My Golf Instructor

Curing a Shank
The Dreaded Disease

Understand what causes a shank, to prevent them from happeningUnderstand the Causes of a Shank

Shhhhhh...don't even utter the word. For those of you that have "caught" them, you know exactly what I mean. Brought to the big screen in the hit golf movie "Tin Cup", shanks have forever been the most feared thing in golf. Yes...that's right, the most feared. They are truly like a virus, once you've caught them they are very difficult to get rid of and the fear and unease that they may come back is haunting. But fear not. I'm here to tell you that if you know what causes shanks, they actually ARE easy to get rid of. The unease comes from most golfers' ignorance as to what causes them and how to go about fixing it.

A shank is a sharp low curve that goes almost 90 degrees off the hosel or heel of the club. The ball will veer off uncontrollably sideways head on to where the golfer is standing at address as opposed to going down the fairway. It is a horrible feeling as you haven't advanced the ball and probably landed in a lot of trouble after making a full effort swing. They used to say a shank was the next closest thing to a perfect swing. That is pretty much the truth and important to know. Your swing might be 99% perfect, but one small thing could be off enough to make you hit a 1/2" or inch too far towards the heel. The result is the most frustrating thing ever and your mind races to figure out what caused it. The race is on to figure it out before you have to hit the next shot. The next shot is hit with so much apprehension that it never has a chance to be good.

What Causes a Shank?

Fixing a shank requires knowing what causes a shank. It is the only way to go about diagnosing your swing. You already know that it is a shot hit off the hosel or heel. Now lets explore what causes the club to make contact with the ball on the hosel.

The first two things to check are your set up and your balance. If you gradually creep in towards the ball with your address position, you could be setting yourself up to shank. This happens subconsciously so the distance between yourself and the ball is something you should always monitor. Make sure you can fit at least a fist or even a fist and a thumb between your thigh and the butt end of the grip.

Balance is key. Although you may start with your weight in the center of your feet where it should be, during the swing you might lean forward onto your toes moving the from the sweet spot to the heel of the club. Make sure to stay in the center of your feet throughout the swing.

Lastly, your swing plane could be the cause of a shank. If your club is attacking the ball from too far outside-in or too far inside-out you can catch the hosel instead of the center of the face. Either of these extreme swing paths can be caused by a variety of errors. Be sure to check out my sections devoted to those specifically.

Poking fun at the challenge of getting rid of the shanks my favorite saying goes..."One good shank deserves another". Remember, if you are aware of the causes you can quickly diagnose what you need to change.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
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