The golf shank will come as a complete shock, occurring completely out of nowhere. You can be playing perfectly well with no hint of what’s about to happen on your next shot, then suddenly you are left dumbfounded questioning all parts of your game. Some golfers call the shank the worst shot in golf because in one instant you can lose total confidence in your golf swing. It can demoralise a player and cause panic for the rest of the round. They are left cringing and embarrassed at executing a truly awful golf shot, desperately seeking a cure as quickly as possible.
In a nutshell the shank is a golfing nightmare, but fortunately the tips and instruction below will enable you to quickly and easily cure your shanking. You will also learn what causes this dreadful mis-hit and how to stop your shanks with several different drills listed below.
What Is A Shank?
A player suffers from a shank when the ball hits the hosel (neck) or socket of the golf club instead of on the club face. The hosel is the part of the club where the club face meets the shaft.
The ball will typically fly sideways to the right (for a right handed golfer) at a 45 degree angle. This is because of the rounded surface of the hosel. Sometimes the angle that the ball flies off at can be even more acute. Not surprisingly this can be disastrous as the ball often flies into a bunker, deep rough, or even worst out of bounds. Normally a shank will be followed with another one in the course of a round and perhaps like you are experiencing now, a player takes it upon themselves to research why they are shanking and how it can be cured.
What Causes A Shank?
A shank happens when the player moves the club head further away from their body on the downswing in comparison to how they set up at address. Generally this happens when they are hitting short irons or chipping, because there is less time to correct the swing and the hosel is larger on the pitching and sand wedges than on the other irons. At the same time the open club face accentuates the chances of the ball being hit with the hosel.
In order to fix this problem it is important to understand the major reasons for hitting a shank. Once you can define the exact reasons for your own shank, you will be in a better position to cure it.
1. Shifting your weight forward
A shank will occur if during your downswing you shift your weight from your heels to your toes. As your weight moves forward you will begin to lean forward. As this happens the club head will move out from the body about an inch and a half. This forward movement means the hosel is now positioned where you intended the centre of the club face to be. Thus the result is a shank as the ball is hit with the hosel.
2. Standing too close to the ball
You may find that you are standing too close to the ball, resulting in a steep swing arc because of the difficulty one has in turning their shoulders from a position like this. This isn’t the perfect setup and you will naturally try to correct it, but in doing so your club head will move away from your desired swing path. The taller you stand the more tendency you will have to throw the club further out and away from your body. On your downswing your arms will move away from your body and thus the club head moves off the correct swing path. Again inadvertently you will find yourself striking the ball with the hosel and not the centre of the club face.
3. Swinging outside to inside
You will be prone to occasionally shank if you have outside to inside swing. This is particularly true if you are too tense and try to hit the ball too hard. Ideally a golfer should always swing inside their target line until the moment of impact, but unfortunately for the vast amount of golfers this simply doesn’t happen. When a player comes over the top they swing on an outside to in path pulling their arms across their chest and further away from the body. Likewise with the previous two causes a shank occurs due to the position of the club head in relationship to the ball.
4. Excessive body turn
When the body rotates too much, you can create a situation where the arms aren’t able to catch up. This also results in a player having an open clubface at impact where by the hosel is more likely to make contact with the ball than any other part of the club head.
5. Hands in front of the ball
If you have your hands in front of the ball at address there is a tendency to fan open the club face on your upswing. Consequently on the return it will go too far out in front as you come back down. Typically you do not have enough time to rotate your wrists in time to prevent hitting the ball with the hosel.
6. Sitting back in your stance
Are you sitting back in your stance? This can also cause a shank. By this I mean are you leaning back too much on your heels. If you set yourself up in this position you will naturally counter balance it and move your weight forward towards your toes on your downswing. In doing so you will involuntarily move your club face further away from your body, thus increasing the chances of hitting the ball with the hosel and not the club face. This particularly happens with the short irons where you can easily bend forward and as a result you will fall forward on your downswing.
How To Cure Your Shank
The following instructional tips explain several different ways to cure your shank. They will give you the confidence to succeed and start to play good golf again. Naturally you will feel less anxiety and stress once you know you have addressed the main reasons why you are shanking and have worked on aspects of your game to fix this swing fault.
1. Stay balanced
Before you swing make sure you check your posture and maintain the feel of your weight in the centre of your feet. Stay balanced without sitting too far back or the opposite of leaning forward too much.
2. Make room
Don’t be cramped when swinging, there is no reason to limit the space you have to swing in. Always check the distance between your zipper and your club grip, it should be about one hand span. Your arms need to hang away from you, not dropping directly down.
Relax your grip and remove some tension. Sometimes you try to hit the ball hard and this can lead to an outside to inside swing. Always remember to check your divots to see if you are coming from the inside, or from the outside chopping across it.
4. Hit off the toe of the club
One quick tip to cure your shank during a round is to align the ball more towards the toe of your club. If you are finding that you have a tendency for the club face to swing through more away from your body then a quick fix is to deliberately hit the ball with the toe of the club.
Drills To Cure Your Shank
Once you have highlighted a particular cure for your shanks it is important to work on drills that further ingrain the correct swing fundamentals. By applying these drills you will minimise the chances of a shank happening again.
1. Hit shanks shots on purpose
As strange as this may seem by knowing and feeling how to recreate a shank the less likely you are you play one on the course. You become acutely aware of your own swing characteristics and weaknesses that may open you up to a shank if you aren’t mindful to regularly check your posture and takeaway.
2. Place a ball under each toe
By placing a ball under each toe you effectively put yourself into a position where you aren’t reaching for the ball. Hitting shots like this will get you used to the feeling of not falling forward in your downswing.
3. Place a basket next to your ball
On the range place a basket or club head cover next to the outside of the ball. The aim is then not to hit the basket as you make your swing. If you find you are hitting part of the basket you should study the various reasons for a shank above and determine what you are most likely doing wrong. You can also set up a row of tees as an alternative, if you are playing off grass.
4. Take a closed stance
Set up to the ball and then move the foot furthest from the target back a foot, as if you were going to move forward. This stance encourages an inside to outside swing and limits excessive body movement. This way you can practice rotating your hands and releasing the club head properly, without leaving it open at impact and increasing the risk of the hosel catching the ball before the club face.
5. Place a towel under your arms
Place a towel under your arms to maintain a controlled swing where your arms will feel connected to your body. This prevents your arms from getting pushed out and away on your downswing.