1. What is Shaft Lean | Understanding their Importance

June 01, 202414 min read

What is Shaft Lean? | Understanding the Importance of Shaft Lean in Golf

Part 1

Hi Friends and golfers! Coach Erik Schjolberg here with EJS Golf coming to you from Scottsdale, AZ and McCormick Ranch G. C. It is a pleasure to start this series off on Shaft Lean. I am excited about what this can do for the general public. That includes those trying to get better at golf as well as those that are trying to understand this beautiful sport. Either way, this series is going to be loaded with facts, drills, myth busters, personal stories and those of my students. Shaft lean is something many of my online golf students are looking to attain.

Are you struggling to achieve consistent ball striking in your golf game? One critical aspect that many golfers overlook is shaft lean. Understanding and mastering shaft lean can significantly improve your ball striking and overall performance on the course. In this blog post, we will delve into what shaft lean is, why it’s essential, and how you can achieve it in your golf swing.

At any point for further clarification or research, don't hesitate to check out my other blogs or go to my YouTube Channel. I even have video shorts that can be found on the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. All of these are sources to be used to further understand the subject in front of you.

What is Shaft Lean?

Shaft lean refers to the forward angle of the golf club's shaft at the moment of impact with the ball. When a golfer has proper shaft lean, the hands are ahead of the club head, leading to a more solid and compressed strike. This position helps create better control, distance, and accuracy. Think of it as the difference between a glancing blow and a solid punch—the latter delivers more power and precision.

Visualizing shaft lean can be challenging, so let's break it down with an example. Imagine you're hitting a nail with a hammer. If you strike the nail with the handle leading, you'll drive the nail straight and with force. Similarly, in golf, having the hands lead the club head at impact ensures that the club face strikes the ball cleanly and powerfully.

Understanding the Significance of Shaft Lean in Golf

The concept of shaft lean is a core aspect in the game of golf that significantly affects the quality of your shot. Ensuring you have the correct shaft lean at impact is essential, as it determines the angle at which the clubface will strike the ball. Mastering this part of your swing can lead to a more consistent and powerful connection with the ball, allowing you to dictate the trajectory and spin with greater precision.

When the golf club is appropriately leaned forward at impact, it results in the clubface meeting the ball with a descending blow. This dynamic is fundamental for achieving a preferable ball flight path, as it adds the necessary spin and leads to better ball striking. The process of compressing the ball against the clubface, a result of proper shaft lean, is what generates a penetrating ball flight. This not only optimizes control over the ball but also can significantly enhance the distance of the shot.

Observing professional golfers can lead to a deeper understanding of how shaft lean impacts performance. Renowned players such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are just two examples of golfers who have mastered this aspect. Their swings demonstrate a level of control and power that is largely attributed to their ability to maintain the ideal shaft lean throughout their swing. It's a technique that has become a hallmark of their game, manifesting in consistently powerful and well-aimed shots.

It’s not just about power, though; having the correct shaft lean ensures that the clubface is presented to the ball in a way that maximizes efficiency and accuracy. This precise alignment is what makes shots more predictable in their flight and the reason why shaft lean is considered a building block for any golfer aiming to improve their game.

In essence, the proper shaft lean is not only about improving individual shots. It's a broader approach that elevates a player's overall performance on the course. By dedicating time to study and emulate the swings of pros like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, any golfer can grasp the importance of shaft lean, making it an integral component of their swing mechanics for more consistent and effective results.

Debunking Myths About Shaft Lean

Many golfers often find themselves entangled in a web of myths regarding the concept of shaft lean. These misconceptions can steer golfers of all levels off course, leading to errors in technique and lackluster performance. A prevalent myth that circulates in golfing circles is the notion that shaft lean is a concern reserved solely for those who compete at professional levels. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, the benefits of mastering shaft lean extend to golfers at every level of play, from novices to seasoned enthusiasts. Grasping the essence of proper shaft lean and incorporating it into one's swing can lead to significant improvements in both shot distance and accuracy.

Another widespread fallacy is the belief that in order to achieve shaft lean, one must engage in an aggressive forward press of the hands, which supposedly results in a more dynamic impact position. This assumption leads to golfers adopting an awkward, overexerted position at address. The reality, however, is that proper shaft lean is characterized by subtlety and finesse. A well-executed shaft lean should emanate organically from a swing that feels uncontrived and comfortable. Contrary to pushing or manipulating the hands too aggressively forward, it is the art of uncovering the optimal equilibrium—allowing the golfer's body to orchestrate a natural and rhythmic swing—which embodies the true spirit of achieving the correct shaft lean.

Maintaining the intricacies of these details is crucial to educate and assist golfers in perfecting their technique. Demystifying these myths by shedding light on the genuine principles of shaft lean helps golfers recognize that the key to mastery lies within a natural motion, as opposed to forceful, exaggerated movements. When understood and applied correctly, shaft lean can become an invaluable component in the arsenal of any golfer seeking to enhance their game, regardless of their level of expertise.

Why Golfers end up with Zero to little Shaft Lean at Impact

1. Improper Wrist Angles

One of the primary reasons golfers struggle with shaft lean at impact is improper wrist angles. The lead wrist should be flexed or bowed at impact, which helps to maintain the forward shaft lean necessary for optimal ball striking.

  • Lead Wrist Flexion: The amount of flexion in the lead wrist at impact directly translates into additional shaft lean. Many golfers fail to maintain this flexion, leading to a lack of forward shaft lean.

  • Tension in Grip: A tense grip can lead to tension in the forearms and wrists, causing casting (early release of the club). This prevents the hands from being ahead of the ball at impact.

2. Swing Path and Sequence Issues

Proper swing sequence and timing are crucial for maintaining shaft lean at impact. If the sequence is off, it can be challenging to achieve the correct impact position.

  • Kinetic Swing Sequence: The correct swing sequence involves a coordinated movement of the body and arms. If the body rotation is insufficient, the hands may not lead the club head effectively.

  • Sliding Instead of Rotating: Many amateurs slide their bodies laterally instead of rotating around a stable spine, disrupting the proper impact position

3. Setup and Address Position

The setup and address position play a significant role in achieving shaft lean at impact. Incorrect setup can lead to improper impact positions.

  • Premature Shaft Lean at Setup: Some golfers set up with too much shaft lean at address, leading to a disconnection in the swing and improper impact positions. This can cause the club to de-loft excessively, reducing forgiveness and ball flight.

  • Ball Position: Incorrect ball position, such as having the ball too far forward in the stance, can make it difficult to achieve the correct shaft lean at impact. Also, putting the ball too far back will cause the golfer to cast in order to get to that ball position.

4. Physical and Mechanical Limitations

Physical limitations, such as a lack of flexibility or strength, can prevent golfers from achieving the necessary body rotation and wrist angles to maintain shaft lean.

  • Lack of Flexibility and Strength: Physical limitations can hinder the ability to maintain the correct wrist angles and body rotation needed for proper shaft lean.

  • Swing Speed: For some golfers, especially those with lower swing speeds, excessive shaft lean can reduce distance and control

5. Common Swing Flaws

Several common swing flaws can prevent golfers from achieving the correct shaft lean at impact.

  • Casting: This is a common issue where the golfer releases the club too early in the downswing, leading to a loss of lag and shaft lean at impact

  • Flipping: Similar to casting, flipping occurs when the golfer's hands are behind the club head at impact, often resulting in thin or fat shots.

Understanding and Mastering the Correct Shaft Lean in Golf

Developing the right shaft lean is an essential element in golf that can dramatically affect the quality of your shots. Recognizing and mastering the appropriate shaft lean involves an understanding of both visual cues and the sensation you should feel during the swing. When preparing for a golf shot, it's crucial to ensure that you place your hands slightly ahead of the ball in your stance. This setup is a key starter in achieving proper shaft lean.

As you approach impact with the club, your hands should be positioned to lead the club head, resulting in the shaft of the golf club leaning forward toward the target. This forward lean is instrumental in making solid contact and controlling the trajectory and spin of the golf ball. It is an indication that you are utilizing the loft of the club correctly, which is critical for consistent ball striking.

To effectively engrain the feel of the right shaft lean in your golfing muscle memory, a highly recommended practice routine is the "impact bag" drill. To perform this drill, take an impact bag, or a substitute like an old duffel filled with towels, and place it directly in the position where your golf ball would normally lie. Focus on swinging and striking the bag with your hands leading the way, akin to the desired position at the actual point of impact with a golf ball.

This repetitive practice will help reinforce the forward positioning of your hands and the accompanying shaft lean. Incorporate this exercise into your practice sessions, and you will develop a more reliable shaft lean that will be reflected in your golf swing. The drill not only boosts muscle memory but also provides immediate feedback on the quality of your shaft lean, allowing for quick adjustments and improvements.

By giving attention to these visual and physical elements and regularly incorporating drills such as the impact bag drill, you'll cultivate the proficiency necessary to maintain proper shaft lean throughout your golf swing. This is imperative for syncing your body and club movement, promoting a more potent and precise connection at the point of impact, and thus improving your overall golfing performance.

Exercises and Drills:

Drills to Achieve Proper Shaft Lean

  1. Impact Bag Drill: Place an impact bag or pillow where the ball would be. Practice hitting the bag with your hands leading the clubhead. This drill reinforces the feeling of proper shaft lean at impact.

  2. Forward Press Drill: At address, practice a slight forward press of the hands. This sets the stage for maintaining shaft lean throughout the swing. Remember to keep this movement subtle and natural.

  3. Wrist Hinge Drill: Focus on proper wrist hinge during the backswing. Correct wrist hinge ensures that the clubhead stays behind the hands, promoting shaft lean during the downswing and at impact.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Common Questions About Shaft Lean

  1. Why is shaft lean important?

  2. Shaft lean helps create a descending blow, leading to better ball compression, control, and distance.

  3. Can beginners achieve proper shaft lean?

  4. Yes, golfers of all skill levels can benefit from understanding and practicing shaft lean.

  5. How can I practice shaft lean at home?

  6. Use drills like the impact bag drill or practice your wrist hinge with a mirror to ensure proper technique.

The Story of one of my students:

Mark, came to me with a common issue: inconsistent ball striking. He'd hit some shots beautifully, but others were thin or topped, with no clear pattern. After analyzing his swing, it became clear that a lack of shaft lean at impact was the culprit. After many years of coaching you start to hone in on the source of the ball flight issues right from the start.

Mark was hitting the ball with his hands trailing the club head, leading to inconsistent contact and a loss of power. He would hit these really high and weak golf shots that would not make anyone proud. We decided to focus on improving his shaft lean through my 15-minute per day program.

For the first week, Mark dedicated 15 minutes of his daily practice to the impact bag drill. He placed the impact bag where the ball would be and focused on hitting the bag with his hands leading the club head. This drill helped him ingrain the feeling of proper shaft lean at impact. While doing this Mark ws starting to notice his wrist angles were much different when hitting the bag vs. hitting the golf ball.

In the second week, Mark continued his15 minutes of drills. He added a forward press drills to his routine. At address, he practiced a slight forward press of the hands, setting the stage for maintaining shaft lean throughout the swing. He was mindful to keep this movement subtle and natural. This was combined with the impact bag drill.

During the third week, continuing on with the 15 minutes of drills, Mark added in wrist hinge drills. This wasn't anything new b/c he had been picking up this feeling the first two weeks of practice. He focused on achieving proper wrist hinge during the backswing. In the past I noticed that he would barely get any hinge. I had him practice feeling like he was a waiter at the top of his golf swing. This was done just to give him a feeling that he could transfer to the golf swing. Since he now had this nice wrist hinge, after two weeks of prior practice working on this by other means, he had no problem now ensuring that the club head stayed behind his hands at P6, giving him the desired shaft lean at impact of 10 degrees.

The transformation was remarkable. Within a few weeks of following this 15-minute per day program, Mark's ball striking improved dramatically. He was hitting the ball with more power and control, and his scores started to drop. The added consistency in his shots boosted his confidence on the course, and he even started hitting those long, towering iron shots he'd always dreamed of. Mark was finally able to reach his potential as a golfer. Much more to come!

Mark's story is a testament to the power of consistent practice and the importance of focusing on specific aspects of your swing. By dedicating just 15 minutes a day to targeted drills, he was able to correct a fundamental issue in his swing and achieve significant improvement in his game.


In conclusion, understanding and achieving proper shaft lean is essential for improving your ball striking and overall golf performance. By incorporating the tips and drills mentioned in this blog post, you can develop the muscle memory and technique needed to maintain proper shaft lean during your swing. Remember, practice and consistency are key.

Stay tuned for blog 2 of 30 coming up next on more of the benefits of shaft lean There is a reason that I chose this topic to write about so deeply. Simply put, on the lesson tee each day I don't see enough shaft lean. I work with somewhere near 50% of my students to add shaft lean into their golf swing. There is going to be so much more on this topic as we keep moving forward but already we have diagnosed and have already started to address some ways for the golfer to fix this issue.

Erik Schjolberg

EJS Golf Academy

Scottsdale Golf Lessons

Online Golf Lessons

Are you lost at times on the golf course or the driving range and just don’t know how to correct your slice, hitting it fat, topping the ball, etc.?  What if you had a plan, maybe even on a notecard in your golf bag as many of my student do, that is your simple blueprint towards your desired shot?  This isn’t a pie in the sky dream.  These are the tools I want to give you so that your athletic ability, mobility, strength, etc. are working as one for you!  
I will liberate you from those thoughts of where your body parts should be during the golf swing.  In turn, you will give yourself the chance to self organize and focus on either some external cue I will develop with you or just being in the flow state. In my system you will no longer be subject to golf myths, swing tips of the day, guessing, etc.  ​

Coach Erik Schjolberrg

Are you lost at times on the golf course or the driving range and just don’t know how to correct your slice, hitting it fat, topping the ball, etc.? What if you had a plan, maybe even on a notecard in your golf bag as many of my student do, that is your simple blueprint towards your desired shot? This isn’t a pie in the sky dream. These are the tools I want to give you so that your athletic ability, mobility, strength, etc. are working as one for you! I will liberate you from those thoughts of where your body parts should be during the golf swing. In turn, you will give yourself the chance to self organize and focus on either some external cue I will develop with you or just being in the flow state. In my system you will no longer be subject to golf myths, swing tips of the day, guessing, etc. ​

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