Golf Shank Secrets: Why it Happens & How to Fix It - USGolfTV (2023)

By Todd Kolb

May 22, 2020

The golf shank may be the most dreaded shot in the game. You think you’ve got a good shot lined up, then the ball flies low and to the right. Now you’re off course, you’re irritated, and you just wasted stroke.

So what can you do? What causes the golf shank, and how can you avoid it on your next round?

Here are some quick tips for fixing this nightmare of a golf shot.

What is a Golf Shank?

First, let’s clarify what we’re talking about when we talk about the shank.

A shank occurs when you hit the ball off the hosel. The hosel is the socket connecting the shaft of your golf club to the clubhead.

Here is a classic example of a shanked chip shot:

Golf Shank Secrets: Why it Happens & How to Fix It - USGolfTV (1)

When you hit the golf ball off the hosel, the ball travels super low and far to the right, assuming you’re right-handed. If you’re left-handed, the ball veers to the left.

To put it another way, a golf shank is the quickest way to turn one of the most popular sports into a frustrating pastime.

Golf Slice vs. Shank

Some golfers confuse slices and shanks for understandable reasons. Both shots are aggravating, and both hinder your game with a right-ward ball flight. (Again, that’s if you’re right-handed.)

The difference is that a slice is generally caused by delivering an open club face at impact. A slice happens as a result of the orientation of the club face, not the point of contact. You can still hit the ball in the sweet spot (or off the toe) and hit a slice.

Golf Shank Secrets: Why it Happens & How to Fix It - USGolfTV (2)

Now, this difference can be hard to feel. Fortunately, you can tell whether you’ve sliced it or shanked it just by observing your ball flight.

  • A golf shank travels low and directly to the right.
  • A slice gets up in the air and curves to the right.

For now, I’m going to share golf swing tips for overcoming the golf shank only. But don’t worry. If you also need help with your slice, we have plenty of material for you.

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Causes of Golf Shanks

Now that you understand what a shank is and can pinpoint the difference between a slice vs. shank, let’s dig into why this problem happens to begin with.

What exactly causes a shank shot?

Well, that depends on who’s shanking it and what type of shot they’re making.

Why High Handicappers Shank the Golf Ball

Nine times out of ten, when a high handicapper shanks the golf ball, it’s because they’re “swinging too far out to in.”

What does that mean? Well, we are talking about swing path.

Think of what happens in the transition of your golf swing. As you bring your arms back down from the top of your swing, how do they move?

Golf Shank Secrets: Why it Happens & How to Fix It - USGolfTV (4)

Do your arms travel out and across, rising above the swing plane of your backswing?

Most high handicappers have a habit of doing exactly that. They bring their arms too far out in the transition. This in turn exposes the heel and hosel to the ball at impact, causing the shank.

Why Low Handicappers Shank the Golf Ball

Interestingly, low handicappers also face the dreaded golf shank. Even touring professionals hit hosel rockets from time to time.

So what happens there?

Believe it or not, low handicappers typically have the opposite problem compared to high handicappers. In this case, skilled golfers have a swing path that brings the club head down too far from the inside . . . another swing motion that accidentally exposes the heel.

Golf Shank Secrets: Why it Happens & How to Fix It - USGolfTV (5)

Why You Keep Shanking Chip Shots

Now, if you keep shanking your chip shots, you may be dealing with a different issue than the two I just mentioned. When it comes to chipping, you should look for the cause of your shank in one of these two places:

  1. Your Setup: Are your hands too far forward when you take your setup? Positioning your hands too far towards the target causes the club face to naturally rotate to the right (if you’re right-handed). This is what we call an open club face. And when you open the face, you bring the heel closer to the ball.
  2. Your Golf Swing Motion: Do you drag the club inside, closer to your body on your backstroke? If you do, you’re setting yourself up to expose the heel as you swing through. The better approach is to swing straight back and straight through.

(Side note: If you could use a little more help with your chipping, I recommend checking out the new Short Game System.)

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How to Stop the Shanks in Golf

So how do you correct these bad habits?

There are a few tricks you can use to warm up before a round and make adjustments during the game. I’ll also share some drills to help get proper form into your body.

First, let’s take a look at how you can master the swing plane problem that’s holding you back.

The Anti-Shank Warmup for All Levels

Whether you’re a high handicapper or a low handicapper, prep for your next round with this simple exercise.

Stand with your arms straight out to the side. They should be in line with your shoulders, palms up.

  1. Take your proper golf posture.
  2. Rotate back as you would on your golf swing.
  3. Rotate forward as though you are swinging through.

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Your arms should remain on a neutral plane on the backswing and downswing.

But if you’re a high handicapper, you may notice that you naturally shift to bring your arms out and across, rising above the swing plane you established on your backswing.

If you’re a low handicapper, you may notice that your arms want to travel in and under on the downswing.

This exercise reveals where your bad habits are and helps you make corrections before your round.

Golf Shank Secrets: Why it Happens & How to Fix It - USGolfTV (8)

Tips for Stopping the Shank on Chip Shots

You probably already worked this one out for yourself. But as a quick reminder, when you take your chip shots, you want to work on establishing these two habits:

  1. Check your hands at setup. Make sure they’re not too far forward towards the target.
  2. Be sure to swing straight back and straight through.

Now for some drills to get these changes into your body.

Drills to Prevent Golf Shanks

Next time you’re at the driving range or practicing your garage, take a little extra time to run a shank drill. Choose whichever one (or ones) best applies to your golf game.

High Handicapper Drill

I call this one the TV Drill. You’re going to want a 6 or 7 iron for this one.

  1. Take your regular golf stance.
  2. Close your stance by shifting your trail foot farther back than your lead foot.
  3. Take your backswing.
  4. As you swing forward, be mindful of the handle. You want the handle to travel down, then up and to the right, ultimately rotating so your lead palm faces up.

When you think about directing the handle in this way, you force yourself out of that habit of swinging to the outside.

Low Handicapper Drill

If you’re a stronger golfer who still can’t escape the dreaded golf shank, try this drill. Again, use a 6 or 7 iron.

  1. Take your regular golf stance.
  2. Open your stance by shifting your lead foot farther back than your trail foot.
  3. Take your backswing.
  4. As you swing forward, be mindful of your lead shoulder and the wall behind you. (If there is no wall, imagine one.) You want the lead shoulder to stay low and work back towards the wall.

This adjustment helps you get back on the correct swing plane so you can center your contact with the golf ball.

Chip Shot Drill

Now, here’s a drill I love for eliminating the golf shank in your chip shot. For this one, you need two tees and an alignment rod.

  1. Lay the alignment rod on the ground alongside your golf ball. The rod should point at the flag or target.
  2. Put a tee at each end of the alignment rod.
  3. Remove the rod. You should now have an imaginary straight line between those two tees with your ball at the center.
  4. Set up your shot. Make sure your shaft is in a neutral position and your hands are not too far forward.
  5. Swing straight back and through, careful to make sure your clubhead passes over both the back and front tee evenly.

This is one of the simplest golf lessons for both checking your chipping motion and getting the feel of proper swing form in your body.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

These may seem like simple tips, but they address the vast majority of problems I see in golfers who struggle with the shank. Whether you are a casual amateur golfer or play for a living, hitting a shank happens to all of us at some point. But if you make these adjustments and run these drills regularly, I can almost guarantee you’ll see fewer shanks in your game.

Now I want to hear what you think. Has this advice been helpful? Do you have any questions? Any tips of your own you’d like to share? Join us in the comments!

For more in-depth golf tips, visit us at GreatGolfTipsNow.com. This golf instruction is completely free and packed with detailed advice to help you play better golf!

FAQs

Why does a shank happen in golf? ›

The shank happens because the clubface is closed and the toe of the club hits into the ground producing a long, skinny divot. Again, the shank happens because the club is dramatically shut at impact NOT open. It's hard for most golfers to imagine the ball going that far right with a closed face.

How do you overcome a golf shank? ›

Said get the heavy. End get the head end over the grip end so the club feels light if it's way back

Why am I hitting everything off the hosel? ›

1) You could be standing too close to start with. If you are crowding it it will be difficult to NOT hit the hosel. Try reaching for the ball a bit and see if it helps. 2) You might be either starting with your weight to much on your toes or getting on your toes during the swing.

Why have I started shanking the ball? ›

The main cause of shanking the golf ball is a strike that is too far out of the heel of the club, close to the hosel. This generally comes about because your set up is too close to the ball, or you tip forward towards the ball during the swing.

Can a strong grip cause a shank? ›

Here are some of the major causes of the dreaded shank: A grip that is too tight and too much in the palm of the left hand.

Can standing too close to the ball cause a shank? ›

Standing too close to the golf ball will result in a posture that's too upright, which could result in inconsistent shots and no control over the ball. Standing too close to the ball can result in slices and shanks, which are very common among average players.

How do you never shank a golf ball again? ›

NEVER SHANK THE BALL AGAIN | Golf Lesson - YouTube

What swing path causes a shank? ›

But shanks usually come from an excessively closed face. The player swings out to in with the face closing hard -- both actions push the hosel closer to the ball (top). If the hosel catches the ball, it's shank city.

Why do I keep shanking my irons? ›

(@MoggAcademy): Shanks usually happen when you move closer to the ball during your downswing. It's that simple. By shifting forward, you change the contact point on your iron from the center to the heel.

How do I stop shanking chip shots? ›

2 Reasons Why You Shank Your Chip Shots (Golf Shanks) - YouTube

How do I stop shanking pitch shots? ›

STOP SHANKING YOUR PITCH SHOTS - YouTube

How do I stop hitting the ball off the hosel? ›

Make sure you address the ball with your weight evenly on the balls of your feet. Make sure that you stay relaxed with no tension in your arms and hands. Your fear of hitting the ball off the hosel or shanking it may actually have a lot to do with this problem.

What causes a shank with a wedge? ›

This is usually caused from a lack of upper body rotation. To fix it, try this simple drill: Place a towel across your chest under both arms. Using a wedge, make half swings focusing on using your chest to swing the club. The towel should stay under your arms from start to finish.

How do I hit the sweet spot on my irons? ›

Hold your iron with the face open and drop a ball onto it, you will recognize the sweet spot when it springs off the face, this is the point where the metal is set to have its optimal flex and responsiveness. Usually, the sweet-spot is located in the center of the club sometimes slightly to the heel.

Does early extension cause shanks? ›

Early extension can certainly cause shanks. When you early extend, you thrust your pelvis towards the ball, often dropping the club way under the swing plane. This severe in-to-out club path may cause the hosel to make contact with the ball first, rather than the club face, resulting in a shank.

Can a poor grip cause a shank? ›

The weakness inherent in this grip can cause the clubface to remain open at impact, again leading to the dreaded shank. To fix the problem, strengthen your grip position by turning your left hand more to the right (as the photo shows).

How do you stop a shank on a wedge? ›

Stop shanking your Wedges! This simple foolproof swing thought will ...

Can you shank a fairway wood? ›

Fairway woods (which are available from the 3 to the 25-wood, to replace irons or wedges) offer the best solution. Their design puts the entire face forward of the shaft and hosel, for shank-proof golf shots.

Why can't I stop shanking the ball? ›

More often than not, a shank occurs when a player's weight gets too far onto the toes, causing a lean forward. Instead of the center of the clubface striking the ball—as you intended at address—the hosel makes contact with your Titleist, and—cover your ears and guard your soul—a shank occurs.

What happens if ball is too far forward in stance? ›

The forward ball position shifts the shoulders open to the target, which leads to an out-to-in swing and usually a slice. Standing too far from the ball pulls the upper body downward, leading to a compensating stand-up move through impact, another common cause of the slice.

How do you fix shanks with an iron? ›

Stop Shanking Irons with One Simple Adjustment - YouTube

How do I regain my confidence in golf? ›

Ten Tips to Build Confidence For Golf
  1. Don't be Self Critical. ...
  2. Don't Give Yourself Technical Feedback on the Golf Course. ...
  3. Visualize and Feel. ...
  4. Develop a Strong Shot Routine. ...
  5. React Indifferently to Bad Shots. ...
  6. Take Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone. ...
  7. Change Your Goals. ...
  8. Focus On What You Did Well.
15 May 2014

How do you stop an over the top iron? ›

To stop coming over-the-top, you need to work on shallowing the golf club in the downswing. This involves developing a more relaxed, tensionless feeling at the top of the backswing. Using alignment sticks to direct club path can also offer real-time feedback as to whether your action is, in fact, over-the-top.

How do you hit a golf ball out of the deep rough? ›

HOW TO HIT A GOLF BALL OUT OF THICK ROUGH: 3 EASY TIPS!

Why am I shanking my golf shot? ›

Golfers must have their weight evenly distributed in their feet during a swing. If a golfer is leaning too far forward with their weight on their toes, they risk messing up their swing and shanking. Not only that, but they run the risk of physical injury as well.

Can swaying cause a shank? ›

Does swaying cause shanks? Yes. A shank can also be caused by swaying in your lower body during the downswing. This happens during your swing when you get out of sync with your shoulder turn, usually when you're trying to smash the golf ball.

Why am I Skulling my chip shots? ›

When people skull their chips, it's from the breaking down of the left wrist, which causes the club head to beat your hands at impact, which causes you to hit the ball on the upswing.

Why do I blade my chip shots? ›

Three reasons you BLADE your CHIPS! - YouTube

Why do my chips go left? ›

Either you are aimed to the left or your swing path is going left. With either of these cases, sometimes you would notice a cut spin on the ball because you are actually swinging left of the target line, but your clubface is square to your target and target line so it's open to the path on which you are swinging.

Is a shank close to a good shot? ›

The shank on the other hand - sometimes slightly fancifully described as the closest miss to a perfect shot - is very much a true golfer's miss, with the club coming back into the ball just a smidgen outside the ideal horizontal line.

Why am I topping my wedges? ›

Typically, a ball is topped because the club has not gone far enough down towards the ball or you catch the ball on the way up, instead of at the bottom point. A lot of things can cause this to happen: A club that's too short. An awkward stance.

How do you hit your irons pure every time? ›

Butch Harmon explains that you hit your irons pure when you connect the ball on your downswing and avoid scooping it up off the floor. In other words, you strike the ball before the clubhead touches the ground. That results in your low point occurring after impact.

How do you hit a golf ball in the same spot every time? ›

How to Hit the Sweet Spot EVERYTIME in Golf - YouTube

How do you hit the center of the clubface every time? ›

How to STRIKE golf shots from the centre of the club face EVERY TIME

What swing path causes a shank? ›

But shanks usually come from an excessively closed face. The player swings out to in with the face closing hard -- both actions push the hosel closer to the ball (top). If the hosel catches the ball, it's shank city.

What causes shanks with wedges? ›

This is usually caused from a lack of upper body rotation. To fix it, try this simple drill: Place a towel across your chest under both arms. Using a wedge, make half swings focusing on using your chest to swing the club. The towel should stay under your arms from start to finish.

Can weak grip cause shanks? ›

The weakness inherent in this grip can cause the clubface to remain open at impact, again leading to the dreaded shank. To fix the problem, strengthen your grip position by turning your left hand more to the right (as the photo shows).

What is the shank of a golf club? ›

Golf Shanks - What Are Shanks and What Causes Them? - YouTube

Can standing too close to the ball cause a shank? ›

Standing too close to the golf ball will result in a posture that's too upright, which could result in inconsistent shots and no control over the ball. Standing too close to the ball can result in slices and shanks, which are very common among average players.

How do you never shank a golf ball again? ›

NEVER SHANK THE BALL AGAIN | Golf Lesson - YouTube

How do I stop shanking my irons? ›

Stop Shanking Irons with One Simple Adjustment - YouTube

How do I stop shanking my wedge shots? ›

Stop shanking your Wedges! This simple foolproof swing ... - YouTube

How do you stop shanking chips and pitches? ›

2 Reasons Why You Shank Your Chip Shots (Golf Shanks) - YouTube

How do I get rid of chipping shanks? ›

How to Eliminate the Chipping and Pitching Shanks - YouTube

How do I stop hitting the hosel? ›

But the ball doesn't hit the heel—it hits the hosel, and its round shape makes the ball carom violently to the right. The easiest fix is to stand farther away from the ball at address. But for long-lasting results, be sure to keep your weight over the middle of your feet, which stops you from moving toward the ball.

Why do I occasionally shank my irons? ›

Having your hands in the correct position as well as standing the correct length away from the ball can prevent shanks. If done wrong, it can lead to shanks. When your hands get further away at impact than they were at address, a shank will likely be the result.

Can good golfers get the shanks? ›

Even Tour players hit the occasional shank. The key is understanding why you shanked so you can prevent one from happening again. And to do that, you need to understand that there are two ways that golfers hit the infamous hosel rocket, each with their own causes.

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