Another Golf Myth Busted – Shanks Caused By Face Direction

Another Golf Myth Busted – Shanks Caused By Face Direction

I’ve heard it a million times;

I shanked it. Must have left the face open on that one

This article explores why this is a myth (with a grain of truth).

While this article focuses on the case of a shank, the information is also relevant to every golfer – even if your pattern is more toe-biased.

 

Before We Start

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We look at how to fix

  • hooks
  • slices
  • toe shots
  • shanks/heels
  • fats
  • thins

Did I mention it’s FREE???

 

Sweet Spots

In the below image, we see a centered strike with a square face.

golf iron, centered strike on the sweet spot

 

Closed-Face Toe

If, all else being equal, we closed the face (rotating it around the sweet spot), the strike would move towards the toe of the club. The below image shows a face that is now 5 degrees closed.

golf iron 5 degrees closed at impact, toe strikeGreen spot represents the old strike with the centered face. Yellow spot represents the new contact point with the closed face.

 

Open-Faced Heel

What if we did the opposite?

What if we opened the face by 5 degrees instead. Well, this picture shows what happens.

golf iron open face heel strikeThe green dot represents the square-face, centered strike. The pink dot represents the new contact point – slightly more towards the heel side.

 

Now, The Comparison

In the next image, we see the contact points all placed together, close up.

Green = square face

Yellow = face presented 5 deg more closed

Pink = face presented 5 deg more open

golf iron contact points for a square, open and closed face

So, while the face being more open or closed DOES affect face-strike location, it’s not as much as you’d think. A few mm at best.

That’s the “grain of truth” part.

 

But What About More Extreme?

I know what you’re thinking…

but when I shank, I present the face 45 deg open

Now, if that were true, you may have a case. There is a point where, all else being equal, you can turn a centered strike into a hosel shank by opening the face.

But…. you’d have to have the face around 45 deg or more open (like below).

golf iron ace extremely open - shank

 

However

Golfers don’t do that.

Most golfers, even beginners, present the face (directionally) with reasonably tight windows – with +/-5 deg (hence why I chose that amount for the first few images).

Directionally, this is enough to hit extremely offline shots (as I outlined in my article Insane Golf Pictures Show Just How Good Golfers Need To Be)

One thing is for sure (and I have measured thousands of golf shots using launch monitors) –

a player doesn’t randomly present the face 45 deg more open than their standard shot

 

Here’s Something Interesting

So far, we have seen how opening or closing the face around the sweet spot barely affects strike location.

But what if we open or close the face around the hosel instead? In fact, this is more of a likely scenario, as, when we twist the club, it will tend to twist around the shaft/hosel.

Well, the below shows the same effect.

Closing the face a normal (within “normally seen by golfers” parameters) amount results in a strike that moves a little bit towards the toe.

And opening the face a normal amount moves the strike location slightly towards the heel.

However, when you start to open the face even more – above “normal” amounts, something strange happens.

You get to a point where the strike actually moves back towards the toe (pink dot, below image).

Golf iron extreme open face toe shot

Once again, this goes to the point that your shanks are not caused by an open face.

 

Sliding Slope

Another interesting fact (to golf geeks like me) is that, if you do present the face more open to the path, even though the contact point does move slightly heel-ward, during the impact interval, the ball actually slides across the face back towards the sweet spot.

golf ball sliding across the iron face during impact

The slight heel contact created by an open face to path (pink) is slightly offset by the fact the ball will slide across the face in the blue direction, while the clubhead will deflect and move in the red direction.

This results in the ball moving closer to the sweet spot location.

Not to mention, heel-contacts close the face through impact, further moving the strike back towards the center.

 

The Important Part

So, if you’ve ever hit a hosel shank, don’t blame an open face.

Instead, fix your club’s presentation in space (too far from you, in the case of a shank).

While it’s certainly possible that you had a heel-bias to your strike beforehand, and an open face just tipped you over the edge, it’s important to recognize that you still have a “club presentation in space” issue, and that’s what needs to be fixed first.

In the above picture, we see a heel biased player (green) that gets away with it. Then they present the face open, the strike moves a touch more towards the heel and BAM – shanksville! Even in this case, fixing the open face is not the priority.

 

How To Get Better

Want to improve your strike location the right way?

Check out The Strike Plan, by clicking the image below.

 

Or, is your strike absolutely fine, but you want to get better at face and path presentation to hit straighter shots more often? Then check out The Accuracy Plan, by clicking the image below.

 

One Last Thing

I also hear

It’s impossible to hit a shank with a closed face

Well, this one is also bunk. Even with a clubface this closed (see below image), we can still access the hosel.

If you wanted to eliminate the hosel by closing the face, you’d have to close the face so much that you’d never be able to hit anything close to a functional golf shot.

golf closed fcae iron with a shank hosel contact

One Comment

  • Joe Scales

    Always great stuff. As a fellow GN (Golf Nerd), have loved your information for many years.

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