What Causes A Shank In Golf And How To Fix It

Ever whacked a golf ball and it veered off sharply to the right? You, my friend, have shanked it.

A shank happens when the ball hits the hosel of your club instead of the sweet spot on the clubface.

It's usually because of issues like a poor address position, an unstable grip, an incorrect swing path, or a downswing slide.

To avoid sending your ball on these unfortunate detours, you'll need to pay attention to these key aspects of your swing.

But how exactly do you do that? Stick around as we delve deeper into understanding and fixing a shank in golf.

The Shank: A Golfer's Nightmare

“The Shank: A Golfer's Nightmare” might sound a bit dramatic, but any golfer who's experienced it will tell you, it's not an exaggeration.

A shank has the power to turn a dream round into a total nightmare in just a split second.

In this section, we'll dig into why that is and give you some real-life examples to illustrate the point.

The Implications of a Shank in Golf

In golf, precision is king. You can have all the power in the world, but if your shots aren't precise, you'll find yourself in a world of trouble. And that's exactly where a shank leads you.

A shank can drastically alter the course of your game.

When the ball hits the hosel and not the clubface, it careens off at a 45-degree angle, completely out of your intended path.

It's unpredictable, hard to control, and can land you in tough spots like bunkers, water hazards, or even out of bounds.

It's not just the physical implications that matter though, the mental impact of a shank can be devastating.

It can knock your confidence, leading to further mis-hits.

A shank can disrupt your rhythm, making it hard to regain composure and accuracy in subsequent shots.

It's like a ghost that haunts you throughout your round.

Examples of How a Shank Can Ruin a Great Round of Golf

Imagine you're having the round of your life.

You're on the back nine, your drive is on point, your short game is dialed in, and you're making putts left and right.

You're on track to beat your personal best and then bam! Out of nowhere, a shank happens.

For instance, you're on the par-3 17th, a beautiful island green.

You've selected the right club, envisioned your shot, and you're ready.

You swing, and to your horror, the ball rockets right, heading straight for the water.

That's a shank, and it has just cost you penalty strokes and a drop, ruining your fantastic round.

Or consider a less dramatic, but just as painful scenario.

You're on a par-5, your drive lands perfectly in the middle of the fairway.

You've got a clear shot to the green, and you're feeling good. But then your next shot is a shank.

The ball flies right, into the thick rough. Now, instead of a potential birdie, you're struggling to save par, or even bogey.

Understanding the Golf Club

Let's switch gears a bit and get to know your golf club better.

Understanding your equipment is vital in mastering the game and avoiding those pesky shanks.

In this part, we'll break down the anatomy of a golf club and particularly focus on the hosel – the birthplace of the dreaded shank.

Description of a Golf Club's Parts, Focusing on the Hosel

The main parts of a golf club are the grip, the shaft, and the head.

The grip is where you hold the club.

The shaft is the long, usually slender part that connects the grip to the head.

The head is where all the action happens; it's what hits the ball.

On the head of the club, you have the face, which ideally makes contact with the ball, and the back, which is everything not making contact with the ball.

There's also the top edge, called the crown, and the bottom, known as the sole.

And then, there's the hosel. The hosel is the part of the club head that connects to the shaft.

On many clubs, it's hollow, allowing the shaft to be inserted and secured.

On others, like some modern drivers, it's more of a conceptual spot where the shaft would connect on a traditional club.

On irons, the hosel is more prominent and visible.

Why the Ball Hitting the Hosel Causes a Shank

So why does hitting the ball with the hosel cause such a disaster? It's all about geometry and physics.

When you hit the ball on the clubface, the flat surface allows the ball to launch according to the club's loft and your swing path.

It's predictable and under your control, more or less.

However, when the ball strikes the hosel, a whole other set of laws come into play.

The rounded and angled surface of the hosel sends the ball off on a drastically different path, usually sharply to the right for right-handed golfers.

It's an outcome that is entirely unwanted and unexpected.

Also, the hosel of the club is closer to the player.

So, when a golfer hits the hosel, they're also likely swinging the club closer to their body than intended, which means they are off their ideal swing plane.

This swing plane deviation can be another reason for the ball's unwanted direction.

Common Causes of a Shank

It's time to face the foe head-on. Let's delve into the common causes behind the dreaded shank. Identifying these culprits is a key part of the battle.

You'll learn what to look out for, and with practice, you'll spot these errors in your setup or swing, helping you avoid the unsettling jolt of a shank.

  1. Poor Address Position

The address position, or the way you stand when you're ready to swing, is critical.

If you're too close to the ball or too far away, it throws off your swing mechanics.

Being too close can make you hit the ball with the hosel instead of the clubface, leading to a shank.

If you're too far, you might overreach and still hit the hosel, causing another shank.

Ensure you're the correct distance from the ball.

For most shots, when you're in your address position, the club should reach the ball just as your arms hang naturally down.

Different clubs will require different distances, so experiment with various clubs during practice.

  1. Unstable Grip

The way you grip your club plays a crucial role in the clubface's position at impact.

If your grip is too loose, it can cause the clubface to open or close at the moment of contact.

An open clubface can expose the hosel, causing a shank.

Take a moment before each shot to check your grip.

Ensure your hands are forming a stable “V” shape and aim for a firm but relaxed hold.

Don’t strangle your club, but don’t let it wobble around either.

  1. Swing Path

A good golf swing follows a specific path or plane.

If your swing is too far from the inside or too far over the top, the hosel of the club may come into contact with the ball instead of the clubface.

Essentially, you're swinging around your body too much, either from in-to-out or out-to-in, rather than straight back and straight through.

Working on your swing path can be challenging.

It's often helpful to get a coach or use training aids to ensure you're swinging on the right plane.

Remember, the club should feel like it's swooping in to hit the ball, not chopping down on it or scooping it up.

  1. Sliding into the Ball

When you make your downswing, your lower body should rotate, not slide towards the target.

If you slide, it can cause the clubface to close prematurely.

The hosel moves closer to the ball and may strike it, causing a shank.

To check if you're sliding, watch your knee and hip action in a mirror as you swing.

If they're moving sideways a lot, you're probably sliding.

Work on turning your hips and let the knees follow naturally. It should feel like you're coiling and uncoiling, not shifting left and right.

Identifying a Shank: The Diagnostic Process

So, you've learned about shanks, what causes them, and how they can wreck your game.

The next big step? Identifying them. Diagnosing a shank is like solving a mystery.

You need to find clues, gather evidence, and figure out what's going wrong.

Let's delve into this diagnostic process and learn how to detect a shank effectively.

The Importance of Diagnosing a Shank

Diagnosing a shank isn't just about knowing that you've hit one; it's about understanding why it happened.

Without a clear idea of what's causing your shank, you could keep repeating the same mistake.

That's a recipe for frustration and could lead to more shanks.

Identifying a shank involves looking at your swing from different angles and considering various factors.

Are you standing too close or too far from the ball? Is your grip too weak or too strong? Are you swinging on the right plane? Do you slide instead of turn during your downswing?

Correctly diagnosing a shank can help you fix the issue at its root, which is crucial for long-term improvement.

It might be a bit of work, but the payoff is more consistent golf and fewer shanks.

Instructions and Advice for Recording and Analyzing a Swing in Slow Motion

Recording your swing is one of the best ways to diagnose a shank.

With a video, you can watch your swing in slow motion, pausing and replaying as needed.

This method allows you to identify any issues with your setup, swing path, or downswing that might be causing shanks.

Here are some steps and tips for recording and analyzing your swing:

  1. Position the Camera Correctly: Place the camera at hand height and directly in line with your hands at address for a down-the-line view. For a face-on view, align it with your chest. These positions will give you the best perspectives to analyze your swing.
  2. Record the Swing: Have a friend record or use a tripod to keep the camera steady. Most smartphones have high-speed recording features that can capture your swing in slow motion.
  3. Analyze the Swing: Watch your swing several times. Look for issues in the setup, the backswing, the downswing, and the impact. Compare your swing with professional golfers or use swing analysis software if available.
  4. Look for Specifics: Focus on your distance from the ball at address, the strength and stability of your grip, the plane of your swing, and whether you're sliding into the ball.
  5. Get a Second Opinion: It can be helpful to have a golf professional review your video. They can spot issues you might miss and give you tips for improvement.

A Guide to Fixing a Shank

Once you've identified the culprit behind your shanks, it's time to get to work on fixing them.

This process can take time and patience, but with dedication and the right techniques, you'll see improvement.

So, let's roll up our sleeves and explore some concrete steps you can take to bid those shanks goodbye.

  1. Checking Address Position and Grip

Your journey to fix a shank starts before you even swing – at the address position.

Stand in front of a mirror and assume your stance.

The club should reach the ball just as your arms hang naturally down. Here are a few tips to ensure a proper address position:

  • Stand tall with your knees slightly flexed.
  • Let your arms hang naturally from your shoulders.
  • The middle of your clubface should be opposite to the ball.

Next, scrutinize your grip. A proper grip forms the basis for a good swing. Here's a quick checklist:

  • The club should be held more in the fingers, not the palm.
  • Your hands should form a “V” shape with the thumb and index fingers.
  • The “V”s on both hands should point towards your trailing shoulder.
  1. Adjusting Swing Path

The path your club takes during a swing is crucial.

A wrong path can easily lead to a shank. So, how do you correct this?

  • Visualize a proper swing path. Think of it as a tilted circle. Your club should stay on this circle throughout your swing.
  • Avoid the tendency to come “over the top.” Instead, the club should approach the ball from inside the target line.
  • Use training aids. Tools like alignment sticks can help you visualize and adhere to a good swing path.
  1. Techniques for Practicing Proper Swing

Repetition is the key to ingraining a good swing into your muscle memory. Here are a few exercises to help you practice:

  • Practice hitting the ball with the toe of the club. This exaggeration can help you avoid the hosel and ingrain the feeling of a correct swing path.
  • Use a hula hoop to understand the tilted circle swing path. Practice your swing slowly, ensuring the club follows the path of the hoop.
  • To prevent sliding, place a golf bag or other object next to your trailing leg. If you hit it during your swing, you're sliding.

Remember, shanks can be stubborn. If you keep shanking the ball, it might be helpful to take a lesson with a golf professional.

They can provide personalized advice and help you understand the changes you need to make.


In a nutshell, overcoming the dreaded golf shank involves understanding the problem, identifying the cause, and taking corrective actions.

While this journey might require patience and dedication, the rewards are worth it.

Armed with these insights, you're well-equipped to banish those shanks, boost your confidence, and truly enjoy the beautiful game of golf.

Remember, even the best stumble; it's all about getting back up and swinging better.

So, here's to fewer shanks and more stellar rounds on the green!