hack that was.”
“After that hack, it’ll be tough to save bogey.”
Convinced that someone was playing tricks on my local sports journalists, I did a little research. And now I must introduce you to Ryan Yip, Adam Schenk and Jhared Hack. Pro golfers, all of them. I kid you not.
Schenk is from Indiana and is a 2014 graduate of Purdue. Hack hails from Florida, attended University of Central Florida and turned pro in 2008. Yip is from Canada.
And, yes, in late August, at the News Sentinel Open – played in Knoxville at Fox Den Country Club – after three rounds, each of them was 15 under par. They, therefore, found themselves paired as a threesome.
The event was won by J.J. Spaun, who rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to beat Sam Ryder. Rick Lamb came in third. Schenk tied for sixth, Yip tied for eighth and Hack tied for 11th.
Spaun, Ryder and Lamb. Sounds like a Philadelphia law firm. But it just doesn’t have the pizzazz of Schenk, Yip and Hack.