There’s a difference between the iron shots that very good amateurs and pros hit, and the ones the rest of us hit. Our irons shots lift off the club face like they were thrown off it, and make a lazy arc through the sky. At least the good ones do.
Those other iron shots, the ones we don’t hit, seem to take off like they were shot from a gun and fly toward the green like a pin-seeking missile.
That’s not a shot we have to admire from afar. You can hit your irons like that, too. The whole idea is for the clubface to still be moving downward as it contacts the ball. Hit the ball first, the ground second.
You might have heard about hitting down with your irons. That can be interpreted as making the downswing more vertical, as if you were chopping wood, but that’s not what hitting down means. Rather, it means to hit the ball with a swing that bottoms out after the ball has been struck.
When you hit a golf ball you have to aim at something. I don’t mean the green ahead of you, for example. I mean something on the ground, something right in front of you that want the clubhead to hit.
Most people aim for the back of the ball. When you aim there, the downward arc of the swing will bottom out at that point so the clubface momentarily travels parallel to the ground. The club sweeps the ball into the air and the result is one of those lazy fliers we think are good shots.
To hit that crisp iron shot, do two things.
First, shift the swing arc forward so it bottoms out at a spot in front of the ball. An easy way to accomplish that is direct your attention to a spot about one inch in front of the ball once you’re ready to swing. Ignore the ball, and aim your strike for that spot.
Second, make sure your hands get to the ball before the clubhead does. The idea of dragging or pulling the club through impact is helpful.
To be avoided is the thought of pushing the clubhead through the ball with the right hand. That is what makes the hands slow down. Impact becomes a flicking motion, with rarely leads to a clean strike.
Having done both these things, you’ll catch the ball cleanly, trapping the ball between the club and the ground as the club heads down to the bottom. The result will be that breathtaking ball flight, straight, high, and far.
Take some time to work this out at the range. You might start by aiming for a point directly underneath the ball, and as you get the idea, gradually move the aim spot forward until you find the spot where you get the best results.
As far as leading the clubhead though with your hands goes, that starts the moment you bring the club down from the top of the backswing. Keep your hands and wrists in the position they’re in until the momentum of the swing releases them.
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