Shanks. There we said it. The dreaded golf word is now out in the open. Let’s talk about how to deal with it now. A shank in golf can be ridiculously funny if you are not the golfer who hit one. Imagine years and years of practice of hitting the golf ball with the sweet spot of the clubface and then you miss the clubface entirely. A shank once a while is a good motivation to work harder on your game. But when you get hit by a Curious Case of Shanks and it persists, you have to cure the shank.
A golfer who is returning to the game after a hiatus or injury or an amateur golfer may be prone to shanks. In this post, we get into the details of how to cure the golf shank. We’ll help you correct the dynamics of your golf swing and stance. Additionally, we also bring you some proven drills that will help you make corrections in already established swing fundamentals. We looked at the causes of a shank in some detail in a post here. Refer to these to understand the shank completely, then face the enemy prepared to defeat it.
What you will need to follow this tutorial
- Golf Club
- Golf Ball
- Smash Bag
Sounds obvious? Let us rephrase. We mean the right golf clubs for you. Every golfer has a certain swing, golfing capability, and swing speed. We did features on the best irons, best hybrids, the best drivers for beginners etc... Make sure you use the clubs that suit you best from the list.
Select the correct golf balls for yourself. These days, balls come packed with a variety of features with different specs. While beginners do well with low-compression Surlyn balls for more distance, we recommend high-compression Urethane balls for the pros who need more control over distance.
This is a slightly heavy bag that be placed near the target line to encourage a certain swing path. The Smash bag gets in the way of incorrect swing and gives you a nice corrective feedback so that you consciously change your swing path.
Step by step instructions
What is a shank?
A shank occurs when the hosel or the heel of the clubface makes contact with the ball instead of the sweet spot on the clubface. The ball hits the curved surface of the hosel and shoots off in a random direction. Usually, for a right-handed golfer, the ball runs off to the right side. It gets nowhere near the target and often ends up in a water hazard.
Here’s video of the Golf God Tiger Woods pulling a shank:
Listen for the hard ‘Ping’ sound from the hosel as the ball hits the metal pipe. The ball then flits off into a hard right. Given his swing speed, it just explodes out of the tee albeit in the wrong direction.
How to cure the S….Shank in golf?
Take a cue from Dumbledore’s I-won’t-call-Voldemort-You-Know-Who and start speaking the name: Shank. Now that we are bold enough, let tackle each cause of the shank head-on.
1. Why the shank: Too close to or too far from the ball
When you stand too close to the golf ball, you tend to elevate your spine in the downswing and end up hitting the ball open-faced. If you are too far from the ball, you will lean toward the ball during the impact and move the hosel in the path of the ball.
The video below shows up different scenarios of setup before the golf swing. Take the correct posture according to the video. Land the clubhead square behind the ball. Now lean the club backwards until it leans against your thigh. If the butt end of the club lands 1” above the knees, you are at the perfect distance. If you are too close, the butt end will rest farther up on your thigh.
2. Why the shank: Out-to-in swing path with face closing
In an effort to hit the ball straight, most golfers try an in-to-out path. But midway through it they realize that their swing path is too curved and try to compensate. In doing so, they inadvertently follow the out-to-in path. When you have an out-to-in swing path, the golf ball is hurtled to an arc to the right( for a left-handed golfer). This adds to the rotation of the closed face. The result? The ball is perfectly positioned for the Shank highway.
The cure is to change the swing path to be more square. Here, you need to place an item like a smash bag or a club head cover right outside the target line. Now if you swing out-to-in with a closed clubface, you will hit the smash bag/head cover. You will instinctively try to hit at a square arc to avoid the hurdle.
3. Why the shank: Open Clubface at Impact
Golfers tend to close the clubface when they reach the top of the swing and then open it to make it square as it reaches the impact. But if they misjudge and open the clubface too much, the hosel will hit the ball and bang! Shank city!
The cure is to focus on your right palm( for right-handed golfers). When you take the downswing the right palm should be facing the turf rather than the sky. This automatically makes the clubface square. So practice the golf swing deliberately without a golf ball. Turn the palms every time in the downswing so that it faces down.
Here’s a video demonstration of the drill to avoid a shank.
4. Why the shank: Changing spine angle during the swing
For a good swing, it’s important to maintain the spine angle throughout the swing. If you notice Rickie Fowler taking a swing, you will notice that his head stays on the same level all through the swing. His spine maintains the same angle throughout the swing.
Bill Schmedes details a very useful drill without any props for maintaining the spine angle and avoiding shank. This early extension drill prevents early rotation of hips in the downswing. This involves raising the left heel from the ground during the setup position. It remains raised through the backswing. You can plant the feet back on the ground during the downswing. This will help maintain the initial spine angle.
Here’s the video below:
5. Why the shank: Weak grip on the club
A hooked shot is caused by too strong a grip on the club. Whereas a shank can be caused by a very weak grip which causes the club to rotate in your claw. If it rotates hosel out, the ball may make contact with it and end in a shank.
In a weak grip, you can see 3-4 knuckles of the right hand and no knuckles of the left hand. Work on a neutral grip where you can see 1-2 knuckles each of the left and right hands. Your wrist doesn’t feel twisted either.
6. Why the shank: Weight transferred to the toes upon impact
Do you take golf advice by heart and shift all the weight on your toes upon impact? It is difficult to game as it is without you dancing on your toes. Putting too much weight on the toes makes you lean forward and connect the hosel to the ball. And there’s a shank for you.
Here’s a small drill to prevent the weight transfer to the toes:
Curl the toes of the right leg(for right-handed golfers) at the setup. This helps channel the weight sideways through the body rather than forwards on your toes. Take the entire golf swing with the toes curled up until the right foot pivots on the toes.
Here’s a video of the demonstration:
We are pushing to eliminate the embarrassment that comes with hitting a shank in golf. But it is a tactless shot and the initiative begins with helping golfers cure the shank. This tutorial explains the causes and the corrections of the shank. Understanding them will help you root them out completely from your golf habit. The most important areas to work with are:
- Your position relative to the ball
- Spine angle
- Swing path
- Weight balance during the impact
If this post helped you to shelf the shanks, let us know in the comments below. We have a library stacked with posts about all things golf. Let us know how we can help you better.