Golf Shank

Golf Emergency: Get rid of the Shanks

Yes, this article is all about the dreaded “S” word in golf. No, it’s not the four letter word you might be thinking when you hit a bad shot. 

It’s a five letter word that terrifies even the best golfers in the world. Yes, even tour pros can suffer from this nightmare of a golf shot. 

Just ask Ian Poulter who has an entire Youtube compilation of all of these epic misses. Be careful as that is a painful video to watch. 

So, what shot is it?  

The “s-h-a-n-k”  

It’s a shot that is humiliating, embarrassing, and usually kills your confidence when it happens. It can be really hard to bounce back after hitting one of these mid-round, especially in a tournament. 

But, like anything in golf you can overcome the bad shot by learning why it happened and take the steps to learn how to fix it. 

If you’re shanking wedges or any iron keep reading to learn how to permanently fix this dreaded miss. 

What Is a Golf Shank? 

So, what is a golf shank?  Not to be confused with a prison shank. 

A shank is when the ball hits the hosel of the club, nearly missing the club face entirely. Once it hits the hosel and not the clubface, the ball will shoot right and go a fraction of the distance it’s supposed to.  

The shank is one of the worst shots you can hit. It’s also an unspeakable word on the golf course as it has been known to contaminate others in your foursome. 

Most shanks happen out of nowhere and can ruin a great round of golf if you let it. They can also lead to serious doubt the next time you have a similar shot making you play in fear. 

Just remember, shanking in golf is another way of saying hitting on the hosel.

What causes the shank to happen? 

The shank happens because the clubface is closed and the toe of the club hits into the ground producing a long, skinny divot. Again, the shank happens because the club is dramatically shut at impact NOT open. It’s hard for most golfers to imagine the ball going that far right with a closed face.

What’s worse is that once a golfer thinks it’s caused by an open face, most players will try to close the club even more resulting in more shanks! 

Here are the two main reasons why the shank happens: 

1. Taking the Club Too Far Inside on The Backswing

The shot is actually produced by taking the club to the inside and producing an over the top swing path at impact. Most golfers think its because the club is open at impact, but again this is not the case. I’m reiterating this as there are several articles online stating otherwise, ignore them! 

2. Weight is Too Far Forward (On Your Toes) 

The other reason is that your weight is off and you lose balance mid swing. Usually, your weight tends to get more on the toes and over the ball.

Luckily, you can fix this shot once and for all with these drills! 

Easy Drills to Show You How to Cure Shanks 

Remember, the shank is caused by coming over the top with a very closed clubface. Keep this in mind as you use these few drills on the range to help you cure the shanks. 

Drill #1 - Driver Headcover Drill  

  • Take your driver headcover and place it just on the outside of your ball. The toe of the club should almost be touching the headcover at address.
  • If you tend to come over the top on your downswing you will notice on the first few shots as you will probably hit or graze the headcover. 
  • As you hit more balls, address the ball differently by placing the ball on the toe of the club. You want to feel like you are swinging from the inside and swinging out toward your target.  
  • Done over time, this drill will force you swing from the inside producing more of a draw swing.

Drill #2 - David Leadbetter Heel Toe Anti-Shank Drill

If you need more than the headcover drill, check out this shank drill from one of the best instructors in the world David Leadbetter. Personally, I like the first one more as I can see how this drill could cause even more shanks. 

But this is a great drill if you are more of an intermediate golfer as it requires more knowledge of your own swing path. 

  • Address the ball from the heel (yes, where the shank actually happens) and crowd the golf ball. Setting up close to the ball will make you have to swing outside on your downswing. This should help you hit the club more off the toe which will not produce a shank.
  • Also, keep your weight back on your heels as the shank is sometimes caused by losing your balance on the downswing. Not having your weight evenly distributed to your heels causes the over the top motion which creates the hosel shank. 
  • Practice this shot with a pitching wedge or short iron as this is where the horrific shot most often occurs. 

How to Cure a Case of the Shanking Wedges 

Yes, the shanks can also happen during chipping and pitching around the greens! Watch this video and follow these instructions to help you cure the shanks when you are close to the green. 

Shank Short-Game Drill 

  • Use a gap wedge, pitching wedge or short iron.
  • Start by placing a ball near the green in light rough or fringe. Insert two tees next to the ball. You want the left tee (if you’re right handed) to be angled at the same angle of the shaft position at address. The right tee will be straight up and down like normal.  
  • If you’re hitting the club on the toe you’ll hit the right one and if you’re hitting it off the heel you’ll hit the left tee. 
  • Practice until you barely graze the right tee and try to avoid the left tee as it leads to the shank. 

How to Bounce Back After a Shank

If Ian Poulter can bounce back from a lot of shanks on the biggest stages in golf, you can too. While you might get plenty of grief from your friends don’t beat yourself up. You have to learn how to bounce back from the five letter word. 

Usually, after you shank the golf ball you are terrified to even touch a golf club again. But if you make a great recovery and save par no one will care. Remember, there are no pictures on the scorecard.

Use these three methods to bounce back after hitting the hosel rocket.

1. Keep Calm and Relaxed

After the shank occurs anxiety, anger, and frustration and inevitable. Instead of reacting, take a few deep breaths, laugh if needed, and think about the next shot you have. 

If you go to the next shot tense you will have way too much tension in your forearms. Before you swing, lighten up on your death grip and relax your forearms. The more relaxed you are the more likely you will be able to hit the ball like normal. 

2. Keep Your Weight Back

Make sure that you keep your weight more towards your heels the next time you address the ball. If you are standing too far away from the ball this will cause you to get your weight on the toes. Stand a little closer to the ball to help promote an in to out swing path. 

3. Visualize The Perfect Shot

While your brain is programmed for negativity as a survival instinct, it’s especially true after a hosel rocket shank. Before you hit your next shot spend an extra moment imagining and visualizing the ideal shot. 

Don’t live in the past, choose to create a perfect next shot so you can salvage the hole and maybe the round. 

The Bottom Line

Don’t let the shank be the reason you give up the great game of golf. Seriously, some golfers have given up from seeing this shot too many times. Don’t let this nightmare of a shot ruin your love of the game. 


Remember, you can learn to eliminate this shot from your game with these simple drills from two of the best instructors in the world. If you’re suffering from the “S” word try out both and see which drills work best for your game. 


If the hosel rocket does happen again in a round, remind yourself that it happens to Ian Poulter in PGA Tour events so doing it with friends doesn’t really matter. Instead, laugh it off and challenge yourself to get up and down and save a par.


Hopefully these tips are easy and helpful to giving you the cure to shanks forever! 

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