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.

(Video) GOLF SHANK CURE - How to Stop Shanking the Golf Ball

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.

Golf Shank Secrets: Why it Happens & How to Fix It - USGolfTV (3)

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?

(Video) What is a Shank: How to Cure the Nastiest Shot in Golf (Golf Shanks)

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.)

Golf Shank Secrets: Why it Happens & How to Fix It - USGolfTV (6)

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.

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

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.

Golf Shank Secrets: Why it Happens & How to Fix It - USGolfTV (7)

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.

(Video) How to Stop Standing Up in Your Golf Swing

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

What causes a golf shank shot? ›

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 I fix a golf shank shot? ›

The same direction as the club head so the handle and the club head move the same direction right so

What swing fault causes a shank? ›

Shanks can be caused by a multitude of swing faults. But the most common faults are moving closer to the ball (with your body, hands, or both) and lagging the hosel. Figuring out what's causing your shanks by recording your swing in slow motion is a good place to start.

How do you get rid of a shank? ›

All you have to do is take your head cover off your driver. Bring it over here and put it right next

Why am I shanking my irons all of a sudden? ›

Shanks usually come about due to striking the ball too close to the heel of the club, making contact with the hosel. If you stand too close to the ball at address, this can cause the club to come through on the outside of the golf ball, catching the hosel rather than the centre of the clubface.

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.

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.

Can 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.

Why do the shanks keep coming back? ›

It often comes when the clubface is too open on the backswing, which causes you to loop the club to the outside coming down—called swinging over the top. This re-routing can move the hosel closer to the ball, leading to a shank. It also can cause a shift onto your toes, another shank producer.

How do you never shank a golf ball again? ›

NEVER SHANK THE BALL AGAIN | Golf Lesson - YouTube

Why am I hitting 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.

What is the fastest way to fix a shank? ›

Focus on the inside of the ball

The easiest way to fix shanks mid-round is to focus on a blade of grass to the inside of the golf ball. With your next swing make sure the middle of the clubface hits that blade of grass. This exposes the middle (or even toe) of the clubface and divorces your swing from the hosel.

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).

How do you stop shanking wedges? ›

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

How do I stop shanking the golf ball with irons? ›

Stop Shanking Irons with One Simple Adjustment - YouTube

How do you not shank your irons? ›

How To Stop Shanking Irons
  1. Line up your club's neck/hosel up with the ball at address.
  2. During your downswing, try and make contact with the toe of the iron club.
  3. At impact keep your hands closer to your body.
  4. If you're hitting it near the toe, you have no chance of shanking since it is so far away from the hosel.
21 Jul 2022

What direction does a shank go? ›

Or, even worse, the golf ball misses the clubface entirely and solidly connects with the rounded hosel. And since the hosel is rounded, the ball can shoot off in just about any direction with various spins. But most commonly, a shank results in a ball that shoots out to the right (for a right-hander) at a severe angle.

Why do I shank? ›

WHY DO I SHANK THE GOLF BALL - YouTube

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 I know if I'm standing too close to the golf ball? ›

When you are standing too close to the ball, you will swing with a plane that is too upright. This can tend to cause more of a slice or even shanks. Getting the club on a good plane will help you start striking the ball much more nicely. You will hit the ball straighter and further with less effort.

How do you stop shanking chips and pitches? ›

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

Why am I shanking my short chip shots? ›

The simplest way to explain why you are shanking chips shots is that the clubhead has been moved closer towards the ball than were it started to be. This will cause the strike point on the clubhead to be on the hosel (learn what the hosel is here) of the wedge, and that is a shank.

Can Casting cause a shank? ›

Generally, when you cast the club, the club is being thrown away from the midline of the body on the downswing. This early release of the club can cause any number of shots, including the slice, the shank, the pull, the duck hook, the toe shot, the heel shot, etc.

What causes early extension? ›

For most, the cause of early extension is an inability to control their pelvic tilt due to a lack of mobility in the lumbar spine (lower back), weak core/glute muscles, and/or poor coordination.

How do I stop early extending? ›

A common drill used by our GOLF Top 100 Teachers to prevent early extension is to make swings with your rear end against a wall. Keep your rear against the wall as you swing and you'll feel what it's like to stay in your posture and not extend early.

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

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.

Why am I hitting 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 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.

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.

Why do the shanks keep coming back? ›

It often comes when the clubface is too open on the backswing, which causes you to loop the club to the outside coming down—called swinging over the top. This re-routing can move the hosel closer to the ball, leading to a shank. It also can cause a shift onto your toes, another shank producer.

How do you get a shank out of your head? ›

FIX YOUR SHANK!!! Stop the shanks for good - 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

Can Casting cause a shank? ›

Generally, when you cast the club, the club is being thrown away from the midline of the body on the downswing. This early release of the club can cause any number of shots, including the slice, the shank, the pull, the duck hook, the toe shot, the heel shot, etc.

What causes early extension? ›

For most, the cause of early extension is an inability to control their pelvic tilt due to a lack of mobility in the lumbar spine (lower back), weak core/glute muscles, and/or poor coordination.

How do you get rid of an early extension in golf? ›

How to Fix Early Extension Golf Swing - YouTube

Why do good players Shank? ›

One of the main reasons for the “shank” is the player swings excessively steep and downward into the golf ball. This means that from the top of the swing, the club shaft gets very vertical coming down, and there is nowhere to go but down on top of the ball, usually with the hosel of the golf club.

How do you stop shanking wedges? ›

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

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