Too Much Shaft Lean at Address (How Much Is Best?)

Photo of author

In golf, one area that often separates pros from amateurs is their ability to strike down and compress the ball at impact, producing a crisper and more consistent strike.

To facilitate this, golfers will sometimes lean their club shaft forwards in the setup. This can help encourage the motion of striking down into the ball at impact.

However, is it possible to have too much shaft lean at address?

This article will teach you the ideal shaft position for consistent ball striking. Also, you’ll learn how shaft lean can extract more speed out of your swing — when done correctly!

Ready to improve your game? Let’s begin!

Too Much Shaft Lean at Address

Too much forward shaft lean at address causes low and left shots, and too much backward shaft lean produces high and right shots. Instead, it’s best to keep the shaft fairly neutral at address. However, forward shaft lean at impact is beneficial for iron shots, promoting a more consistent strike.

What Is Shaft Lean in Golf?

The term shaft lean refers to the angle of the club shaft at address or impact. If the club shaft leans toward the target, it is said to have a forward shaft lean. On the other hand, a backward (or reverse) shaft lean is when the club shaft leans away from the target.

what is shaft lean in golf

How Much Shaft Lean at Address?

When setting up to the golf ball, the position of your hands is important if you want a consistently pure strike — particularly with your irons.

The ideal shaft position at address is neutral, with the shaft pointing vertically.

Firstly, a neutral shaft position makes it easier to grip the golf club correctly, which influences how you control the clubface through impact. Therefore, it impacts both direction — reducing hooks and slices — while also affecting the ball’s trajectory.

Secondly, a neutral shaft position ensures the takeaway and backswing remain consistent and without compromise. With too much shaft lean at address, it can be difficult to bring the club away correctly at the start of the backswing.

Remember, ball position changes between clubs. However, the shaft should remain neutral at address — the hands simply move a few inches forward or backward.

PRO TIP: To check if your shaft position is correct at address, setup to the ball and let go of the club. With a neutral shaft position, the handle should brush the inside of your lead leg.

So, what are the problems are caused by having too much shaft lean at address?

Too Much Forward Shaft Lean at Address

Many golfers are aware that forward shaft lean at impact is beneficial for compressing the ball, which can improve ball speed and distance.

However, too much forward shaft lean at address can cause two problems:

  • Low ball flight
  • Hooked shots

These problems occur because excessive forward shaft lean has the effect of delofting and closing the clubface throughout the swing and impact.

So, if you find that you struggle to get the ball high and hook the ball frequently, setting up to the ball with a more neutral shaft position can help to square up the clubface.

Too Much Backward Shaft Lean at Address

Conversely, too much backward shaft lean causes problems of the opposite nature:

  • High ball flight
  • Sliced shots

Excessive backward shaft lean adds too much loft, while opening the clubface.

Often, backward shaft lean happens as a result of golfers wanting to scoop the ball in the air, rather than trusting the club’s natural loft to get the ball up.

Check out the following video by Me And My Golf, where they discuss the pitfalls of having too much shaft lean at address, and the optimal setup at address:

How Much Shaft Lean at Impact?

So, we’ve looked at the negative results of too much shaft lean at address. Next, let’s talk about the ideal shaft position at impact for pure and consistent ball striking.

Around 10 degrees of forward shaft lean at impact is optimal, enabling you to hit downwards and compress the ball — producing a pure and consistent strike.

Having a forward shaft lean at impact helps for a couple of reasons. Firstly, hitting downwards into the golf ball raises the impact position to the center of the clubface. This unlocks a sweetspot for a better and more consistent strike.

Secondly, it has the effect of delofting the clubface. This helps you hit the ball further with lower trajectory, which is especially useful when playing in windy conditions.

This is known as reducing the dynamic loft — the amount of loft actually delivered to the ball, rather than the loft angle of the club in its neutral position.

For instance, TrackMan released dynamic loft data for the PGA Tour and found that the average dynamic loft of a 6 iron was around 20.2 degrees. When compared with the actual loft of a 6 iron — 30 degrees — the dynamic loft is significantly lower.

When you consider that 1 degree of loft is equivalent to approximately 2 to 4 yards of distance — and even more for pro golfers — the distance gains can be significant.

how much shaft lean at impact
Note how far forward Tiger Woods keeps his hands coming into impact, as he looks to compress the ball with his irons.

How to Create Forward Shaft Lean

If you’re looking to create forward shaft lean at impact, there are a few things to alter in the swing when compared with a typically neutral shaft position:

  • Get your hands forward — The first step to achieving forward shaft lean is to get your hands forward during the downswing. This produces a natural forward angle in the shaft, allowing you to strike down on the ball.
  • Close the clubface — With a neutral shaft position at impact, the clubface remains square to the target. However, when you push the shaft position forward slightly, this has the effect of opening the clubface. To counter this, rotate the hands and close the clubface in the downswing so the clubface remains square at impact.
  • Flatten the lead wrist — This helps you avoid early extension by ensuring the club trails behind the hands. Doing so prevents the club from flipping, and enables you to maintain a powerful position throughout impact for the optimal strike.

In the video below, Clay Ballard of Top Speed Golf demonstrates the club head loft and speed differences between a straight shaft and a forward shaft lean at impact:


In conclusion, you want to keep the club shaft position fairly neutral at address to prevent problems such as delofting or hooks and slices.

However, it’s optimal to have around 10 degrees of shaft lean at impact in order to properly compress the ball. This produces a better strike, with more distance.

Ultimately, the impact position is more important than how you address the ball. But, adjusting your setup can have a positive impact on your ball striking when done correctly.

Share This Article:

Photo of author

Hailing from the South West of England, Jake has been playing golf for over a decade. He founded Pitchmarks with the aim of helping everyday golfers like himself learn more about the game, through instructional content and honest gear reviews. He has a degree in Architecture and a passion for golf course design, along with a lofty goal to play the world's top 100 courses.