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What is a Shank: Comprehensive Guide to Avoiding Shanks

What is a Shank in Golf - golf ball in fairway image

Table of Contents

Understanding the Basics

Golf is a sport filled with its own unique terminology, and one term that strikes fear into the hearts of many golfers is the “shank.” But what exactly is a shank in golf? Understanding this dreaded mishit can help golfers avoid it and improve their game. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into what a shank is, why it happens, how to prevent it, and what you can do if you start shanking the ball.

Definition of a Shank

Golfer hitting a shank shot on the fairway with the golf ball veering sharply to the right.

A shank in golf occurs when the ball is struck by the hosel (the part of the club where the shaft connects to the clubhead) rather than the clubface. This results in a shot that veers sharply to the right for a right-handed golfer (or to the left for a left-handed golfer). The shank is often referred to as “the golfer’s nightmare” because it can be unpredictable and difficult to correct.

Causes of a Shank

Understanding why shanks happen is crucial to preventing them. Here are some common causes:

Poor Alignment

Incorrect alignment can lead to a shank. If you’re standing too close to the ball or your body is out of sync with your swing path, you’re more likely to hit the ball with the hosel.

Grip and Setup Issues

A weak or overly strong grip can affect the angle of your clubface at impact. Similarly, improper setup, such as standing too far from or too close to the ball, can increase the risk of shanking.

Swing Path Problems

An outside-to-inside swing path, where the club approaches the ball from the outside and cuts across it, can cause the hosel to make contact first.

Weight Distribution

Improper weight distribution during the swing can also lead to shanks. If your weight shifts too much to your toes, you might move the clubhead off its intended path.

How to Prevent Shanks

Preventing shanks requires a combination of proper technique and mental focus. Here are some tips to help you avoid this dreaded mishit:

Check Your Alignment

Make sure your feet, hips, and shoulders are aligned parallel to your target line. Use alignment sticks during practice to ensure you’re setting up correctly.

Adjust Your Grip

Ensure your grip is neither too strong nor too weak. A neutral grip, where the V’s formed by your thumbs and forefingers point towards your right shoulder (for right-handed golfers), can help maintain clubface control.

Focus on Your Swing Path

Work on maintaining an inside-to-outside swing path. Practice drills that encourage this swing motion, such as placing a headcover outside the ball to avoid hitting it.

Balance Your Weight

Keep your weight balanced between your heels and toes. Practice swings with a focus on maintaining this balance throughout your swing.

Fixing a Shank Mid-Round

Even with the best preparation, shanks can still happen during a round. Here’s what to do if you start shanking the ball:

Stay Calm

Panicking will only make things worse. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that even professional golfers experience shanks.

Make a Quick Adjustment

Often, a small adjustment can correct a shank. Try standing slightly further from the ball or focusing on hitting the ball with the toe of the club.

Visualize a Smooth Swing

Sometimes shanks are caused by tension or overthinking. Visualize a smooth, relaxed swing and trust your practice.

Long-Term Solutions for Shanking

If shanking becomes a persistent issue, consider these long-term strategies:

Take a Lesson

A professional golf instructor can diagnose the root cause of your shanks and provide personalized drills to fix them.

Use Training Aids

Training aids, such as the “anti-shank” club or alignment sticks, can help reinforce proper swing mechanics and alignment.

Regular Practice

Consistent practice with a focus on the fundamentals can help eliminate shanks over time. Incorporate drills that emphasize correct alignment, grip, and swing path.

The Mental Aspect of Shanking

Shanking can be as much a mental issue as a physical one. Here are some tips to manage the psychological aspect of dealing with shanks:

Stay Positive

Negative thoughts can lead to tension and more shanks. Stay positive and focus on your successes rather than dwelling on mistakes.

Visualization Techniques

Visualize successful shots before you hit them. This can help build confidence and reduce anxiety.

Routine and Focus

Develop a pre-shot routine that helps you stay focused and relaxed. Consistency in your routine can translate to consistency in your swing.


Understanding what a shank in golf is and how to prevent it can significantly improve your game. By focusing on proper alignment, grip, swing path, and weight distribution, you can reduce the likelihood of shanking. Remember, even the best golfers experience shanks, so stay calm and make small adjustments as needed. With practice and perseverance, you can overcome this challenge and enjoy a more consistent and enjoyable golfing experience.

External Resources

To further enhance your understanding and skills, check out these valuable resources:

If you enjoyed this post, we’re sure you’ll also find our other articles interesting. Check out our beginner golf club set guide and discover everything you need to know about it.

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