Fri. May 24th, 2024

The Real Causes Of A Shank (Heel) Or Toe Shot In Golf

By admin Apr29,2024

There are many myths surrounding the cause of a shank (heel) or toe strike in golf. This article is going to explain the real cause behind these shots.

I’m going to share info that hasn’t been discussed before, so buckle up and get your thinking cap on.

 

Before We Read On

If you haven’t read my Ebook, “Golf Hacks” – a quick and easy guide to fixing

  • shanks,
  • toes,
  • fats,
  • thins,
  • slices,
  • hooks, as well as
  • practicing better and improving on-course strategy –

I’m giving it away FREE!!!

Just pop in your email below, and continue to read this blog. The book will be sent to your email.

 

What It’s Not

There are so many myths around this topic – this is why most golfers struggle to improve.

I recently asked

“what causes a shank?”

and had every answer from “early extension” to “someone mentions the word “shank””. Some popular ideas were that shanks were caused by

  • club path being too out-to-in or in-to-out
  • face being too open or closed

I link to articles at the end of this post which debunk those. Bottom line – you can have a wide array of face and path combinations and still hit the sweet spot – how do you think pros shape shots?

The above image shows you can have any combination of path and strike

 

So, What Is It?

Rather than blaming it on anecdotal things like “I just didnt feel confident” or other voodoo-like events, I like to think in terms of geometry – as geometry is the same for everyone.

What actually causes a shank or toe shot then?

Well, the biggest influences can be one of two things.

  • Shaft pitch changes
  • Hand distance (in 3 dimensional space) from the ball

I like to know that, if I change something, it will have a 100% success rate. Changing one of the above (on an “all else being equal” level) will do that.

So, with that said, let’s explore each.

 

Shaft Pitch Changing

In the below picture, we see a ball in the center of the face, and a club with a 60 degree angle.

Now, assume that we keep the grip end of the club the same place in space, but we present the club shaft flatter,

  • the club head moves up (higher from the ground, and
  • the club head moves out (farther from our feet)

As shown below

Golf club 2 degrees flatter heel and thin strike pattern

This will result in a more heel biased pattern, in combination with a thinner contact (lower on the face).

The opposite will be true. If the grip location in space remains the same and the club returns with a steeper shaft angle, we will see

  • the club head enters impact lower (deeper into the ground) and
  • the club head moves in (closer to our feet)

As shown below

golf club 2 degrees more upright toe strike and fat

This will result in a more toe-biased pattern, and a fatter contact.

Below is a comparison of the two sides of the spectrum.

golf club steeper versus flatter lie angle and strike patterns

When this variable alone changes, you are likely to see either a

  • Thin AND heel pattern
  • Toe AND fat pattern

Or something that looks like this on your iron

golf iron strike pattern shaft pitch changing

If this sounds like you – make sure to check out The Strike Plan program to learn to improve it

 

Hand Location In 3D Space

Imagine I’m hitting towards the camera for one moment. What we see (below) in green is the mid-point of the hands on the grip.

mid point of hands on golf club

Let’s take away the body and hands so the visual is clearer – but I will leave the mid-point of the hands in the visual.

mid point of hands on golf club

Now, here’s the key

If the mid point of the hands gets closer to/farther from the ball in 3D space, it will affect the strike patterns

To highlight this, I’m going to use a nice little visual, where I blow the ball up in size so it is the same radius as the sweet spot to hands distance.

golf club sweet spot to hand distance

So, in the above image, we see the mid point of the hands (green) is on the cover of the golf ball.

  • If the hands mid-point moves inside the golf ball at impact you will hit more heel/fat
  • If the hands mid-point moves outside of the golf ball at impact, you will hit more toe/thin

Either way, you won’t be able to find the sweet spot – you’ll be stuck between the heel/fat or toe/thin pattern.

 

Some Examples

Let me show a couple of examples;

In the below image, the hands are closer to the ball (in 3D space), or they have entered the “big ball” (inside the cover).

hands entering closer to the golf ball, heel and fat strike pattern

As a result, the player is stuck between heel (shank) strikes, or they change the pitch of the club and can hit the center, but now it’s super-fat (high on the face).

Here’s a close up – study it

hands entering closer to the ball, heel and fat strike pattern close up

On the other end of the spectrum, if a player’s mid-point of their hands is farther from the ball at impact (outside of the cover of the big ball), they have no choice but to thin or toe it. As the below image shows.

hands farther from ball, thin and toe pattern

And here’s a close up – study it.

hands farther from ball, thin and toe pattern close up

So, if your face-strike patterns look more like this;

fat and heel iron strike pattern from hands being closer to the golf ball at impact

Then you are a player whose hands have “entered the radius”, or are closer to the ball in 3D space than they should be.

Now you are stuck between

  • heel and good ground contact, or
  • centered but fat contact – no bueno.

You need The Strike Plan.

If your strike patterns look more like this;

toe and thin iron strike pattern from hands being farther from golf ball at impact

This means your hands are entering farther from the ball at impact than they should be – outside of the cover of the “big ball”.

You’re now stuck between

  • good ground contact but toe-contact, or
  • centered but thin/bladed. No bueno.

You need The Strike Plan.

 

3D Thinking

Don’t forget, the concept of “hands being closer to the ball” works in three-dimensions.

We also have to think about how the hands being more forwards or back (towards/away from the target) at impact influences it.

This is where our “big ball” visual comes in handy again.

The real raason for shanks and toe shots in golf

In general, if you start with neutral/slightly forward shaft lean at address, then adding more forward shaft lean through the swing will result in the hands being more off-the-cover of the big ball.

Resulting in more of a thin/toe pattern

 

A Pro Combo

Now, I know what you’re thinking….

But, Adam, the pro golfers add shaft lean through the swing and they don’t toe or thin it.

That’s because, as players, we may make multiple swing movements that balance out well – in the case of a pro. So, we may see a pro

  • add shaft lean (which takes their hands farther from the ball), AND
  • have their hands move out farther from their body (green arrow), putting their hands back on the cover of the ball

tiger woods hands moving out shank

In the above image, it looks like Tiger’s hands are on the inside of the ball from this angle. But his hands are more forwards (towards the target, or shaft-lean). So he’s essentially on the cover, on the other-side of the ball.

This is why we need 3D thinking.

On the other side of the argument might be the amateur golfer. If they

  • start with forward shaft lean and reduce it (cast)
  • have their hands move out farther from their body

They have now added TWO things that get their hands closer to the ball – resulting in a shank or fat shot.

 

Mind Blown

I know that’s a lot of information to take in, and your brain might be a little scrambled right now.

Luckily, the way to improve these things is actually pretty simple. Instead of focusing on it from a “problem perspective” (e.g. what is wrong with my swing), we can focus more on a “solutions perspective”, which goes like this…..

What can I add to my existing motion to make the strike patterns better?

In my program, The Strike Plan, I show you how to do this. Click below to learn more.

 

Summary

  • Changing the pitch of the club (given the same hand location in space) will create a diagonal pattern on the face that is
    • higher and on the toe, or
    • lower and on the heel
  • Changing hand location in 3D space changes the center of that diagonal pattern
    • hands closer = more heel
    • hands farther = more toe

Note – Where we set up to the ball is also important. The above article assumes you are setting up with the ball in the center of the face.

 

Read More

Why club path doesn’t create poor face strikes CLICK HERE TO READ

Why shanks are not the result of an open face CLICK HERE TO READ

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By admin

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