Banish the Dreaded Golf Shank: Causes, Fixes, and Prevention

golfer reacting after a bad golf shot

As a golfer, you’re likely all too familiar with the frustration of hitting a shank. This dreaded shot is not only embarrassing but can also severely impact your confidence on the course. In this article, we’ll dive into the causes of a shank, how to fix it, and most importantly, how to prevent it from happening in the future. So let’s get started!

Understanding the Golf Shank

A shank occurs when the ball makes contact with the hosel of the club, which is the part that connects the clubhead to the shaft. This typically sends the ball shooting off to the right for right-handed golfers, and to the left for left-handed golfers. It’s a shot that no golfer wants to experience, but unfortunately, it’s a part of the game for many players.

What Causes a Shank?

Before we discuss how to fix a shank, it’s essential to understand the root causes. Here are some of the most common reasons why golfers shank the ball:

Poor Setup

  • Incorrect Ball Position: If the ball is too far forward or back in your stance, it can cause you to shank the shot. Ideally, the ball should be positioned in the middle of your stance for short irons, gradually moving forward as the clubs get longer.
  • Stance Too Wide or Narrow: A stance that is too wide or too narrow can throw off your balance and make it difficult to strike the ball squarely. For most shots, your feet should be shoulder-width apart, with slight adjustments depending on the club and shot type.

Related: Mastering Golf Ball Position for Optimal Shotmaking

Swing Path Issues

  • Over-the-Top Swing: An over-the-top swing occurs when your hands and club move outside the target line during the downswing. This motion can cause the clubhead to collide with the ball near the hosel, resulting in a shank.
  • Excessive Inside-to-Out Swing Path: Conversely, an excessive inside-to-out swing path can also cause a shank. This swing path may lead to the clubhead moving too far from the inside, making it difficult to square up the clubface at impact.

Related: Master Your Golf Setup: A Simple Guide to a Proper Stance

Weight Shift Problems

  • Not Shifting Weight Properly During the Swing: Failing to shift your weight correctly during the golf swing can lead to inconsistent contact with the ball. For a solid golf swing, your weight should shift from the back foot during the backswing to the front foot during the downswing.
  • Leaning Toward the Ball During the Downswing: Leaning toward the ball during the downswing can cause you to hit the ball with the hosel instead of the clubface. This movement can be challenging to detect, but it’s a common cause of shanking.

How to Fix a Shank

Now that we’ve identified the common causes of a shank, let’s explore some fixes to help you get back on track.

Address Setup Issues

  • Correct Ball Position: Pay attention to your ball position during setup. As a general rule, position the ball in the middle of your stance for short irons, moving it gradually forward for longer clubs.
  • Check Your Stance: Ensure your feet are shoulder-width apart and that you have a stable base for your swing. Experiment with slight adjustments to find the stance width that provides the best balance and contact for you.

Related: Golf Alignment 101: Get on Target Every Time

Improve Your Swing Path

  • Eliminate Over-the-Top Swing: To correct an over-the-top swing, focus on initiating your downswing with your hips and lower body instead of your hands and arms. This movement should help you drop the club into a better position, promoting a more desirable swing path.
  • Address Excessive Inside-to-Out Swing Path: If you have an excessive inside-to-out swing path, try to feel like you’re swinging more “down the line” or toward your target. This adjustment can help you square up the clubface at impact and prevent shanking the ball.

Resolve Weight Shift Problems

  • Practice Proper Weight Shift: Work on shifting your weight smoothly from your back foot to your front foot during the swing. Drills that emphasize this movement can help you develop a more consistent weight transfer.
  • Avoid Leaning Toward the Ball: Focus on maintaining your posture and spine angle throughout the swing. If you find yourself leaning toward the ball during the downswing, work on keeping your head steady and maintaining the distance between your body and the ball.

How to Prevent Golf Shanks

To reduce the likelihood of shanking the ball in the future, consider incorporating these tips and practices into your routine:

  1. Regularly check your setup: Before every shot, make sure your ball position, stance, and alignment are correct. Establishing a consistent pre-shot routine can help with this.
  2. Monitor your swing path: Periodically review your swing path to ensure you’re not developing any detrimental habits. Video analysis or working with a golf instructor can help you identify and correct any swing path issues.
  3. Develop a solid weight transfer: Incorporate drills that focus on proper weight transfer into your practice sessions. A consistent weight shift is crucial for solid ball striking and avoiding shanks.
  4. Practice under pressure: If shanks tend to occur more frequently during high-pressure situations, try simulating these scenarios during practice. This can help you build confidence and improve your ability to perform when it counts.


Shanking the ball can be a frustrating and embarrassing experience, but with the right understanding of the causes and fixes, you can get your game back on track. By addressing setup issues, improving your swing path, and ensuring proper weight transfer, you can reduce the likelihood of shanking and boost your confidence on the course. Remember, practice makes perfect – so keep working on your game, and you’ll be shank-free in no time!

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Joe Morelli

Joe Morelli is the founder of TopRankGolf, a passionate golfer with decades of experience playing this amazing sport. He's dedicated to helping golfers learn, improve and enjoy the game of golf.