Why Am I Shanking My Irons? What Causes A Shank Explained!

Several terms keep golfers up at night. Duck hook, chunk, and snap slice come to mind, but nothing is scarier than a case of the shanks!

Why am I shanking my irons? A question that has haunted players since the game started in the 16th century.

We aren’t kidding when we say that it can mentally break a golfer – it can truly ruin your afternoon.

The shank is a unique golf shot. You can be chipping near the green and shank the ball out of bounds. It can come out of nowhere.

One of our favorite golf movies is Tin Cup, and the “shank scene” perfectly summarizes the experience.

In this article, we will cover:

  • What Is A Shank?
  • Why Am I Shanking My Irons? What Type Of Shank Are You Hitting?
  • Why Am I Shanking My Irons? How To Stop Hitting The Hosel – 5 Quick Tips!
  • 3 Top Tips On How To Get The Face Closed

Get ready for the ultimate lowdown on how to stop shanking irons!

Man wearing white cap, white polo and grey trousers hits a golf ball with the words why am I shanking my irons in the foreground.

What Is A Shank?

We can’t answer the question, “Why am I shanking my irons?” without first defining the shot.

A shank is when you hit an iron shot that goes directly to the right (right-handed golfer) with extreme force. It typically results in a lost ball.

It can happen to anyone – don’t believe us? Check out this montage of Shanks on the PGA Tour!

It is such a scary shot that most golfers refuse to say the word out loud – you might hear them say, “I think that was the “s” word.”

If you are playing with a new group, you may want to consider this etiquette – under no circumstance should you say the word “shank.”

How to Stop Shanking My Irons? What Type Of Shank Are You Hitting?

Nothing is simple in golf and this is true when it comes to shanks. It isn’t talked about much, but there are actually two different types of shanks.

We can’t answer, “What causes a shank with irons” until we determine the exact shot you are hitting.

Black and white image of a man with a beard hitting a golf ball with trees behind him.

Here are the two different types of shanks:

Shank #1 – The Hosel Rocket

Let’s pause for a second – the language of golf is quite colorful, but is there a better golf term than “hosel rocket”?

Let’s break it down. A hosel is part of the golf club (irons) where the shaft is inserted into the club head.

If you hit the golf ball with the hosel instead of the clubface, it will shoot to the right (right-handed golfer) with tremendous speed. Thus, the use of the term “rocket.”

The “hosel rocket” is the most common form of the shank. You take a full swing, your ball hits the hosel, and you feel instant sadness.

In fact, you can shank different types of shots. You can shank a full iron shot, a chip shot, and a bunker shot.

Can you hit a “hosel rocket” with a hybrid, fairway wood, or driver? The answer is no – the hosel on these clubs is not pronounced, so there is no way for the ball to hit it.

Shank #2 – Wide Open Club Face At Impact

“Why am I shanking my irons?” – a better question – “Are you actually shanking your irons?”.

The “hosel rocket” is the true definition of a shank, but a wide open club face at impact can feel and look the same.

If you make contact with the golf ball and your club face is wide open, the ball will shoot directly to the right (right-handed golfers). That is why many golfers call this a shank.

Same result, but a different problem and a different solution. We explore how you can solve both below.

Woman wearing a purple and black skirt hits a golf ball down the fairway.

Why Am I Shanking My Irons? How To Stop Hitting The Hosel – 5 Quick Tips!

Instead of asking, “What causes a shank with irons?” let’s focus on “How can I stop shanking my irons?”

Try these 5 tips if your ball is hitting the hosel of your club:

Tip #1: Weight On Your Heels

Why am I shanking my irons? Your weight may be on your toes and this causes you to fall forward during your swing.

If you are falling toward the ball during your swing, what part of the club is getting closer to the ball? You guessed right, the hosel!

If you suffer from the shanks, try moving your weight to the heels of your feet.

Try this on the driving range before you do it on the golf course. It might fix the shanks but cause duck hooks.

The ultimate goal is to get your weight on the balls of your feet, but hitting some shots with it on your heels may help get rid of the “hosel rockets.”

Tip #2: Get Farther From The Ball

Dr. Seuss said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated, but the solutions are simple.”

Maybe he was talking about the shanks?

Your ball is hitting the heel/hosel of your club, so the simple solution is that you are standing too close to the ball.

We like this swing tip – it is easy and quick to try. Have you hit a few shanks? Set up a little farther from the ball and see if that cures your issue.

Man wearing white trousers stands beside a red golf bag hitting a golf ball.

Tip #3: Try To Hit The Toe Of The Club

Why do I shank my irons? You are hitting the hosel of the club. Which part of the club is farthest from the hosel? The toe!

You don’t want to hit shots off the toe forever, but it is a great swing thought to ensure you miss the hosel.

Hit 10 balls trying to hit the toe – once you have done this, go back to trying to hit the center of the clubface. You might start striping the ball!

Tip #4: Relax & Don’t Think About It

Many golfers and teachers think that the shanks are mental – once you start to think about a shank, you are going to hit more of them.

It will take discipline, but simply block the idea of hitting a shank out of your mind. Take a deep breath and make a confident swing.

A tentative or scared swing is more likely to create a shank.

Why do I shank my irons? Because you are thinking about hitting a shank.

Instead of thinking of a “hosel rocket,” visualize a beautiful iron shot tracking towards the pine.

Three golfers stand on the golf course talking about their golf shots.

Tip #5: Go Home!

The last thing you want to do is to groove a swing that is producing a shank. You do not want muscle memory for a shank swing.

With that in mind, if you start hitting shanks on the driving range, switch to your driver (no hosel) or simply go home.

Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. It is better to end your practice session than to continue hitting shanks.

Head home, relax, get golf off your mind, and come back the next day for a fresh start!

3 Top Tips on How To Get The Face Closed

Why am I shanking my irons? What if the answer is, “your not”? You are simply leaving the face wide open at impact.

Here are 3 tips to try:

Tip #1: Slow Down Your Transition (1 & 2)

The golf swing is made of a sequence of events. The most important piece is your transition from backswing to downswing.

A common mistake is getting too quick during your transition when it would be better to have a slight pause.

Why am I shanking my irons? You are “getting quick.” To fix this, try the “1 & 2” drill.

Basically, you are going to count “1 And 2” during your swing. The “1” is your backswing, the “and” is your transition, and the “2” is your downswing.

We love this drill – it can fix many common swing issues.

Man stands in the middle of the fairway wearing shorts after hitting a golf ball.

Tip #2: Stay Back & Don’t Lean

You might be “leaning into the shot.” If your head gets in front of the ball prior to impact, it will be hard to get the club face shut.

The best way to check for this issue is to have your buddy film your swing – pay close attention to your impact position.

Ideally, your head will still be behind the ball. Work on it for 10 minutes and take another video – did your impact position improve?

Tip #3: Slow Motion

If you have tried #1 & #2 but still feel like you are shanking the ball because your clubface is wide open, slow everything down.

Hit 10 balls swinging in slow motion, and pay attention to how the clubface rotates during your swing.

This will help you learn how to deliver the club to the ball correctly. Slowly increase the speed of your swing until you are back at full speed.

Learning to understand and control your clubface can quickly change you from a high handicapper to a scratch golfer!

If you are reading this post, we know you have suffered the sadness and despair of the shanks. We wouldn’t wish that fate on our greatest enemy and we hope it helped!

Up Next: How To Eliminate The Duck Hooks

Photo of author
Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +2 handicap.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.