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Golf Tips and Instructions: Long Irons and Short Irons

by Brian Hill
    Many beginning or inexperienced golfers find it more difficult to hit long irons.

    Many beginning or inexperienced golfers find it more difficult to hit long irons.

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    Overview

    Scoring well in golf requires you to progressively narrow your focus as you move from the tee to the green. With a driver, your objective is to get the ball in the fairway, which is usually a fairly wide target. Long irons help you cover significant distance and achieve accuracy--placing the ball on or near the green. Your goal with short irons is precision--consistently getting the ball close to the flagstick.

    Long Irons Made Easier

    In the book “Breaking 100, 90, 80” top instructor Butch Harmon says a key to better long iron shots is making sure you take a complete backswing, fully coiling your shoulders. He says you should swing smoothly, not harder--as many amateurs make the mistake of doing in an effort to hit long-iron shots farther. Deliberate is a word to describe the correct long-iron swing. Harmon suggests you swing a little easier than you think is necessary.

    Instructor Janet Coles in the same book adds that you should recognize long irons are difficult clubs to use, but you can hit more consistent long iron shots if you create a mental image of sweeping the ball off the ground, taking a shallow divot.

    Adjust Your Stance for Short Irons

    In his “Golf Digest” article, “Try My Timeless Tips,” golf legend Arnold Palmer suggests that with more lofted clubs such as the short irons--7-, 8- and 9-irons--you should have a more narrow stance than you would with long irons as well as with your driver and fairway woods. The reason is you want to hit the ball on a more descending angle with your short irons. He also suggests opening your stance when playing short irons--aiming your feet slightly to the left of target. You will hit your short irons with a crisp, descending blow.

    Controlling Short Irons

    In his book “Total Shotmaking,” major championship winner Fred Couples advises that you take a controlled rather than hard swing with the 7-iron through 9-irons and wedges. You don’t even have to take a full swing. Just make sure you take enough club to reach the distance to your intended target. He recommends that you have 60 percent of your weight on your left side at address and moving the ball back 2 inches in your stance. Your hands will now be slightly ahead of the ball at address. The result will be a more descending swing path that enables you to impart backspin on the ball and stop it near the pin.

    References

    • "Breaking 100, 90, 80"; Edited by Scott Smith and the Staff of Golf Digest; 2004
    • "Golf Digest"; Try My Timeless Tips; Arnold Palmer; September 2009
    • "Total Shotmaking"; Fred Couples; 1994

    About the Author

    Brian Hill is the author of four popular business and finance books: "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital," "Attracting Capital from Angels" and his latest book, published in 2013, "The Pocket Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Plans."

    Photo Credits

    • Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images