How to Stop Shanking the Golf Ball

by Herman Williams

Depiction of a shanked shot in golf where the golf ball strikes the hosel or the shank of the golf club.

To stop shanking the golf ball, one must first understand what golf swing flaw is causing the shanked shots. In this golf lesson article and subsequent video by Herman Williams, PGA Professional in Raleigh, NC, we will discover both the causes and the cure for the shank.

First, a definition. A shanked golf shot is simply a shot in which the golf ball has struck against the inside corner of the heel of the club where the clubface joins the neck or hosel. This causes the golf ball to ricochet violently offline – to the right for right-handed golfers, left for the lefties.

Occasionally if you are really lucky the ball will make perfect contact with the front of the hosel where the shaft goes into the neck and the ball will go straight, but it will be a grounder as the blunt strike just beats the ball along the ground. If you’re not so lucky you may catch the golf ball toward the back of the hosel and have the ball fly right through your legs – kind of embarrassing when other golfers are behind you.

Lastly there is the rapid double-hit. Some shanked shots will ricochet off the hosel headed dead right only to be struck again by the toe of the clubface as it flies by – these shots exhibit a weird corkscrewing ball flight that still goes right but not straight out of bounds like the traditional shanked shot. The double-hit can be verified with impact decals on the face as you will see an impact mark on the heel and the toe from the same shot. However, it happens so fast you cannot hear or feel the double hit.

Most golfers think the shank and its violent, clanky offline flight are caused by an open clubface. However that is almost NEVER the case. In fact for most golfers the face is actually closed when the ball makes contact with the neck or hosel. The ball first contacts the rounded, angled portion of the inside of the neck and starts flying offline before any true contact with the flat clubface can be made.

So we know the face is not open and the ball flies dead right due to striking the neck. But why did it hit the neck?  Well there are 3 primary causes. Two related to swing path, one related to hand and wrist action. [A 4th possibility is caused by losing balance with the body drifting toward the ball in the downswing, but we will stick to what the club is doing in this article. If your body is diving toward the ball, try to keep your weight centered over your feet - avoid extreme toe or heel weighting.]

What Causes a Shank?

Shank Cause #1
Severe in to out swing path. This is a path in which the clubhead sinks or falls behind the player on the downswing. As speed and momentum build up, the club literally flies from coming down behind the player to going outward through the impact zone. The club stretches away from the player in the hitting area and eventually reaches too far away and shanks the ball. A right handed player with this swing style will appear to swing to the right of the target, usually draws the ball naturally but pushes it often and has a high finish.

Shank cause #2
Severe out to in swing path. This swing path puts the club outside over-the-top of the swing plane during the downswing. As the downswing gets under way, the speed of the swing continues to build and centrifugal force sends the clubhead out past the golf ball well before it arrives in the hitting area. Even though the player attempts to pull the club back across the ball, it is rarely enough, and the hosel collides with the ball and shanks it. This player usually hits fades or slices along with pulls and has a finish that appears left of target and low with the arms down around the body.

Shank cause #3 is much more subtle.
The player with this 3rd category of shanks often appears to have a technically sound swing. The shank comes out of nowhere and is a mystery to everyone watching as the swing looks good to the naked eye of the casual observer. This 3rd category of shank involves casting and or incorrectly rolling/scooping with the hands and wrists prior to and thru impact.

During the downswing, ideally the wrists will be fully hinged 90 degrees or more and this hinge will be preserved well in to the downswing to or beyond waist-high. Assuming the player can get to a waist-high downswing position with full wrist cock intact, it’s what happens next that is so important.

The back of the left wrist must rotate down (supination) as the right palm also rotates down (pronation.) But this must happen without the shaft being kicked offline in an outward direction. In other words, for the right handed golfer the right palm must be looking down and driving the club shaft along the toe line. If the right wrist gets in a bind half way down and kicks outward to relieve the pressure, it will shove the clubhead out off the intended path and shank the ball.

To prevent this problem it is imperative to have a neutral to weak right hand position that will not tend to get underneath the grip & club shaft in the  downswing and eventually scoop or shove the shaft outward. The weaker right hand will allow the palm to stay on top facing down while pressing the shaft down and keeping lag pressure along the back of the shaft all the way to impact.

Once you’ve learned to create a neutral to weak right hand grip, bend it with dorsiflexion in the takeaway and backswing to “support the tray of dishes” at the top. Then bring the club down with the right palm facing down for right handers. Keep that wrist bent back all the way to the hit. No scooping allowed.

For the shanks caused by swing path, simply put a box or headcover along the outer edge of the target line about one inch outside the ball and hit shots without hitting the obstacle. You can even create a gateway to hit through by placing a spare golf ball to the outside of the ball in play and then put another ball to the inside. This looks and feels like swinging thru a goal post and really sharpens the focus and the feeling of returning the clubhead on the proper path.

Herman Williams

Check out the following video to see the causes and cures for the shank first-hand. Be sure to comment.

{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

Ken

I’ve been playing golf since I was 10 years old and am now middle-aged. In my younger days I was a scratch golfer. I no longer have the time to commit to practicing like I did but I still maintain a 3-5 handicap. (I’ve lost some distance too) In all that time I have never once experienced the shanks…until just this year. Like many have stated here they seemed to “come totally out of the blue”? I was so caught off guard but the problem was once I started I almost couldn’t stop. Let me tell you how frustrating this is having never experienced anything like this before. It would seem that the problem started with and is mostly with short irons and wedges. Especially shorter shots where I am swinging with less than normal speeds. I noted that the problem first occurred when I was trying especially hard to hit down on the ball with a wedge to impart spin on the ball. I shanked it (much to my surprise) and have essentially from that point on not been able to hit anything but a shank? After the round I went to the range and could hit nothing but shanks? I am guessing that I am in that group who takes the club too far inside as my normal misses are an occasional “blocked shot” and my typical ball flight is slightly right to left. I am anxious to go try your cure of using a box or object now that I have seen this video (but as luck would have it it is raining today) but I do have one question. Obviously on the range one can use a box or other tools but on the course one cannot. What is the best when playing to keep the shanks away?

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Herman Williams

Hi Ken, Yes shanks tend to start in short irons and partial wedges for good players. These swings don’t have as much natural momentum or centrifugal force as full swings and are thus much more easily manipulated out of position. These wedge shanks are usually a combo of in-to-out path and slight scoop at impact. When the clubhead dips inside on the takeaway, the hands tend to simultaneously drift outward and then unfortunately stay out there for the rest of the swing.

Focus first on taking it back straighter, keeping the hands “in” and the clubhead more “out.” Coming thru the downswing, visualize keeping the hands ahead of the shaft and leaving the toe open as if hitting a cut shot. This prevents the clubhead from flipping outside its intended path. On the golf course it may help to simply focus your gaze on a piece of grass “inside” the location of the ball. Best of luck. – Herman

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forgetmylastshankalias

Hi Herman,

Last year I tried a cure I read about that involved not bending my right knee (right-hander) forward when swinging. The idea was that you don’t move forward into the ball. I also noticed that I had been moving my left knee forward when making my backswing so I stopped doing that too. Worked perfectly last year ( 4 over par round) so, of course, this spring it didn’t seem to work. Luckily, I had just found another tip two days earlier and tried that. It worked great too. It involves putting a golf ball under each foot so you can’t move forward towards the ball when swinging. Herman, I have a feeling I’ll have to incorporate the tips you just mention so I can avoid band-aid fixes. ps-someone asked about fixing shanks during a round. It’s interesting that Henrik Stenson and Web Simpson could hit perfect shots right after hitting shanks on national tv. How can they do that?

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Jim Battinus

In addition to Herman’s great video on shanks, try strengthening your grip with those less than full swing shanks. I found that my grip had weakened and was causing me to open the hosel to the ball.

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Tom Docherty

Hello Herman, great video…will have to try some of your fixes tomorrow on the Range. Here’s my problem. I was overweight (50 Pounds) but played to my 18 Handicap without really ever shanking. In the off-season, I lost the 50 pounds and just today, hit some balls on the Range. Much to my horror, I shanked just about 85% of my shots from a Sand Wedge to hitting horrific snap hooks and slices with my Driver. It’s as if I never played before. I tried moving away from the ball and adjusting my swing to be more of an inside out type approach, thinking that perhaps I was coming over the Top. In any event, I left about 35 of my 75 balls and, with a deflated, slumped over pace, quickly raced to my car. I will try your fixes/analysis and see what happens. Thanks.

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Gary C.

The video is great and I can see it being very helpful to most everyone, but the article sent in by Don P from Pa. brought back memories from 30 years ago. I had the worst case of shanks ever. I would not only shank all my irons, but I would hit my fairway woods in the heel. So I’m a left handed golfer ( 2 handicap) hitting all my irons left and all my fairway woods off the heel right. I was too embarrassed to play or ask for help. Back then we didn’t have computers and websites with Herman Williams to provide all the possible options to cure the shanks. What Don P said about focusing inside the ball and Herman Williams said about trying to whiff brought back memories of how I overcame the shanks years ago. That’s right, I’ve got them again. I read the article last night after struggling for about two weeks and it was so clear what I had to do. I went to the range today and started the healing. At address I set my iron to where only about half an inch of it was behind the ball and I hit every ball in the center of the club. It takes a lot of nerve and trust at first, but that’s what works for me. I will continue to address the ball this way until I get my confidence back, and eventually I guess I will sub- consciously wind up behind the ball again. It worked before (for me) and I’m sure it will again. Giving up is not an option, it’s just too great a game. Thanks Don P & Herman Williams for jogging my memory.

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Herman Williams

Thanks for joining in the conversation, Gary. Glad you found some help here and continued good luck to you. – Herman

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Matt B.

These creeped up on me a couple of months ago and I finally gave in and took a lesson (I’ve been playing 15 years and have never had one). He identified my problem immediately and said that I was over-rotating my backswing. That’s to say I wasn’t really taking the club straight back and straight through, so I wasn’t able to square my club face at impact – hence I’d shank it.

Granted I just had this lesson today, but a good drill that seemed to work was I’d place the ball with a tee just to the right of it. The object: don’t hit the tee. It seemed to work so far. He’d also suggested that I move my hands a bit more to the inside on my downswing.

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John P.

Hello Herman,

Great article. I was hoping you might be able to provide me with some insight as to why the dreaded shank appears every once in a while for me. I only shank from the rough … and it can happen with any club from Gap Wedge – 6 iron. I’ve checked my swing path with the head cover and it appears fine. When I’m in the short grass I hit good shots, but for some reason I get into deeper rough and I shank. Very embarrassing, I would appreciate any tips you may have.

Thank you.

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Herman Williams

It’s a bit of a guess without seeing you in action, but my suspicion would be an over-the-top type of downswing path in an effort to chop the ball out of the rough. Increased grip and arm tension tends to cause this outcome when we get ready to “bear down” on a tough shot.

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Sue Simmons

Herman,
I play almost daily on an Executive course (usually scoring mid way between par and bogey) and suddenly developed a shank, mostly on my hybrids, although it seemed to be spreading to my irons as well. After a week of really embarrassing golf, I was able to fix the problem right away by watching your videos. It seems that after starting to play tennis again, I started to swing over-the-top and hit my hybrids and some irons “out to in” resulting in shanks, and then overcompensate and hit with a severe “in to out” path, also resulting in shanks, making me really confused – like I had forgotten how to ride a bicycle. I almost hit the pin twice on tee offs on my last outing, and didn’t shank a single time. I’m now looking at your lag and release videos. Thanks so much!!!

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Herman Williams

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Sue. Glad my tutorials helped you out of those dreaded shanks … they’re no fun. – Herman

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Don P

Herman,
It’s winter here in Pa and I was just reviewing some thoughts of this past summer/season while re-gripping my irons. Late in the season, after not having a single issue with shanking the ball for years, I developed a horrible case of the shanks out of no where. I practice a lot, just trying to groove my swing and get a comfortable timing to my swing… this seems to be my most effective practice method. I couldn’t get rid of the shanks…but it was only with my irons…all of them. I read on an obscure web site that talked about hand eye coordination causing shanks. How the brain wants to move the shaft of the club to the back of the ball. instead of the center of the club face. I am a solid 4 handicap at my course and this thought had never occurred to me… but the reasoning seemed solid. And when trying to get past the shanking…this was the only thing that actually helped me. I tried putting tees up to make a gate… I tried putting a head cover and boards beyond the ball…. not of it helped. What helped me was where I was focusing. And it was a sincere struggle to do it consistently. I needed to look 3/4 to 1 inch inside of the ball (closer to my body) when swinging. this seemed to be where the hosel of my club head was traveling. And within 2 or three swings… the shanks disappeared!!! it as amazing. I can’t even explain how I felt to hit the center of the golf face again. I did this…the re-focus on a piece of grass inside of the ball, for about 2-3 weeks….and then slowly went back to looking at the back/center of the golf ball while swinging. I didn’t hit another shank all fall.
wondering of you have ever recommended this…or is anyone else has tried this method… it worked for me.

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Herman Williams

Hi Don. Glad you got it fixed. “Yes” that is definitely a viable technique and one we’ve used in stubborn cases. Sometimes even going as far as trying to intentionally whiff the ball on the inside track like you said by looking at a blade of grass or tee sitting inside of the ball location. It often takes a shocking change to get these difficult to feel problems out of a swing. Thanks for sharing your comment. – Herman

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Brian D

WOW! I was suffering from a sudden attack of the shanks and was getting really upset. I rebuilt my grip, piece by piece, per your instruction and went out to the garage range. I started crushing the ball…absolutely smashing it every time…and STRAIGHT. It appears the core problem was my right hand (right handed player) being waaaay too weak, underneath the grip. Now with neutral left hand and MUCH strong(er) right hand, the club head no longer flies outward into the impact zone (AKA, shankville) and now drives straight INTO and down into the ball. THANK YOU!! I can’t wait to go to the range to check distances. I may have to recalibrate my irons….I think some extra distance has been “discovered”.

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Herman Williams

Glad you got that grip straightened out and got out of shankville! :) thanks for stopping by and commenting. – Herman

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Jim Battinus

I too had a case of shanks last year. Before last year, I had an occasional shank but nothing like the 20 additional strokes caused by not only these shanks but by worrying about them every shot, including making a shank swing with the driver.

After watching Herman more than a few times and going back to the fundamentals he talked about, I found that my grip had gradually weakened. Once strengthening my grip and insurance my back swing wasn’t to the inside, voila – no more shanks.

Thanks so much Herman

Jim Battinus
Evanston, Illinois

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Herman Williams

Thanks Jim, Looks like we stopped the shanks for a bunch of folks here lately. Glad I could help and thanks again for following my work. Tell your friends. – Herman

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winn Evans

If your right hand was too weak… wouldn’t it be too far over the club?

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Herman Williams

Yes, for a right-handed golfer a grip that is too weak in the right hand is moving it over to the left until the “V” points left of your chin.

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Paul

Herman that tutorial and video cured my swing in approx 10 mins!
No bull s**t. When I was younger I played golf regularly and got down to 9 hcp. Over the past 10 years I play approx 10 times a year due to family commitments. I have always been able to play to around my hcp or at least a 14 / 15. This year I haven’t played much and we have a charity golf event I play in every year. I managed to get out for a round the week before and I was shanking the ball even with long irons. I went to the driving range and kept occasionally hitting shanks with long irons and sand wedge etc. Couldn’t figure it out! Watched your video in desperation as I was teeing off this morning at 12 pm. Watched the video and practiced with having an object other side of the ball for literally 10 swings. Walked on to the course and shot 33 points playing off 9 hcp and only having played 5 times this year and having a swing a week before that was hitting an erratic shank.
All I can say is thanks.. Anyone out there listen to the video and tutorial.. It helped me and hopefully I can remember this in the future!! Many thanks a relieved golfer? Paul

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BrianK

Herman, You saved me!

I was playing great toward the end of this summer. I got my index down to 6.4 on my course and I was developing great confidence in my short irons… my short irons were suddenly going another 10-15 yards. I was conscious of the fact that I was more actively trapping/compressing the ball, but I didn’t have a ‘road map’ for the move.

THEN!, out of the clear blue (isn’t it always?) I had a shank attack, two or three per game that would totally take me off my game (mentally) and of course screw up any chance of scoring a good round.

I thought (as you mentioned) that I was coming across the ball with an open face, so thinking I needed to confirm this, I googled something like: high speed camera, what causes golf shank. I saw your video and quickly realized you knew what you are talking about, so I watched the video several times.

I was in the third group and was somehow changing something in my swing that had me dumb-founded. In the past, to help with shanks, I would use the swing thought of holding a glove under my left armpit, and it would usually help.

However, your swing thought of swinging down the toe line makes a much better swing thought along with producing crisper, straighter shots.

I am saving the best for last as the best part of this is that you gave me a ‘road map’ for the secret move that I had worked into my swing and then lost. When I saw the way you were holding your right hand down on your left hand in the downswing, I had a eureka moment, and I said: that’s it, that’s the move. Now it’s mine again, Yeah Baby!

Yesterday, I made a trip to the range, hit a large bucket and re-found my short iron confidence, not one S_____ shot Today, I played 18 and was scoring well (just missed keeping it in the 70′s) not one S _____.

Thanks Herman

Brian

Brian

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Herman Williams

Great job, Brian! Excellent description of both the screwup and the fix … hope you have continued success. – Herman

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Ted

Spent 2 days playing the worst golf of my life .As a 17 handicap i shanked so many shots I was embarrassed.
Watched your video and all I did was to go back to a neutral grip .In an effort to get more length I was showing more knuckles on my left hand and the right hand was underneath ,it caused shanks

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Herman Williams

Glad you got it fixed, Ted. Thanks for checking in. – Herman

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Bob S.

Herman,

Use to play to a 0-3 handicap when younger, now a senior player still capable of shooting in the 70′s. Recently my back was bothering me and in favoring it I was opening up or clearing my left side too much and also too quick which resulted in throwing my hands out to the right. Took your advice on a little bump with the left hit towards the target and it made all the difference. Hit 70 balls on the range and everything was flush and in the center of the club face, great advice, thanks.

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Herman Williams

Thanks, Bob, glad to hear this helped. – Herman

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Jim Battinus

What a great video. I started shanking just this year while trying to ‘hold off’ the iron swing and hit cut shots. I was besides myself until I saw this video telling me about needing to turn the left hand down and get the right hand over the top into contact with the ball. Thanks so much!!!

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Jim Spaw

Herman, I just read your article and video on shanking. THANKS so much! I am a solid 8 and have been shanking 3 or 4 irons a round for the last couple weeks. Just got back from range and did not shank one single ball out of a large bucket. Finally looking forward to my next round

Jim

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Kyle Dureska

Hey Herman,

I will occassionally go to an instructor to fine tune my swing and was playing solid golf this summer shooting an 84 the last good round I shot, and the very next day I go out and cant hit it off the ground and or am shanking it very badly. I went and my instructor said my club face was wide open and began hitting better, but do not know what is going on with my swing going from shooting an 84 to probally not even shoooting a 70 on nine! I would really appreciate any advice that you would be willing to share with me. Thanks again.

Best,
Kyle

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Tim Haas

Didn’t Jerry Barber come out With a set of “shankless” or shank proof irons? Of course I don’t know how they worked but have seen pictures.

Do you ever advise players to go with a lot of short lofted woods and get rid of as many irons as they can?

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Herman Williams

Tim, you are correct … Barber did market a set of shank proof clubs with modified hosels. I would advise short lofted woods for a player intimidated by irons, low ball hitter or very weak player but not just because they are shanking. I normally think i can fix the shanking and keep using the irons.

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Tom Gardner

Herman great post on the shanks!! I also am a former basketball player (left handed sharp shooter) but play golf right handed. I feel like i know Ken as I have had a few shanks here and there. Most of my shanks happen when I try to jump on a club. Where my friends are hiring hybrids – I’m usually hitting 7 irons. Not sure if I’m over swinging or they can’t hit the ball? But being an exceptional athlete I was wondering if there are any drills to need to work on? Or just club down and swing smoother?

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Tom Gardner

Herman,

I love the tips regarding the shanks! I wanted to ask a few other items of concern with my playing group . We gamble a little but we have 1 person who loves to roll the ball even in the rough. He looks like Wayne Gretzky handling a hockey puck. Also, he is never ready to hit. Plus when he places his ball down, on green he places it 2 inches forward of his mark. Not sure he he thinks we can’t see this. But how would you address this? Do we need to have an intervention with him?

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Herman Williams

I’m not in the habit of giving this type of advice, but I’d intervene if it were my group. I’d probably address it away from the golf course one on one maybe in the parking lot after a round. In front of the 4-some there’s no way for him to save face. But on the other hand, you may not think that’s much of a loss if he’s cheating.

I’d probably say something like: “You may have always played this way, but the way you move the ball and mark the ball is giving you an advantage that none of the rest of us have. Plus it falls outside the rules of golf, so there is no way to enforce the rules in a match. It’s unfair to the group and we’d like it to stop.”

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Ken Cunningham

Dear Herman,
I play in a regular group with three other guys. One of the guys plays basketball left-handed and plays golf right-handed. Could this be the cause of the shanks that he is experiencing? It’s almost like he should be hitting from the other side becasue most of his golf shots are going dead right. When I tried to explain this to him, he was offended. Do you think I should keep my comments to myself?
Thank you.

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Herman Williams

Ken, you can lead them to water, but you can’t make ‘em drink. :) A left handed person playing right handed golf can be more susceptible to dominating the downswing with a pulling motion thru the left arm. This can lead to leaving the face wide open and may cause the club to go off-plane enough the shank it. It’s also possible he has the face very open prior to impact and is throwing the clubhead outside abruptly in an effort to square it. I doubt I’d make them switch to left-handed golf, but i would look at a few of these ideas to stop shanking.

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dave

Thanks for the tips on shanking I have a great friend of mine Tom G. that struggles with the shanks on a regular bases. He often will hit the golf dead right in the woods and then ends up looking for the ball for what seems like hours and and slows up play forthe entire courder- Aftet I told him about your web site he watch it he is only shanking the ball once a round or so . Great tip – thanks

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NIck Evans

Herman

Interesting article and I dare say the answer to my problem is in there somewhere.

I would welcome your thoughts though. I play off 12 and recently purchased some new irons which were custom fitted at the Belfry. I have therefore gone from a regular flex to stiff shafts and have started hitting a hideous shank every now and then with 4-6 irons. Never hit one before in my life.

I tend to hit a draw / hook off the tee. Flat swing apparently. Irons usually fairly reliable. Occassional block but never a fade.

So are the new stiff shafts to ‘blame’ and which of your three issues should I be looking at ?

Thoughts ?

Nick

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Herman Williams

Nick, I have seen stiffer shafts initiate this problem before, but it could also relate to club weight or any variable that makes the clubs feel different.

Flat swingers who draw the ball are susceptible to this in general since the path is moving the clubhead away from the body outward thru impact and the potential rolling or closing of the face shoves the hosel outward even more.

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Nick Evans

Thanks Herman.

I hit a few with the pro at my club yesterday evening. No shank in sight obviously. Aside from the flat swing issue he seemed to think that the problem was to do with pushing forward onto my toes through the swing. So need to concentrate on better balance and weight transfer…and not falling over hopefully.

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Herman Williams

Good … glad you got the help you needed.

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John K.

Herman,

How about the nasty chip shot shank?! The little chips just off the green should be so simple, but the ball goes squirting off to the right. What is the fundamental cause and fix for this? Thanks!

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Herman Williams

John, these shanks are normally a takeaway problem. The swings are so short if the takeaway gets off track there is not enough time or space for recovery. Be sure to measure off to the ball so you have a little space for the arms to swing … too often we see the hands right up against the thighs with no room to swing. Next make sure you swing straight back without rolling the forearms or hinging the wrists. Hinging or rolling early tends to make the arms drift outward away from the body and they stay out there for the rest of the swing. Another possibility is in transition where the arms reroute on a more outward path coming down and finally there is the scooping possibility mentioned in #3 of my shanking article. Hope this helps. – Herman

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John K.

Herman, Thanks for quick response. One follow-up, please; when you say “measure off to the ball” do you simply mean standing somewhat farther away from it? Or is it more definitive, like positioning the ball more towards the toe of the club? Thanks. John K.

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Katie

Hi Herman,
I’m still fairly new to golf, but I’ve been playing pretty steady for over a year now. This game is kind of addicting. I tend to shank the ball about every other round. Someone told me that I was coming “over the top” and that’s why I’m shanking it. What exactly does coming over the top mean? And I also read and assumed that coming over the top led to sliced shots and not shanks or hooks and pull hooks like I struggle with.
Thanks for your help,
Katie, 27 handicap

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Herman Williams

Katie – check this video of mine about coming over the top:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_zCVTu_65A&feature=related

This article may be good as well.
http://www.hermanwilliamsgolf.com/golf-blocking-lesson-to-stop-push-shot-golf/

Good luck – Herman

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Krish

Thank you! Tried your idea…belong to the third category as I suspected! Made sure that my right hand (lefty golfer) was facing down to make sure that I did not flip the club as I was trying to create a lag!

Thank you for helping thousands of golfers with your lessons online!

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Dean

Herman: You saved my golf game. I’ve been a six handicap for years but the last 2 – 3 years have been battling the shanks. I belong to a club and let’s just say it is flat out embarrasing. Your cause # 3 was spot on. Nothing I’ve found before identified that issue. If I concentrate on making sure my left knuckles are facing the ground as they approach my right thigh, I can trap the ball and hit the tight draw that I used to rely on. Can’t thank you enough!

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Krish

Hi Herman: First of all, Thank you for posting a unique perspective on Shanking! All, I heard was the first two scenarios from all the pros….exaggerated outside in or inside out! It did not make sense I am decent golfer..(bogey golfer)…main issue is mid irons! Suddenly started shanking last week…lo & behold, was working with improving lag to increase consistency & distance!

Your idea definitely looks like my problem…..interesting that it happened more with my 5 iron rather than my shorter irons! I am going to work on the drill you suggested!

hope & pray it solves my problem….really want to lower my score with the new swing with the lag!

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Jimmie J

Sir Williams,
I’m an 11.8 handicap. I play 12 months out of the year here in sunny California. Without fail, about every three months I get the shanks for three to four straight rounds. Makes me go crazy, but I love the game too much to give up on it even after 12 shanks in a row with my buddies watching, I want to pull a Roy McAvoy and break all 13 clubs except my 7 iron. So during my recent bout with the shanks, a scratch golfer told me he thought I look good on my backswing, but on my downswing I am dropping or dipping my body a lot. Video evidence backed him up. Could this dipping be the cause of my battle with the shanks?
Thanks,
Jimmie

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Herman Williams

That’s possible as you will then be closer to the ground and hence closer to the ball with no room to extend the arms fully into impact without hitting the hose. It’s possible you can still dip down as long as you keep your hands out in front of the shaft with a bowing in the lead wrist. Look at part 3 in the shanking info as it might apply to you. Good luck. – Herman

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Paul

Hi Herman
I have been playing golf for 35 years and can honestly say in all that time I have never hit a shank. A month ago I had a lesson with the local pro to solve a pull problem that has been plagueing my game for a while. His advice was to 1) change the grip by moving both hands to the right as my grip was too strong 2) cocking my risks more so that the grip is pointing at the ground on the backswing which would result in more leverage and a taking a bigger divot. The result of the changes has been the introduction of a shank with all irons which I cannot get rid of! Even reverting to my old grip has not stopped the problem! Any advice?
Paul

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Rick

I have always been an exagerated inside out player and was unable to stop despite numerous professional lessons. Obviously I’ve earned my PhD in how to shank a golf ball over the last several years. I was seriously considering giving up the game because of my increasing frustration of pushing my driver left (I’m a lefty) and the complete inability to hit a wedge without shanking it. Your video has been a game changer for me! I’ve weakened my grip to get my left hand more on top of the club and used your “box” method to help correct my swing path. Additionally, I’ve tried to feel my left elbow scraping my abdomen on my downswing. What a difference! Thanks so much!

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Herman Williams

Glad to hear it Rick.

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metrybill

This is from a 50+ year player, still single digit, who has had several bouts of the ..anks, aka Chinese pitchout. The most prevalent reasons are standing too close to the ball and too much inside out swing path. Go Pavlovian, biofeedback.

Buy, borrow, and otherwise bring a 2″ x 4″ of almost any length to the practice tee. Line it up parallel to the target, barely right of the target.

Pick your target, and place the ball approx. 1/2″ to 1″ inside (your side of ) the board, the leading edge (bottom of the club, not the top of the club) perpendicular to the board and dead on to the target.

If you are swinging too far in-to-out, or too much on top of the ball (out-to-in, casting and/or too steep) you will hit the 2″x4″. The “jolt” will make you figure it out and you will learn. None of us wants that jarring, hosel first contact.

metrybill

Metrybill

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Adam J

Herman – Thanks for the website tips and especially the video. I have the shanks, but only with my wedges. I can hit 7-8 irons cleanly, but take out a PW and it’s shanksville. My “good” shots are mostly contacting toward the heel but not on the hosel. I’m doing something (stance, distance from the ball, swing path, etc) on those wedge shots that is unique, and causing the problem. I’m normally taking a 3/4 swing, with my goal being a controlled 80- or 100-yard shot. Guessing cause #3 is the issue–or at least a good place to start working on a fix. Appreciate any feedback–thanks!

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Herman Williams

Adam – very likely #3. One thing to watch our for though on 3/4 wedges is a tendency on abbreviated backswings for the arms to swing back a little more “outside” than normal since there is not much body turn. The hands often will stay outside for the rest of the swing. Be sure to let your chest turn away from the ball in backswing even on small shots and keep those hands close to the body as you come down. then it’s all about managing the unhinging in the hitting zone so you don’t flip the clubhead outward at the last moment. Good luck. – Herman

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Randy

Hi Herman.

Thank you for this article. I think I may fall into a 4th cause. Ball placement. I’m 6′ 6″ and tend to, at times, address too close to the ball. Hence the dreaded shank. I have to force myself to stand a bit further away from the ball. It seams like I’m too far away from the ball but when I do, I hit the ball flush with just a bit of draw and straight. Is there anything you would suggest to make my setup more consistent? Or is it just practice?

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Herman Williams

Check my setup video for a consistent way to measure to the ball, but “yes” it takes work to get consistent.

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Chris

Herman, I am so glad I found this article! I had been taking lessons for 2 years, fixing multiple flaws in my swing and it now looks really good. But I had been shanking the ball off an on, which was killing my confidence and my scores weren’t really getting any better. I have flaw #3 above, so I went to the range today and tried your fix. I hit balls for 75 minutes with multiple clubs and had ZERO shanks!! In fact, I have never struck the ball so consistently in my life. I’d say 90% of the shots were on the sweet spot! I put some impact tape on the driver and hit 10-15 balls and every one was on the same spot (just a little off center toward the heel).

Thanks again for the clear instruction! I can’t wait to play this weekend to see if I can take it to the course.

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Herman Williams

Excellent … glad to hear it. – Herman

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craig

1 out of 20 shots within 80 yards of the green will go straight right. What am I doing wrong? Now that this has happened, every time I’m in this situation I think in my head that I’m going to hit it straight right, so I move my stance back just to compansate for the thought of going straight right. Please help!

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Herman Williams

If you are only shanking shots from these shorter distances, I suspect you are swinging mostly with your arms and hands and don’t have enough core body turn involved. If this is the case the arms tend to get away from the body and move outward toward the ball during both takeaway and downswing. In other words if your chest does not turn much the arms have nowhere to go but outside away from the body. If the things in my shanking video have not helped, the first move in the takeaway may be where your problem starts. You are likely setting/hinging your wrists early and letting your left arm move away from your chest in the early stages of the takeaway. Then your hands are essentially too far away from your body and they stay out there for the rest of the swing. When you arrive at impact your hands and arms are farther from your body and you shank the shot. Continue standing farther from ball until your confidence improves, but also work on more of a one-piece takeaway with no wrist action (no hinge or rolling early on) and be sure your chest is turning early to get your right shoulder out of the way. If you get your right shoulder back out of the way it’s harder for the arms to fly out and shank the ball. Otherwise go back over the 3 issues in my shanking video. Good luck.

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NJ

Hi Mr. Williams (if you help my shanking you’ll always be Mr. Williams),
A neigbour who’s a golf pro wanted me to cock my wrists more in my backswing and to have more lag in my downswing along with taking more of a divot; result, shanks became quite common in my game. So much so, that I’ve taken a break from playing after 20 years. I’ve tried cures for the type #1 and #2 shanks that you list above, but you are the first that I have seen that lists type #3; the type that I think I have. With my previous “swing” I had a forward press that preset my wrists to be in the impact position you list as being a cure for type #3. I then turned my shoulders while raising my arms a little. I then would rotate my body quickly while keeping my wrists still “preset” in their address position/bend. I think turning my body fast would also pull the wrists towards me in the downswing. I would only shank when I was really tired. After watching you amazing video, I came to fully realize that by following my neighbour’s advice to cock my wrists more in my backswing I was then extending them out towards the ball in the downswing. I noticed too that this extending also caused me to straighten my right elbow. Thank you so much-I learned all this from your video and the replies you made to others. I’m guessing you might suggest I go back to my old “preset wrists” method or stick with my neighbour’s advice to cock my wrists more, but to then set them properly before impact as you demonstrate in your video. You realize you’ve earned a spot in heaven by helping us shankers!

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Herman Williams

It sounds like you are now a lot more self aware about what’s been happening in your swing. Your final couple of sentences are spot on. The wrist hinge may be safe as long as it does not cause your arms to run away from you. If so go back to old technique. We tend to see that run away happen even in the takeaway as players start hinging more than they are accustomed to in the backswing. The left arm drifts away from body on the way back and then tends to remain out there for the rest of the swing. Good luck and thanks for the compliments.

Herman

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NJ

Thanks again-it’s been a year long break right after I got my second hole in one. Shanking is frustrating because one minute you are playing great and the next minute not so much-lol; just ask Web Simpson. Herman I’m also impressed that you focus not just on the back swing, but the entire swing. Many coaches get you to do all sorts of things in the backswing and then don’t really understand issues these things cause in the follow through. I hope to see you on the Golf Channel soon; I’m up in Canada so I’m a bit too far away for lessons. cheers and Merry Christmas!

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Eugene Murphy

Hello Herman,

I have never established an official handicap but I shoot in the mid to low 70′s. I have a tendency to shank balls but for some reason it comes and goes. Usually it shows up and I’ll have to fight through it for a month or so and then it will disappear for several months. I have battled this for years largely because I’ve never been able to determine the cause. After reading this article, I am confident I fall into your third reason category.

The question I have for you is what can I do to work on the release you speak of? Is there a specific drill or will it come naturally from the grip change (I am assuming I will have to make a grip change to perform this release).

Thank you for taking my questions and thank you for this terrific site.

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Herman Williams

Thanks, Eugene. I’m not sure I have a magic drill but you should definitely check my article and video on right wrist action in the golf swing. You basically want to improve your downswing lag, but do it in a way that keeps the back of your left hand facing down toward the ground with a slightly closed clubface before impact. This will help you prevent scooping and throwing your wrists outward toward the ball. If you just lift your left arm into a backswing by itself and then visualize brushing your right thigh while the back of your hand falls toward the ground you’ll be making the right move. If you pull real hard with left side it will fly out with the back of your hand facing up. Then you will scoop at the ball to try and rescue the shot. Good luck. I hope this helps.

Herman

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Alan

I am still shanking Herman, despite trying your advice. I think I may
have a weight transfer problem, because I find that when I take my
my normal stance and then lift my right heel off the ground, I do not
shank but instead hit the ball really solid. To me this indicates a
weight shift problem as the raised right heel eliminates the weight
shift. I am going to try to get a video to you for analysis, once I work
out how to do it. Regards Alan.

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Joe L

Herman,

I have been playing for about 6 months. I am breaking driver heads off at the hosel at a high rate. 3 within 4 months. I have a slice and I try to kill the ball even when I know I shouldnt. Do you think I am hitting the ball at the hosel or at the shaft? I must correct this issue quickly because I am trying to get serious about my game. But at this rate who can afford it.

Thanks,

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Herman Williams

You probably have some of both going on. With high swing speed, constant heel strikes can still cause the clubhead to basically wring the shaft off at the neck. You probably do have a few that struck directly on the shaft as well. Sounds like your swing path is outside the proper plane and too steep. I doubt you want to hear this, but I would try to groove a better motion with irons before even attempting a driver.

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James

Hey Herman,
Thanks for the great videos! I’m a 14 handicap and I’m usually pretty solid, but lately I’ve been shankapotimous. A local college player noticed today at the range that I am forward pressing way way too much at address with my shaft leaning really far forward and my wrists hinged back pretty good. Could this be a cause of all my shanks lately? Your golf thoughts please.
Thank you kindly,
-JJ

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Herman Williams

Definitely. With a big forward press you have created angles that may throw your backswing offline and also will throw off your actual measurement to the ball. If you look at what happens when the hands are very far forward, the angle shortens the distance from your shoulder to the ball. In other words, with the shaft centered at setup and arms straight you should be standing farther from the ball than you would with a hinged angle at the wrists. It’s pretty likely when you return to impact you are throwing all that setup angle away and the club is returning to its naturally straight impact position and the new extended length creates the shank. BUT also be very aware that the forward press can create serious swing path problems too that could be just as big a deal for you. Watch my setup videos and even my beginner golf video on YouTube to get a good look at best possible setup and simple swing path that goes straight back and straight thru. Good luck.

Herman

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William

I sometimes shank so your article was very interesting. I have started to consciously lead with my left elbow on the down swing and turn the left wrist to square the club. I think I may not be squaring early enough and also letting the right hand dominate too much an pushing the club head out. In ever thought about putting the right hand palm down on the shaft. Mine is more vertical than that. I am worried that rolling the right hand on top of the shaft might lead to flipping (an old old problem).
Comment?

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Herman Williams

Thanks, William. I wouldn’t expect you to start flipping unless you get the face open and start slicing. If you have the left wrist bowed and right wrist bent back and on top of the shaft, you will have the face squared up well in advance of impact with lag going down the line. This should take care of shanking and flipping since they are really tied together anyway. Good luck.

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Mike

Hi Herman,

This past Saturday I had one of the better round of the year, shooting an 81. I then went to my usual Wednesday range session yesterday and shanked my way through an entire jumbo sized bucket (175 balls)…infuriating! Needless to say any confidence I had been feeling from Saturday is now gone in advance of my tee time this Saturday morning.

I believe that my problem may be a severe case of the 3rd reason for shanking that you describe, an incorrect rolling/scooping of the hands. I think that I have always done this, except when I am on the course, I compensate with a somewhat over-the-top action near the ball that allows me to square the club face and strike the ball somewhat decently (though not with great distance). When I am on the range, I tend to focus more on what I feel should be the correct swing path (i.e., club attacking the ball from just slight inside the plane), which leads to shank after shank. Does this sound like it could be an accurate diagnosis? Do you have ideas for a few drills that could help me rid of this habit? It’s honestly all I think about at the range, and I am screaming at myself to keep the right hand facing downward and tracking along the toes, but physically I just can’t seem to get there. Thanks for any help, I really appreciate it.

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Herman Williams

I think you nailed it on the self-diagnosis. Slicers and over-the-top players usually toe the ball because the path causes the club to be pulled toward the body through impact. Conversely an inside out player with the scoop runs the risk of having the clubhead shoved outward into the hosel at the last moment before impact. The palm facing down may only be part of the equation for you. I find most guys with this problem get the right elbow to fall near the hip but then let the arm straighten as the elbow moves outward thrusting the arm toward 1st base and the hosel. Try to feel your right elbow scrape along your stomach thru impact and finish left. The swing ultimately needs to be on a path that is “in to in.” Good luck with it and thanks for following my work. – Herman

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Mike

Thanks for the quick reply Herman. I think I need to seriously re-think my entire swing plane approach. I just got done at the range, and I focused the whole time on swing plane. Essentially I envisioned that to start the downswing, I was staying behind the ball and pulling the handle straight down toward the ball, almost as if the motion of my swing was going out toward first base. From there, my next thought was firing and clearing my hips and pulling my arms through. At first this felt weird to me, because it almost felt as if I was trying to hit the ball right. However, I actually ended up hitting a nice subtle draw. Do you think this is an OK thought process?

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Herman Williams

That should work fine … firing, clearing and pulling through is the perfect description after getting the club “slotted” coming down.

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Kobus

Excellent explanation n the rotation of the hands before impact! My right hand kicked forward causing me to shank ( own video) , but I was lost on how to fix it. ( 7 handicap gone wrong, now a 12 going out !)
The “right hand on top of the shaft” is not easy to get used to, should I first hit half shots only? I still tend to shank occasionally when hitting a full shot.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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Herman Williams

Half shots only is strongly recommended to get more deliberate control of the moves before adding more speed. Just keep that palm down and tracking in a fairly straight line over your toes on forward swing. Good luck.

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TJ

Herman – I am a inside out shankar I believe. I typically hit a high right to left draw but these past two weeks I have began shanking the ball. The problem has moved from my wedges into my longer irons (6 iron).

My swing feels and looks fine to all who have seen it. I’ve never been so frustrated with my golf swing. Any advice on how I can stop coming so far inside out? It just seems I am in the minority here as most people are outside in shankers.

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Herman Williams

Visualize the opposite swing shape and try to pull the handle into your left hip creating a finish that is “low and left.” Inside out with a scooping motion will hit that high push draw followed by shanking you are seeing. So now you want to create a feeling of being over the top with lag to re-center your swing.

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Bobby Wooten

Herman,

I am a big fan of your teachings and website. Quick w
Question; I am a low handicapper that will usually shoot anywhere from 69 to 75 during most 18 hole rounds. During the last year or so, when I am under pressure in a big tournament I have started to hit some shanks. It can be with any iron. I know you haven’t seen my swing but can you offer any thoughts?

Thanks a million. Bobby Wooten

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Herman Williams

Thanks Bobby. This will really be a guess, but if you are getting “tight” under pressure, you will likely make a shorter backswing and then come over the top just a little bit on downswing. Maybe enough to shank it. Wouldn’t know for sure though without seeing your swing. – Herman

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Alan

I like your instruction and videos, very well presented. I am in
New Zealand and took up golf late at 50. I have been able to maintain
a single figure handicap since then. I don’t often shank on the course but
when I start practising I frequently do. I have been to a couple of
professional instructors, but they have been unable to pin point the problem, since I rarely do it when I visit the professional. I have been
told that I fall towards the ball in my downswing and find if I keep my
weight on my heels it helps. Another professional, a Canadian who was
working here temporarily with professional golfers told me that my
arms tend to outrace my body on the downswing. I have never had
a lot of lag in my swing which I have wondered might have something
to do with it. I would really appreciate any comment.

Regards Alan.

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Herman Williams

Alan,
First I might not recommend getting too far back on your heels. The only direction you are likely to go after that is toward the ball to catch your balance and keep from going over backwards in a downswing. You won’t likely go farther back on your heels in a swing like that. So if you are neutral on your feet or toward balls of feet, you may actually be less inclined to “fall” or move toward the ball.

Next, you need to look at casting. It is very common for casters to shank the ball as the throwing move shoves the clubhead not just downward but also outward. The information in this post and video talks about how getting the clubface too open or the right hand underneath the shaft in the downswing will lead to this mid downswing scoop that throws the hosel out into the ball. Work on getting your right hand/right palm facing more downward during the downswing so your right palm is facing the ground earlier with right wrist bent back. This will require less last-second rolling or flipping to hit square shots. Watch the video and article again closely for this info and check out my article and video on right wrist action in the golf swing. Good luck. – Herman

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Alan

Thanks for the information Herman, I will certanily include it in
my practise sessions. My brother and I are going to get your
video analysis as soon as we can organise a proper camera.

Regards Alan

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Dave Flansbaum

Hi Herman,
Love all your videos, I’m in Oregon, wish I was closer so I could get lessons from you. I’m 65 and a 13 handicap. Took up golf at age 50 and had lessons from the beginning. Was taught to come from the inside and hit a draw. The last 5 years I’ve been plagued by shanks that show up late in the round, usually when I’m playing fantastic. Could be 6 months between shanking periods which can last a few weeks.After the round, when I try to get with my instructor to solve the problem, I can’t hit a shank if my life depended on it. Frustrating!
Using liquid chalk to mark the ball and therefore the clubface when I start hitting these shanks, I’ve determined that the clubface is moving further out when these shanks occur. Addressing the ball with a 1 to 2 inch gap solves the problem for the rest of the round. To summarize, prior to the round, addressing the ball on the center of the clubface results in a center hit. As the round progresses, the club face seems to move further from my body to the point where I might start hitting the ball consistently in the heel/hosel. Can you make a recommendation or point me to one of your videos?

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Herman Williams

Thanks for watching and commenting. I do have an article and video here: stop shanking.

Several possibilities exist. You may be losing your posture thru impact with your core and right hip moving toward the ball which takes away space for the right elbow. You likely have an over-pronounced in-to-out path with the club running away from you toward right field based on your background description of learning to draw it. Good players usually shank the ball on an inside/out path with a closing face. Also the face can simply be closing too fast which rolls the neck outward toward the ball. But be practical … if setting up with the ball on the toe helps, do it ’til you get things figured out. – Herman

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Rod McCall

Herman, i was hoping you could help me? I was once a good golfer, but i have had neck and my 2nd back surgery about a year ago. now the problem i was having b4 i went down was during my backswing my right hand would separate from my left. ( i am a rh player i hope u can visualize this where my right hand thumb pad starts separating from on top of my left thumb.) hope u can give me some insight!

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Herman Williams

Thanks for comment. Definitely check my grip article here on the blog and flat wrist article and corresponding photos and videos. You want to consider that possibly your right hand/wrist is not bending back (dorsiflexion) in the backswing. The right wrist not only hinges but it also bends back similar to the position of a waiter supporting a tray of dishes on right palm. If the back of the right wrist stays “flat” in backswing, it won’t hinge very far and tends to make the hand separate from the club. Also when we lose range of movement in the pivot (back and neck surgery?), we often make up for it somehow with the armswing trying to recover the lost arc. You may be lifting your right elbow into an odd position (usually right elbow too high & behind the body) that also makes it very hard to keep your right hand attached. Good luck. Hope this helps. – Herman

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