What is a golf shank?
A shank in golf is when a golfer hits the ball with the hosel, the point where the clubhead attaches to the shaft instead of the clubface, causing the ball to fly off at a sharp angle to the right for a right-handed golfer.
These poor shots can be caused by several factors, including poor technique, using a club that is not suited to the shot, or poor grip on the club. Also, players feeling anxiety or tension can create enough tension within themselves to produce a shank.
In this guide to stopping the shank, we’ll offer a deeper look into what causes a shank in golf and golf shank fix — what you need to do to get your shots back on your target line.
Finding the Right Grip
For tour pros like Ian Poulter and long time coaches like David Leadbetter, the golf shank begins with a poor grip approach. Strengthening the grip and developing a repeatable swing path with every golf club in the bag can eliminate golf shanks.
Even when we are playing great, a golf shank can come out of nowhere. If you are on the course and your game suddenly falls apart, chances are your grip, specifically the left hand, has become loose.
If you are having trouble with your grip, finding a coach to help you with your game can pull you out of a hole where you feel helpless in hitting more shanks.
Work on Hand Placement at Impact
Shanking the ball comes from high hands that move the club down and toward the golf ball. This movement brings the hosel into the impact zone by increasing the angle of the iron, forcing the face outside the ball when you are hoping to strike the middle of the clubface.
Some amateurs believe that shanking comes from starting the club too high in the backswing forcing a steep attack angle on the downswing to the golf ball. While that could certainly produce a nasty slice, it won’t shank the ball.
Take time to film your swing if you are struggling with hitting a nasty golf shank. By examining where your hands are as you hit the shot, chances are you can correct the flaw fairly quickly.
Creating a Natural, Athletic Stance
Another problem area when it comes to hitting a golf shank comes from a body that’s out of sync before the ball hits the clubface.
That inefficiency could come in the form of standing closer to the ball at address, creating that forward momentum with the feet lifting the heel that forces the iron to the outside.
By forcing the sweet spot outside, balls have nothing to hit other than the hosel creating the shot we’re all hoping to avoid on the golf course, the golf shank.
For some instructors, getting the weight on the toes moves the player closer to the impact spot, creating a perfect environment for hitting a golf shank. You want your feet to feel balanced at address, with weight over the midsole and not over the heel.
Building an Inside-Out Club Path
Creating an inside-out swinging path can help reduce the number of golf shanks you hit and help you build the fundamental approach that can produce a draw and improve your overall game.
First, on the takeaway you want your heel to stay on the ground. Shanks come from too much movement in the lower half of the body, so staying balanced as the iron goes back helps you keep steady in your preparation to hit your shot.
You also want to ensure that you are turning away from the impact area completely. By getting behind where you will strike the shot, you can fully bring the clubface from inside the downswing.
At the top of the backswing, you want your lead arm fully extended and not broken down. Having your arms toward the body makes you feel a natural reaction to overextending on the downswing. That flaw can produce a wicked case of the shanks.
As we return the clubface to impact, watch where your hands are in relation to address. They should be relatively similar when compared. If you have trouble getting your iron to the inside, take time on the practice range to look at your swing in slow motion.
By setting up a video recorder that can help you watch your backswing and downswing, you can build a better approach than when you hit a golf shank.
There are easy drills that most golfers can use to prevent shanks, but this one might be the easiest out of all of them.
First, just take a box and place it just outside the toe of the face at address. Since we know that a shank moves the hosel toward the ball at impact, the box offers a mental and visual barrier that forces us to approach the ball from the inside when hitting shots.
Since we want to come inside-out with our swing path to avoid hitting shanks, the box produces that inside-out downswing very efficiently.
With enough practice, your swing will feel that change, you’ll keep the hosel away from the ball, and this great drill ultimately becomes a long term fix for correcting your poor fundamental approach to the ball.
Finding a Pre-Shot Routine
One of the biggest reasons why players hit golf shanks is mental approach. When we don’t feel comfortable over the ball, our entire swing can fall apart causing an ugly golf shank.
Every great golfer from Tiger Woods to Ian Poulter has a battle-tested preshot routine that locks in their lower body, relaxes their upper body, and focuses their mind on hitting the perfect shot for the situation in front of them.
One of the best pre-shot routines for amateurs struggling with golf shanks is relatively simple to achieve with very little time needed to become a regular habit on the links.
After you’ve chosen the club based on the shot’s distance, here’s a quick 4-step process to getting your mind ready for the shot.
1. Stand behind the ball and visualize the shot. Take into account wind or anything you need to avoid such as water or a bunker.
2. Move next to the ball and take any practice swings or half swings you may need to feel the shot.
3. Approach the ball, placing your back foot first, then looking back along the target line with your body open to the target.
4. Place your lead foot in position, grip the club, and look down the target line once more. Keep everything slightly moving, from your toes to your fingers, to avoid getting stiff. Keep your arms loose and make sure you are completely comfortable.
5. Find a specific spot on the ball to focus your attention and to keep your head still. At this point, the club path and swinging process should take care of itself. Make sure to follow through with the club and finish in balance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cause of a shank in golf?
There are many causes of a shank in the game of golf. For all golfers, shanks happen. No matter the handicap or skill level, along the way the golf swing breaks down for everyone and the golf ball can clank off the hosel.
For many golfers, the placement of the hands at address and impact is the root cause of the shank. For a right handed player to shank the golf ball, the clubface has to move forward, moving closer to the ball at impact compared to its placement at address.
How do I stop shanking in golf?
One of the easiest methods to stop shanking the ball is to slow everything down and work on a fundamental approach to addressing the ball, taking the iron back smoothly, and producing an inside-out path to striking the ball.
Shanks can come with a poor mental approach, an easily correctable flaw that can be corrected with time on the practice range working on different methods to hitting each shot, especially when it comes to the short game.
By finding drills when it comes to correcting a golf shank, you can also better understand your swing, helping your correct the mistakes.
What is the difference between a shank and a slice in golf?
A shank typically comes from hitting the ball off the club’s hosel, creating a line drive golf shot that goes off at an extreme angle, far from the intended spot where the player hopes the ball will land.
A slice has a more gradual curve away from a straight line caused by poor swing fundamentals and a steep approach as they hit balls.
Is a shank close to a good shot?
No, a shank isn’t close to a good shot. While these unfortunate results happen to even the best golfers at some point in their career, they can make the correction quickly, while amateurs struggle to find their rhythm to hit the ball cleanly.
Most shanks come from the hosel, otherwise known as a “hosel rocket,” but you can also hit one of these bad shots with the toe of the club face as well.