Every golfer has stretches where they’re hitting the ball great, making putts, and hitting fairways. But for most of us, these stretches are far and few between.
Where most golfers struggle is with consistency in their iron play.
Hitting driver usually comes first when learning how to play, and the head size allows for a larger error without a huge punishment.
Learning how to hit irons pure and upgrade from those game improvement irons is the biggest hill to climb when trying to lower your scores, but today I’m going to help you hit irons better and more consistently.
We’ll go over the fundamentals to engrave into your practice, and a few drills that will help you strike the ball pure.
The first thing I want to go over is ball placement. It sounds simple and boring, but it’s extremely important. So let’s start with wedges…
When hitting full wedge shots, the ball needs to be positioned a little right of center, for a right handed golfer. This will not only allow you to hit the ball with a square clubface, but it will keep the flight of the ball a little bit lower.
What separates PGA Tour players from every weekend hack, is they’re able to hit wedges low and their long irons high. A lower ball flight with a wedge allows for better distance control, as well as spin control.
Moving into short irons. For 9-7 iron, I like to see the ball in the middle of the stance. This position allows the player to again have more control with their ball flight.
As we get further into the bag, we want to move our ball position more forward in our stance. For 6,5,4, and even 3 iron, have the ball 2 balls to the right of the inside of your lead foot.
This is the left foot for a right handed golfer, and the right foot for a left handed golfer. Hitting long irons high is key. This will make the ball stop quicker on greens, making it easier to play a long hole where you have to hit a long iron for your approach shot. The longer a shaft is, the more time it needs to enter the hitting area with a square club face.
However, this can be dependent on your swing. Some players are better at getting onto their lead side than others. While you should always be trying to improve your swing, to make it work better now, take practice swings and see where the club hits the ground…and place the ball just before that point.
The next thing I want to go over is setup.
Many people don’t think of golf being a very athletic sport, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When you setup to the golf ball, you need to think like an athlete.
The biggest change I made when I started playing better golf was making my stance more athletic. This included changes like bending my knees more, and adding a little bit of forward tilt. This allowed me to be more comfortable over the ball while also improving my balance throughout the swing.
Once you feel more balanced over the ball, creating more separation between your arms and body at setup is key. This gives the arms more space to swing on the way down, which will help get rid of over cutting the golf ball.
Another quick thing to do at setup if you have trouble hitting the ball first, is to put 60% of the pressure in your lead foot. This will encourage more weight transfer to your lead side, making it much easier to hit the ball first and get rid of the fat shots.
Now that we have gone over a few keys with ball position and setup, I want to share a few swing thoughts that will help straighten out your ball flight. One of the biggest flaws I see in amateur golfers is their take away.
It may seem unimportant, but having a bad takeaway can lead to bad habits at the top of your swing and greatly impact how you swing the club through the hitting area. The biggest mistake I see during the takeaway is having the club come way to the inside.
This type of takeaway can lead to many faults, but the main one is a weak ball flight to the right, or a slice. In many players, whatever they do during the takeaway, they do the opposite on the way down.
One of my favorite training aids to use for a good takeaway is the TGT Hip. This training aid is incredible. It promotes better hip rotation during your swing, and helps the takeaway. If you take the club too far to the inside, your arm will hit the small red ball on your hip. CLICK HERE to check it out on Amazon.
An inside takeaway leads to an over-the-top swing, resulting in slices. When you take the club back, when the club is parallel to the ground, the club head should be slightly outside your hands. Later, I will share a drill that will help perfect your take away.
The most important thing to hitting pure iron shots is making sure you’re striking the ball before hitting the ground.
Many players believe they need to help the ball get into the air, which results in scooping at the bottom of the swing. This will cause a massive loss of distance, and making it borderline impossible to control distance with every club in the bag.
In order to correct this mistake, we need to get your weight to your lead side. How I teach my players to do this starts at the top of the backswing. We need to get the arms back in sync with the body, so the first move we want to make is a slight turn of your lead hip, with a slight drop of your biceps.
Many coaches will say to “drop your arms” but this move results in the club getting stuck behind you which will cause numerous problems at the bottom of your swing. Dropping your biceps immediately re-syncs your arms with your body. Once everything is back together, now you can just rotate and fire.
Once a player gets into a position where all they need to do is rotate, their swing instantly becomes more consistent and repeatable. Just focusing on rotation will also help with remaining in posture.
Knowing what needs to be done during your swing to produce high quality iron shots is one thing, but cementing them in your game with drills in another.
Here are a few drills that isolate different moves and techniques that when put together will help your game tremendously.
This one is very simple, and can be done pretty much anywhere. For this drill, setup to the ball just like you would if you were making a swing, but instead of putting the ball in front of your club, put it behind the club head.
As you take the club back, you want to send the ball directly behind you. If your takeaway is too far to the inside, you’ll push the ball behind you where you can’t see it.
If your takeaway is too far outside, you’ll push the ball away from you.
This drill is nice because it gives you immediate feedback and doesn’t allow much room for error.
To dial it in even more, place a drinking cup aligned with the ball where if you do the drill correctly, you’ll hit it with the ball. This will give you something to “aim” at. Once you’ve done this a few times, when the club is parallel to the ground, the club head will be in the ideal position slightly outside of your hands.
At setup, place an alignment stick just outside each hip. This will make you “trapped” between the two sticks.
This is a perfect drill to keep you centered over the ball and make it easier for you to get your weight to your lead side on the downswing. As you make your turn, your back hip shouldn’t hit the alignment stick.
If it does, that means you sway during your swing, making it very hard to transfer your weight to your lead side. If you hit your lead hip on the other stick during your downswing, that means you cover the ball too much, which can lead to thin shots and hooks. This is a drill you can do at the range, while actually hitting balls.
Two Alignment Stick Drill
This drill is perfect to do the next time you’re at the range hitting a bucket of balls. Lay down two alignment sticks on the ground roughly two balls apart, parallel to your target.
Place the ball you are going to hit between the two sticks. When you hit these balls, the alignment sticks will force you to hit the center of the club face.
If you find that you’re hitting the club off the heel or toe, shrink the gap of the two sticks. If you feel uncomfortable with the alignment sticks, use two soft head covers.
This drill helps swing plane, balance, and club face control.
No so much a drill, but a training aid that I can recommend is the Top Tier Golf Pure Strike. This is a great training ad to help you find the center of the club face. This promotes a better swing plane and club face control. This is one of the best overall training aids on the market today. CLICK HERE to check it out on Amazon.