Golf Shank Secrets: Why it Happens & How to Fix It - USGolfTV (2022)

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

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

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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.

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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.

(Video) 3 Common Golf Bunker Shot Mistakes You Are Making (BUNKER TIPS)

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

How do I get rid of my golf shanks? ›

GOLF SHANK CURE - How to Stop Shanking the Golf Ball - YouTube

What is the main cause of a shank in golf? ›

A golf shank occurs when the ball hits the hosel of the golf club instead of the clubface. The golf ball striking the hosel causes the ball to violently shoot directly to the right (assuming you are a right-handed player). The ball will not travel very far forward but may go a great distance offline.

How do you fix a hosel 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.

What swing flaw causes a shank? ›

Because the ball darts right, most golfers think an open clubface causes the 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.

How do I stop shanking chip shots? ›

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

What causes a shank in golf when chipping? ›

Shanking is when you hit the ball on the inside of your club. More specifically, you catch the ball on the hosel, back towards the heel of the club face. When you do this, the ball shoots straight off to the right (for a right-handed golfer).

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. Here's what to check.

Why do I have the shanks? ›

Butch Harmon on How To Fix The Shanks | Golf Lessons | Golf Digest

Can a strong 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 I stop shanking my wedge shots? ›

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 stop hitting irons off the hosel? ›

Common Cause & Effect of the 'Hosel Rocket' - YouTube

Are the shanks mental? ›

On the one hand, the shanks are something mental, but you have to acknowledge that there is a physical component. The experience was shocking, sad, surreal, shattering my firmly held convictions. I felt like the skeptic who'd scoffed at hypnotism, only to wind up clucking like a chicken.

Why am I shanking my irons to the right? ›

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.

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 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.

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.

What are golf shanks? ›

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

Videos

1. The Ugly Truths About a Strong Golf Grip (GOLF TIPS)
(US GOLF TV)
2. How to Stop Standing Up in Your Golf Swing
(US GOLF TV)
3. How to Stop Chunking Your Irons (Golf Chunk Shot Fixes)
(US GOLF TV)
4. How to Chip Made Easy! (WHEN YOU DO THIS)
(US GOLF TV)
5. How to Control Golf Ball Flight Trajectory with Irons
(US GOLF TV)
6. How to Fix Early Extension Golf Swing
(US GOLF TV)

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