How To Avoid Hitting a Shank Shot in Golf

In golf, nothing is worse than having something go wrong with your golf swing. For me, it’s especially nerve-wracking if it’s your first drive of the day – Hole 1, which is usually so “conveniently” viewable from not only the practice putting greens, but the clubhouse verandah as well. Unlike a blown shot from mid-fairway that could be hidden from some eyes, on the tee, there’s often an audience.

I’m sure we’ve all hit these dreaded “shank” shots – those shots that defy logic and often gravity, as they soar 100 feet into the air, only to land two feet from where you last hit it.

What is a shank shot?

A shank shot is usually an iron shot that happens when, instead of connecting the club head solidly with the ball, you hit the ball with some other part, say – the hosel or just a glancing blow to the ball. According to a PGA Teaching Professional we asked, a shank shot often happens because you’re hitting the ball from a stance that is too much inside-out.

How does a shank shot play?

If your ball is hit poorly, it often caroms out of control in almost any direction except the one you were hoping for—including the rare, yet oh-so-possible-straight overhead shot. But if you’re right-handed, most shanks will fly off somewhere to the right.

How to prevent a shank

One thing to examine if you do tend to shank the ball often is your stance. Are you standing too close to the ball? How is your weight distributed? Maybe you have too much weight on the balls of your feet, or you’re pushing your arms away from you during your backswing and downswing, or you’re leaning improperly toward the ball with your head as you swing.

Like so much in golf, there are many possibilities for why your shots play the way they do.

Correcting and preventing shank shots

First, try and identify where the problem lies. Ask a golf pro or golfing buddy to watch your swing. If you have problems with your basic setup and positioning over the ball, then that’s an “easy” fix. You can’t hit a good shot without standing in the right place.

To correct your setup, remember to stand parallel to the line of flight you want your ball to take. Imagine you were standing on a railroad track (imagine, don’t do this of course!), with your body on the inside rail, and the ball on the outside rail. This is about the distance you want and the parallel setup that will help keep your swing in line.

We hope that these tips and advice have given you a better understanding of what a shank shot is, so you might be able to avoid some in the future. Everyone hits one once and awhile, the key is to know why you did, and correct it on your next shot!

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