Why Do I Shank My Irons?

It has happened to many golfers of all skill levels. You step up for a shot feeling confident and then you realize you have a case of the dreaded shanks.

The ball shoots to the right into the woods and your par chance is thrown away.

A lot of golfers, asking themselves, ‘why am I shanking,’ have no clue why it’s happening or how to fix it. This article will explain the causes and different ways to cure the shanks.

What Is A Shank In Golf

A shank is when a player hits the ball and misses the iron clubface instead making contact with the hosel of the club. This makes the ball shoot off to the right and barely go any distance at all. 

When a player is shanking the ball often many people call it a “case of the shanks.” Having the shanks can be a nightmare for a golfer since it is arguably the worst type of shot you can hit.

What Causes A Shank In Golf

Distance Of Hands From Address To Impact

Having your hands in the correct position as well as standing the correct length away from the ball can prevent shanks. If done wrong, it can lead to shanks.

When your hands get further away at impact than they were at address, a shank will likely be the result.

If you stand too close to the ball, it will be easier to open the clubface too much leading to a shank. It also increases your chances of hitting the ball with the heel of the club.

If you stand too far back from the ball, you will be reaching to try and compensate which can lead to being unbalanced and to a shank. Your hands will also be in an awkward position.

📋 Keep in mind: Your arms should be able to hang naturally at address and you should have a gap of an “open hand’s width between your thigh and the butt end of the club.”

Weight On Feet Not Neutral

Not being balanced and not having your weight equally balanced on both of your feet can also cause a shank. If you are leaning too much on one foot it will be a lot easier to make incorrect contact on the hosel and have the ball shoot off.

📢 Need To Know: It is important to keep your weight back towards your heels while you swing. If you’re on your toes and leaning too far forward it can cause problems.

Swing Path

The normal way to hit a golf ball is on a swing path that goes from inside to out of the ball-to-target line.

Golfers mistakenly pull the club away from the swing path on the inside of the takeaway. In order to get the club to make contact they have to come over the top of it.

This makes them swing outside to inside and accidentally hit the ball with the hosel.

Grip Pressure

Another reason that players shank the ball is due to their grip pressure. Some golfers grip the club too lightly causing the club to move while they swing.

Doing this makes it much harder to make proper contact with the ball.

One way to check if your grip is tight enough is to put some grass between the butt of the club and padding of your left hand. Also, put it on top of your left thumb.

The grass should remain there throughout the swing. If it falls down then you know your grip is too loose.

Downswing Slide

A shank can also be caused by a lower body downswing slide. This happens during your swing when your lower body moves too much during the downswing usually attempting to drive the ball further.

The lower body “slides” as the knees bend and move towards the target. This enables the hosel to make contact first with the ball.

How To Stop Shanking Irons

This video drill from legendary golf coach David Leadbetter will teach you how to stop shanking the ball or prevent you from having them.

Below are drills to stop shanking irons, written out with the link underneath.

  • Line up your club’s neck/hosel up with the ball at address.
  • During your downswing, try and make contact with the toe of the iron club.
  • At impact keep your hands closer to your body.
  • If you’re hitting it near the toe, you have no chance of shanking since it is so far away from the hosel.
  • Keep your weight on your heels during your swing.

Some golfers prefer using anti shank irons, specifically designed to reduce the likelihood of this error.


Having the shanks is no fun and can certainly ruin a round of golf or even just a practice session on the range.

After reading this article, you now know how to fix shanks with irons, understanding the causes and different golf shank cures. Be sure to try out the solutions and drills mentioned. If you’ve had the shanks and fixed them share your tips in the comments as well as your thoughts on this article.


Why do I shank irons and not Woods?

You shank irons more than woods because irons are easier to mess up at impact. Woods are designed to be easier to square when impacting the ball. Irons can easily be closed or open too much at impact which causes players to make contact off the toe or hosel. 

Can ball Position cause shanks?

Yes, ball position can cause shanks if you stand too upright then the ball may be too close to your body during your stance. This can cause you too swing too steeply and move the clubface at impact. 

Does swaying cause shanks?

Yes, swaying can cause shanks. If you sway your lower body, it’s easy to not stay on the proper swing path and shank the ball. 

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Lawrence Smelser has been part of the Golfible writing staff since 2019 and is a freelance golf journalist. Smelser has covered the PGA Tour including the U.S. Masters with Augusta.com. He holds a journalism Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s journalism degree from the University of North Texas. Learn more about our team at Golfible on our About Us page.

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