Why Am I Shanking My Irons | Causes and 100% Fixes

why am I shanking my irons

Why am I shanking my irons? This is a question that echoes across golf courses far and wide. After all, there’s nothing quite as disappointing as getting ready to hit a perfect iron shot, but then the ball goes in the wrong direction with a shank.

As a golfer, the shank is an absolute nightmare. It’s when the ball comes off the hosel of the club instead of the clubface, causing it to shoot off to the right at an alarming angle. Distance-wise, it’s a fraction of what I normally expect.

The result is a shot with no power or accuracy and frustration for the golfer. It’s a shot that can ruin a hole, a round, or even a whole event. No golfer wants to shank the ball, but it’s a possibility every time we step up to the tee.

Why Am I Shanking My Irons?

If you are experiencing trouble with consistently hitting your irons cleanly, producing shots that veer off to the right or left (or worse, slicing), or experiencing a significant reduction in total distance, there’s a good chance you’re shanking your irons. This is a frustrating and, at times, demoralizing issue that many golfers face. Shanking irons can occur due to the grip, swing plane, ball position, and weight shift, and may also involve some psychological factors.

1. Grip: An improper grip can lead to shanking irons. Not only this, but an improper grip also leads to shanking wedges. Remember, the grip should be firm but not too tight, which may cause tension.

2. Swing Plane: A wrong swing plane can affect the trajectory of the ball, leading to shanking. 

3. Ball Position: Incorrect ball placement, such as too close to the body, can cause a shank. 

4. Weight Shift: Inadequate weight transfer during the swing can also cause a shank. 

5. Psychological Factors: Mental blockages, low self-confidence, anxiety, or negative self-talk can also lead to shanking irons all of a sudden.

Now let’s understand these points in more detail below. 

1. Grip

The grip is one of the fundamental aspects of any golf swing. If your grip is too strong or too weak, it can affect your clubface’s alignment and can lead to a mis-hit. I’ve found that when I grip my club too tightly, shanking short irons is much easier. A proper grip should be firm but not tight, and the V’s between your thumb and forefinger of each hand should point towards your trailing shoulder. 

2. Swing Plane

The swing plane is the path your clubhead travels during your golf swing. An outside-to-inside swing path is a common culprit for shanked shots. This means your clubhead is striking the ball from the outside, causing your ball to shoot off to the right. I’ve found that my swing plane could be the issue when I am pulling my irons to the left in my shot.  

3. Ball Position

The position of the ball in your stance is another cause of shanked shots. A ball positioned too far forward in your stance can lead to shanking. This is because having the ball too far forward can cause your clubhead to swing inwards, and the face will be out of alignment with the ball. I have experienced this problem before, so I always ensure I have the ball positioned correctly in my stance.

4. Weight Shift

Your weight shift is a critical factor in your golf swing. If you’re shifting your weight towards your toes, it can throw you off-balance, and the shaft can hit the ball’s heel, causing a shank. I’ve found that concentrating on my weight shift throughout my swing has helped me avoid these shots.

5. Psychological Factors

Golf is as mental as it is physical, and the anxiety and pressure associated with the game can cause problems. Tensing up before a shot can result in a lack of control and cause you to mis-hit the ball. To avoid this, I take deep breaths and practice positive self-talk before hitting my shot. Usually, this helps me relax and focus on the task at hand.

I remember one time when I was playing in a tournament, I shanked two iron shots in a row. I could feel the disappointment growing on my face with each mis-hit. The pressure was overwhelming. But, instead of letting my nerves control me, I took a deep breath and focused on my fundamentals. After checking my grip, swing plane, and ball position, I worked on my weight shift, making sure it was balanced. 

The next shot, I hit almost perfectly of course not 100% but the improvement was worth considering. It’s hard to describe the feeling of hitting a shot after a slump, but it’s one of the most satisfying things a golfer can experience.

All in all, there is a huge role of biomechanics in improving the game technique and improving your golf swing considerably. 

How to Stop Shanking Irons?

Golfers know the horror of the shank only too well. As someone who has had to overcome the shank firsthand, I want to share a few tips that have worked for me to fix shanking irons.  

  • Maintain a Proper Grip

The first thing I would advise is checking your grip. A faulty grip can cause all sorts of problems with your swing, and shanking is just one of them. Ideally, you want to have a nice, relaxed grip on your club, with your hands positioned correctly. Your left hand should sit on top of the club, with your fingers wrapping around the club and your thumb pointing down the shaft. Your right hand should be underneath the club, with your thumb pointing down the shaft. 

a closeup image of a golfer's gripping the golf club

Make sure you’re not gripping the club too tightly, as this can lead to the clubface being closed and put a lot of unwanted pressure on your hands, which can contribute to shanking.

  • Ensure Proper Stance and Posture

Second, ensuring a proper stance and posture is crucial to a good swing. To prevent shanking, you need to know how far to stand from the golf ball & position yourself in a way that allows you to swing in a natural motion. Start by feeling your feet planted firmly on the ground, with your legs shoulder-width apart. Keep your spine straight and bend your knees slightly. With your arms relaxed and extended, you’ll be able to create a more natural, balanced swing that can help to prevent shanking.

  • Focus On Your Swing Plane

Thirdly, focus on your swing plane. One of the most common reasons golfers shank is that their swing plane is incorrect. An incorrect swing plane can cause the clubface to be open or closed, leading to inaccurate shots, and shanking. So, to prevent shanking, focus on swinging the club back and through on the correct swing plane. Looking to increase your clubhead speed? Follow our user guide now.

  • Consult a Golf Instructor

Sometimes, despite how much we read and practice, we can’t figure out what’s going wrong on our own. Seeking professional advice from a golf instructor can be a valuable asset. They will be able to assess your swing, your stance, your grip, and your posture, and provide you with tips and advice on how to improve your overall swing technique.

Drills to Stop Shanking Irons

There are drills to help you eliminate the dreaded shank from your shots. By incorporating these four simple and effective techniques into your routine, you can say goodbye to shanking and hello to consistent and accurate shots.

Drill 1: The Tennis Ball Drill

One reason for shanking an iron is moving your head during your swing. To prevent this, try the tennis ball drill. All you need for this drill is a tennis ball. Here is what you need to do.

Step 1. Secure a tennis ball between your chin and the base of your neck.

Step 2. Take your stance and set up the ball.

Step 3. Make your swing focusing on keeping your head still and the ball in place.

Step 4. Repeat this drill several times to develop muscle memory.
Drill 2: The Alignment Drill

Alignment is crucial in your swing, and a small error can lead to the dreaded shank. To help improve your alignment, try the alignment drill.

Step 1. Lay a club on the ground, parallel to your target line.

Step 2. Set up to the ball with your feet, hips, and shoulders squared to the club.

Step 3. Hit the ball without touching the ground with your club as you swing.

Step 4. Practice your alignment several times to improve it.
Drill 3: The Weight Transfer Drill

Shanking an iron can also be due to poor weight transfer in your swing. Try the weight transfer drill to help fix this problem.

Step 1. Set up to the ball with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Step 2. Take your backswing and shift your weight to your back foot.

Step 3. As you start your downswing, transfer your weight to your front foot.

Step 4. Focus on keeping your weight centered and your swing balanced.
Drill 4: The Impact Bag Drill

Poor ball-striking skills can lead to shanking. The impact bag drill can help you develop better ball-striking skills.

Step 1. Set up an impact bag or a pillow with a tee inside it.

Step 2. Focus on hitting the tee with the center of your clubface.

Step 3. Make your swing, striking the tee inside the bag.

Step 4. Practice striking the ball several times to improve your skills.

How to Stop Shanking Wedges?

I knew I had to do something to stop shanking wedges. So I asked my fellow golfers to help me. After years of struggling with this issue myself, I along with my fellow golfers have researched and experimented with various techniques to reduce the occurrence of this shot.

Check Your Grip

As with many golf-related problems, the grip can be a root cause of shanking wedges. When you’re holding the club in such a way that your hands are turned too far to the left, your right hand (for right-handed golfers) may become too dominant in the swing, causing you to hit the ball with the hosel (the curved metal piece at the edge of the clubface). Try adjusting your grip by rotating your hands to the right on the club handle. This can promote a smoother, straighter swing, and decrease the chances of shanking.

Shot Alignment 

Another cause of shanking your wedges is improper alignment. When your body is situated too far in front of the ball, your bodyweight and clubhead are redirected through the ball and hit the ball’s metal edge. This can lead to a poor shot and shank. Focus on aligning your body squarely behind the ball, and keep your weight evenly distributed between both feet.

Clubface Position 

The clubface at the impact is another critical factor in shanks. If the clubface is too open, this can cause the ball to launch off to the right prematurely. Likewise, if the clubface is too closed, the ball can head to the left way before it should. Both of these situations can cause you to shank the ball. Focus on keeping your clubface square to the target line at impact.

Footwork

Finally, poor footwork can also trigger shanking wedges. This is typically caused by rock-hard turf or soft, deep, and wet sand, both of which can interrupt a player’s swing and cause shanks. To avoid this situation, practice your footwork and wedge game when weather conditions are consistent and interference is unlikely.

Why Am I Shanking My Wedges?

Unlike irons, wedges have a shorter shaft, increase the loft angle, and require the golfer to hit the ball with more precision. This combination can create a challenging issue for the golfer, leading to constant shank shots.

The main cause of wedge shanks is standing too close to the ball at the address or leaning forward too much during your swing. This can lead to a heel strike, where the ball comes off the hosel and goes right. The heel strike occurs when the clubface is open, and the ball comes off the heel instead of the center of the clubface. It also occurs when the swing path is too steep or if the club is too close to the ball at impact.

In fact, a few years back, I was playing a round of golf with my friends in California. We were on the 18th hole, and I needed to hit the ball 100 yards to reach the green. I took out my wedge and went into my setup. As I swung the club down, I felt that familiar jolt, and I watched as the ball shot off to the right. My friends all looked at me with bemusement, and I felt embarrassed. That experience taught me that I needed to work on my wedges if I wanted to improve my golf game.

How to Stop Shanking the Golf Ball?

a golfer shank a golf ball

Shanking the ball is not reserved for a single club type. It’s easy to assume that shanking only happens when using a wedge or small iron, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Besides shanking wedges or irons, I’ve seen shanks occur with drivers, and yes, even a putter. Here are some tips to stop shanking the golf ball-

  • Firstly, it’s important to make sure that your arms are down, not out when addressing the ball. By keeping your arms closer to your body, you’ll have better control over the swing and reduce the chances of hitting the ball with the hosel. Additionally, paying attention to your weight shift can also help. Shifting your weight to your front foot during the downswing can help you hit the ball more consistently.
  • Another method that can be effective is hitting 10-15 shots with the iron that’s causing the problem, addressing the ball of the hosel each time. While this may seem counterproductive, it can help you get a better feel for the club and how to avoid hitting the ball with the hosel. It’s important to keep your head still and focused on the ball while doing this exercise.
  • Finally, pipework can also be an effective method to stop shanking the ball. This involves placing a pipe or PVC pipe just outside the ball and swinging the club without hitting the pipe. This helps promote a more inside-out swing path, which can reduce the chances of hitting the ball with the hosel.

Remember, these methods can apply to all types of clubs. At the same time, it’s also crucial to practice to prevent shanking. Practicing proper alignment, balance, and swing mechanics can help prevent shanking. Make sure you keep practicing with different clubs to prevent over-reliance on a single club. Get ready to hit the golf ball straight with ease.

How to Never Shank a Golf Ball Again
StepDetails
Ensure proper gripHold the club with a neutral grip, with the knuckles of your left hand pointing toward the target.
Maintain balanceKeep your weight evenly distributed between your feet and avoid leaning too far forward or backward.
Keep your head stillAvoid moving your head during the swing to maintain a stable swing path.
Control your swing pathFocus on swinging along an inside-out path, toward the target.
Use your hipsInitiate the downswing with a lateral movement of your hips, which will help you avoid swinging too far to the outside and shanking the ball.
Practice drillsIncorporate drills such as hitting off tees that are closer to your body than usual or practicing with a barrier to your right side to help ingrain the proper swing path.
Consider a lessonSeek out a professional instructor to help identify and correct any underlying issues with your swing mechanics.
Anti-shank ironsUse anti-shank irons specifically designed to reduce the likelihood of shanking, with wider club heads and more weight in the heel

How to Bounce Back After a Shank?

Take a deep breath and don’t get discouraged. It’s easy to let that one shot dictate the rest of your game, but that’s the last thing you want to do. Remember that golf is a mental game just as much as it is a physical one, so don’t let negative thoughts creep in.

Now, try to identify what went wrong. Was it your grip? Your stance? Your swing plane? Whatever it was, make a mental note of it and try to correct it on your next shot. Don’t dwell on the mistake, learn from it.

One tactic that has worked for me is to take a few practice swings to reset my rhythm and get back into the swing of things (pun intended). It can also help to aim for a different target, just to change things up and get out of your head.

Most importantly, remember to stay loose and have fun! Golf is a game, and games are meant to be enjoyable. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or take everything too seriously. Remember that even the pros have bad shots sometimes.

Hitting a shank can be demoralizing, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your game. Stay focused, analyze your mistakes, practice, adjust your mentality, and seek outside help if necessary.

Precision Strikes: Your Journey to Shank-Free Iron Shots

I may not know why am I shanking my irons and wedges, but one thing I do know is that I won’t give up on my golf game. It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go our way, but I firmly believe that perseverance pays off in the end. 

There may be a variety of factors contributing to your shanks, from your grip to your swing mechanics. Whatever the issue may be, the key is to remain focused on making progress and to continually assess and adjust your approach. As the saying goes, “Knowledge is power,” so don’t hesitate to seek advice and input from other experienced golfers or professionals in the field. Let’s keep striving towards our best game and follow Golf Ace Nation for continued inspiration and guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can a bad grip cause a shank?

A bad grip can definitely cause a shank in golf. It may seem like a small detail, but the way you hold the club is crucial for making proper contact with the ball. If your grip is too weak or too strong, your clubface can be misaligned and cause the ball to veer off course. This can lead to that dreaded shank that golfers fear. 

Q. Can being too shallow cause shanks?

Being too shallow can certainly contribute to shanking the ball on the course. When your clubface makes contact with the ball too early in your swing, the ball will be sent flying off course. This mistake is often seen with short irons and can lead to frustration on the course. To avoid shanking, focus on finding the right balance with your club and striking the ball at the right time in your swing.

Q. Why do the Shanks keep coming back?

The Shanks. They’re the bane of every golfer’s existence. No matter how many times you think you’ve left them behind, they always seem to find their way back. It’s a frustrating phenomenon, but it’s also an opportunity to improve. Instead of dwelling on the shanks, focus on the mechanics of your swing and what you can do to perfect it. Analyze your grip, your stance, and your follow-through. 

Q. Can alignment cause shanks?

Alignment can indeed cause shanks. Every golfer wants to avoid this dreaded shot, but poor alignment can lead to an unexpected slice that sends the ball careening off in the wrong direction. It’s critical to position yourself correctly in relation to the ball and target and to make any necessary adjustments based on the type of shot you’re taking.

Q. Does getting stuck cause shanks?

Getting stuck can definitely lead to shanks on the golf course. When you get stuck behind a tree or a bunker, the natural tendency is to try to force the ball out of trouble. This often leads to an over-the-top swing and an awkward, off-center hit that results in a shank. Rather than trying to muscle your way out of trouble, it’s important to stay relaxed and focused on making a good, smooth swing. 

Q. Can lack of rotation cause shank?

Yes, lack of rotation can cause shank. When a golfer fails to rotate their hips and shoulders properly during the swing, the clubface can become misaligned and impact the ball off-center, resulting in a shank. It’s crucial to maintain a balanced and rotational swing to avoid this frustrating shot. 

Q. Can a flat golf swing cause a shank?

A flat golf swing can cause a shank. When the swing is too flat, the clubface will open up, causing the ball to hit more toward the heel. This can result in a dreaded shank. So, if you’re struggling with shanks on the course, try adjusting your swing to be a bit more upright. It could make all the difference in your game.

Q. Does early extension cause Shanks?

Early extension is a common issue in golf swings, but does it lead to shanking the ball? The answer is not as straightforward as one might think. While early extension can certainly cause the club to move off its intended path, leading to an inconsistent strike, shanking is more likely the result of a breakdown in the wrists or an incorrect setup. 

Q. Does a steep swing cause a shank?

A steep swing can lead to a shank, but it’s not always the case. It depends on the golfer’s technique and approach to the shot. A golfer with a steep swing should be mindful of their clubface and club path to avoid hitting the ball off the hosel and into the rough. Practice and awareness are key to improving your swing and avoiding shanks.

Q. Does over-the-top swing cause shanks?

Over-the-top swing can lead to shank shots for some golfers. This is because the swing path goes outside to in, causing the club face to open and pushing the ball to the right for a right-handed golfer. To avoid shanking, it’s important to work on correcting the swing path and keeping the club face square through impact.

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