Have you got a case of the shanks?
It’s the number one golfing mistake that shall not be named but we have to! If you are just starting out, chances are you will hit many shanks. As for all you experienced golfers, find out what’s destroying your game.
Think of a shank as the one thing that you don’t seem to get right. You try and try, and then, you finally give up. When someone later mentions doing the exact same thing, you get anxiety. Similarly, golfers fear a shank so much that they don’t even say the word. You will often hear either “pitch-outs” or “laterals” being thrown around on the field.
If you are looking for an answer to your question, “Why do I shank my irons?” then you have come to the right place. Let’s begin:
First, Let’s Explain What a Shank is in Golf?
A shank is a big mishit that happens when the ball doesn’t meet the clubface. As a result, the ball flies off only a short distance and to the right of the target. The cause behind a shank is the hosel. Instead of connecting the face with the grooves, the ball connects with the hosel. This is the part where the shaft joins the clubface.
There’s no rhyme or rhythm to shanking. It just happens. Once you get going, it becomes hard to come out of the rut. Here’s a scenario to help you understand how shanking usually happens.
You are having a great day on the field. You are staring at an easy pitch that will take you to the final green, where even a bogey or a par will get you the best score. It’s simple: an easy pitch, a round swing and all you have to do is stick it close. However, this devil sitting on your shoulder maliciously misguides your hosel and instead of hitting from the sweet spot, you shank it. The ball goes a small distance to the right and stops. Thinking it was a fluke, you move forward and get ready to strike again… and you shank again. What follows is a series of shanks, which makes all the other golfers gasp. Depressed, you pick a center-shafted putter club head and finally take the ball to the green. When all has been horribly done, none of the golfers talk about it, probably because they think they will catch a case of the shanks from you.
The reason golfers believe a shank is contagious is because it’s both, a mental and physical problem. It always starts with when you first shank your ball and then get anxiety about your next shot. The golfers standing around you immediately start planning their hit in their mind with one thought on repeat ― hopefully, they don’t shank their ball. By now, everyone is panicking and eventually, the pressure gets to them.
Now, let’s take a look at the physical reasons you shank your ball:
Causes of a Shank
Taking the Club Far Inside During the Backswing
When you take the club too far to the inside, it produces a wide swing path on impact. Most golfers assume this happens because of the club being open on impact. However, that’s not the case. You will feel the impact of the hit immediately and realize that your swing was a bit to the side.
The Wrong Swing Path
The swing path is the second most common shanking problem. Usually, an inside to outside swing is what golfers take for impact but when the downswing is out and not on point, the hosel is what touches the ball first.
Your Grip is Off
Your grip pressure is one of the most important things you should take notice of before swinging. If your grip is light, it’s possible that the club head might shift during the backswing. We all have seen those videos where the club head goes flying into the air just because the golfer had a few of his fingers open. As a right hander, your group should be tighter from the bottom three fingers.
A great way to check if this is what’s causing you to shank is to hold some grass during your swing. Place the grass between your hands and grip and a small amount on your left thumb. If the grass remains in place then your swing was right and something else is causing you to shank.
A downswing slide happens when your body is lower than it is supposed to be. In hopes of driving the ball further, you go lower which bends your knees and you move closer toward the target. As a result, the hosel connects with the ball first.
Putting Your Weight on Your Toes
We all have been guilty of losing balance mid swing. It’s a fluke that happens only a couple of times because your weight is on the toes, which makes the swing is a bit higher and over the ball.
Distance of Your Feet from the Ball
If your hands are not in line with your body and farther away at impact compared to their position during address, then you will surely hit a shank.
The 4-Step Shanking Checklist
- Stand at the correct distance and right angle from the ball
- Make sure that your grip is tight
- Go for an inside to outside swing
- Stop yourself from “sliding” during the downswing
Tips to Avoid Shanking
- Line up the hosel of your club with the ball
- During the downswing, focus on making contact with the iron club’s toe
- Uponimpact, make sure your hands are positioned near your body
- The chances of shanking your hit are lower if you hit near the toe
- Adjust your bodyweight and make sure that when swinging, you are balanced on your heels
Our Final Thoughts
So, to answer your question, “Why do I shank my irons?”… It’s a number of reasons from your grip to weight, the wrong impact side and putting too much thought into the swing. Clear your thoughts when going out on the field and make sure to follow the tips mentioned above. You will do just fine. Remember ― address the problem after the first shank or you might develop a bad habit.