One of the worst shots in the game of golf is a shank.
Shanking the golf ball makes you feel as though your golf game is falling apart and that you really need to get off the golf course.
The problem with one shank is that it puts the idea in your mind that you may shank the ball again.
Therefore, the only way to fix a shank is to understand why it is happening and do whatever you can to stop it as soon as possible.
If you shank your golf irons, there is usually a very simple explanation, and the fix can take a matter of a few seconds.
Here are some of the reasons that you may be shanking your irons and the ways that you can fix them.
Why Do I Shank My Irons?
The reason you shank your irons is that you hit the ball on the hosel of the club.
However, the reason that the clubhead was delivered in this way could be any of a number of different issues.
Understanding what these issues are and which one has caused you to shank the ball is the only real way to start fixing a shank.
We can tell you from experience that the worst feeling is when you get stuck on the golf course, and you have no idea why you are shanking the ball.
When you understand the reasons behind these shots, you can work towards finding a cure much more quickly.
One shank in an eighteen-hole round of golf is not a big deal, but hitting three or four of them can be completely disappointing.
Shanking with a golf iron is something that you can learn to fix.
Let’s look at the reasons you may shank a golf ball and the ways that you can fix it.
1. Distance From The Golf Ball
We talk about this a lot, but the setup is the most critical part of your golf swing.
If you are not set up to hit a golf shot correctly, you don’t even need to swing it back.
Only when your stance, setup, and posture are perfect should you start to try and swing a golf club.
Many people feel that the only causes for a shank are related to the swing path.
Swing path is undoubtedly a cause, but it is not at all the only cause of a golf shank.
Many times, a golfer will shank a shot because of the distance to the golf ball.
When you set up, your hands should be a comfortable distance away from your legs.
You should feel as though you have room to swing the club without coming into contact with your leg or having to change the path of the swing at all.
Sometimes when a golfer swings, they will push the club out and away from themselves, and it can cause the club to get further away from the body.
When the club gets further away from the body, the hosel of the club will return to the ball at the impact position.
Instead of the center of the clubface lining up with the ball, it will be the hosel.
In the end, this results in a direct hit to the hosel and causes a pretty terrible shank.
For some reason, when you play with irons, this is much more common than when you play with a driver or woods.
Part of this has to do with how close you are to the ball when you first set up.
Another problem with the distance that you are from the golf ball is that sometimes golfers who reach for the ball at setup will also shank their shot.
When this happens, you will feel off balance and as if you were too far from the golf ball.
When you try and correct this mid-swing and make a diving motion towards the ball, it again lines the golf ball up with the hosel of the club on the iron.
The tricky thing here is that both standing too far and standing too close to the ball can actually end up causing a shank.
The fix for standing too far from the ball is to practice your setup on the golf course.
This is more of a feel thing than a pure mechanics issue.
Golfers need to learn what feels comfortable to them and work on ensuring that they can repeat a swing from these positions.
If you are struggling with how far you are from the ball, try to make it feel as natural as possible.
Your arms should not feel as though they are reaching way out towards the ball.
In addition, your arms should not feel too close to your leg.
Try and watch the golf swings of professionals and other great golfers and see what it is they do to get the golf ball in the right position each time.
It is also essential to play with golf clubs that fit you properly.
If your stance is compromised because of the way you have to reach for or line up with the ball, you are going to struggle to be consistent and avoid the shank.
2. Gripping The Golf Club Incorrectly
Your golf grip is the only connection that you have with the club.
If your grip is not in the right position, you can easily shank the ball.
Many great players will tell you that if you are struggling with your game, one of the first issues to look at is your grip.
If the grip is not correct, it could cause a large variety of issues.
When you shank a shot, go ahead and make sure that your grip is properly positioned on the club.
In addition, you must make sure that the grip pressure is not too light or too tight.
Grip pressure can be a hard thing to perfect because there is no perfect measurement of grip pressure.
You will want to ensure that you are not squeezing the club to death, but at the same time, you must also make sure you still have control over the golf club.
The best way to think about grip pressure is to think about where there should be some pressure.
Some pressure should be in the lower three fingers of your left hand.
If you feel pressure in your palms or anywhere in your right hand, that is probably causing the problem with the shank.
If a player grips the club too hard, the club can’t properly rotate, and you may leave it wide open at impact, causing the shank.
For those who are gripping the club too lightly, the club can actually turn and twist in the hands and therefore deliver the golf club to the impact position with the hosel coming in first.
Fundamentals of a great golf grip should be worked on quite often.
Don’t allow yourself to get lazy when it comes to your grip.
Instead, work on ensuring that the grip is consistent and strong each time.
Allow your hands to sit the way they should naturally, but also make sure that the natural fit for your hands is solid from a mechanics standpoint.
There are grip trainers on the market that can help ensure that your hands are in the right place.
Although you may have been in the game for a very long time, it does not mean that a refresher in gripping the club will be a waste of time.
Instead, ensure that the grip is perfect, and you will have a long career of very good golf shots in front of you.
3. The Swing Path
A swing path is one of the most common causes of a shank and one of the more difficult issues to fix.
For new players, the swing path can be hard to feel, imagine, and even see.
Essentially, your club is going to travel along a specific path the entire time you are swinging.
This path will change slightly based on the club you have in your hand and your ability to repeat a golf swing effectively.
The swing path that travels from an outside to an inside trail is one of the most likely causes of a shank.
When you set up to hit a golf shot, you are standing square to the target with a square golf club path ahead of you.
When you swing the club back, you will either take the club on a slightly inside or slightly outside path.
With the inside path, the club looks as though it wraps around a player a bit more.
The club will be loaded up behind the golfer from a very powerful area of the body.
With the outside swing path, you will notice the club is more upright, and it may even be further above the player’s head.
The club does not come as much around as it comes up and down.
The next part of the swing path is how the club comes into the impact position.
For those players who took the club slightly inside, they can now drop the club into place and swing out towards the target.
It is much easier to present a square club face to the golf ball when you are coming from the inside position than from more of an outside position.
For those golfers with the more upright or outside backswing, there is now some trouble for where the club needs to end up.
The obvious choice is to swing the club across the body and up to a high finish which creates the outside-in path.
The problem with the outside-in path is that most of the time, the club face has never had time to release, and therefore, the club is delivered to the ball hosel first.
The hosel-first golf shot ends up causing an instant shank.
Luckily, there are some ways that you can work on your golf swing path that will help you eliminate this problem in the future.
The easiest way to fix a shank with your golf irons that is caused by the swing path is to work on your takeaway.
Those first few inches of your swing when you take the club back are going to have a tremendous impact on the overall result of your golf shot.
If your takeaway is perfect and on the proper line, you will find that the rest of the golf swing is going to fall into place.
For those who start off badly, the rest of the swing becomes like playing catch up.
To avoid this, we highly recommend using alignment sticks, video, and maybe even the help of a golf professional to work on your takeaway.
You can come up with a pre-shot routine that allows you to practice the feel of that perfect takeaway before you even get the chance to swing.
Feeling that takeaway prior to taking the club back along a path is going to make it much easier to know what direction you should follow when it’s time to hit the ball.
We highly recommend working on the takeaway when you are practicing your short game as well.
Sometimes when you narrow things down to be mostly about the short game, it gets easier to focus on that so you can see exactly what is necessary for you to be able to hit the ball consistently.
4. Excessive Lower Body Movement
There are a lot of muscles involved in the golf swing, and it makes sense to ensure that they are all working together.
Sometimes when things get out of line, and the lower body movements are not on track, you will see golf shots start to happen that are not consistent, and they will often be very far off target.
Controlling the lower body movement is very important and ensuring that the legs do not get overly active can help to prevent these things from happening, but it will take a bit of time.
It’s one thing to try and use your lower body to get the ball headed towards the target with more power and control, but it’s another to get the legs too involved.
This type of a shank shot is often very easy to see.
You will notice that your knees are just pushing far ahead and leading the way for too much of the downswing.
This is not a great issue to have, but the good news is there are ways to fix this.
For many golfers, the fix for the overactive knees is going to vary.
However, one common way that golfers have been fixing this issue for years is to take a slight pause at the top of their swing.
Sometimes when you are at the top of your swing, the first tendency is to rush things down a bit.
This slight pause should do what is necessary to get the club to properly fall into place and make the proper motion towards the ball.
Timing and tempo are hard to work on, and it takes some practice at the driving range.
However, if you need to fix any type of overactive movement in your swing, this is without a doubt a great way to do it.
5. Mental Errors
It is true that a shank is caused by something physical.
You will have to make some kind of a physical mistake in your swing to shank a golf shot.
However, there are also mental reasons that can end up making the shanks even worse.
Sometimes when you shank a ball, you will start to get the idea in your head that you are going to continue to shank golf shots.
The more you shank, the worse it gets and the harder it is to get over this concept mentally.
This seems to be even worse for a player who does not have a good understanding of the game.
If you can’t figure out what is causing your shank and it just keeps happening over and over again, you are likely going to want to walk off the golf course.
Interestingly enough, when these types of shanks start getting to people, one of the best things to do is to walk off the golf course.
When you leave the golf course, you can ensure that your mind gets a rest, and you can start working on a physical fix for the shank the next day.
Even great players will sometimes find that a shank is going to sneak up on them from time to time.
Sometimes it just happens, and then it’s gone.
Other times, the mechanical issues causing the shank are going to take days or weeks to get rid of.
The bottom line is that you will not want to think about a shank any time you are on the golf course.
The more you focus on this concept and think about it, the harder it will be to overcome the issue and go back to hitting decent shots.
All golfers should have a positive mental attitude when they stand up to hit a golf ball.
If your mindset is not clear and you can’t visualize the shot you are trying to hit, don’t expect it to be a great one.
All of the best players will think about hitting shots that look good, feel good, and perform the way they intend them to.
Golfers on the PGA Tour are not going to stand over a golf ball and think about whether or not they are going to shank it.
Simply putting the concept in your head is a bad practice and one that you should eliminate immediately.
Don’t let the fear of hitting a shank end up causing you to shank the shot.
Shanks are rare as long as your fundamentals are good.
Try to focus on setup, stance, and grip, and you will likely see fewer shanks coming your way the next time you play the course.
When you have a plan to fix your shank, you will be able to move on from it rather quickly.
Golfers who don’t have a plan and can’t figure out how to stop the shanking motion are going to end up with a big mess on their hands.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to start working on understanding the fundamentals of the game of golf.
The more you understand how to play golf and the ways your shots are impacted by the moves you make in your swing, the better chance you have of shooting lower scores.
Make it your goal to know how to fix a shank with one quick setup change or movement, and you will be well on your way to being a great golfer.